Canadians eager to lock up Tour cards at Wyndham Championship
By ADAM STANLEY
THE CANADIAN PRESS
Tuesday, August 14, 2018 Print Edition, Page B9
After a relaxing week off, four Canadian golfers enter the pressure cooker on Thursday.
Ben Silverman, Corey Conners, Nick Taylor and David Hearn have one last chance to get inside the top 125 on the FedEx Cup standings at the Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, N.C., the final event of the PGA Tour's 2017-18 regular season.
Finishing inside the top 125 means a golfer is fully exempt on the PGA Tour for the following season, giving them the opportunity to choose their schedule.
Silverman, of Thornhill, Ont., spent most of last week's PGA Championship with his young family, going to Florida to register a car he won after a closest-tothe-pin contest at the Waste Management Phoenix Open earlier this year. However, his focus changes this week.
"I've been keeping an eye on [the standings] throughout the year," Silverman said. "I probably need a top 10, but I'm aiming to win."
Adam Hadwin of Abbotsford, B.C., is exempt next year thanks to his win at the Valspar Championship in 2017, and sits 68th in the FedEx Cup standings. Hadwin was the only Canadian to play in the PGA Championship, but missed the cut at the final major of the year.
Mackenzie Hughes of Dundas, Ont., sits 159th on the Cup list, but is good for next season as well thanks to his win at The RSM Classic in 2016.
But for Silverman (134), Conners (128) of Listowel, Ont., Nick Taylor (129) of Abbotsford and Hearn (156) of Brantford, Ont., this week should be a stressful one, based on what's at stake.
Silverman and Conners, both PGA Tour rookies, are trying to look on the bright side.
"[It] should be a fun event.
Obviously I'd like to be in a slightly different position ideally, but [I] still have a good chance," said Conners, who spent last week at home visiting friends and enjoying a rare week off.
"I feel like I don't have any pressure on me right now," Silverman echoed.
Conners played in the final group on Sunday in back to back events in March before fading in the final round both times.
He said having those results at the beginning of the season helped with his confidence.
Conners says he feels he has been playing good golf, but just hasn't been able to score well. He missed the cut at the RBC Canadian Open three weeks ago.
"I knew one good week could lock up my card and I haven't been able to do that. It's still all right, and I still feel good about things," Conners said. "Over all, it's been a successful year and hopefully I have one more good week." Both Silverman and Conners said if they finish outside the top 125, they still have a chance to play upward of 15 events on the PGA Tour next season via a special membership category for golfers who finish 126-150th in the FedEx Cup standings.
Hearn was in that same category this year, and the Wyndham Championship will mark his 21st event of the year.
The rookies said they learned a lot this season.
Silverman had a noticeable improvement in his second year on the Web.com Tour - including a victory - and said he expects the same kind of improvement next season on the PGA Tour, although it remains to be seen what his schedule will be.
"Every first year on a tour has been a learning experience for me and I feel like I've got a little better with each one," Silverman said.
"I've had to learn a lot this year, but I feel like I've been handling it all right."
Conners, meanwhile, has another big life event to focus on after next week - he's marrying his long-time girlfriend, Malory, on Oct. 20.
He said he's hopeful to "follow in the footsteps" of his fellow Canadians.
Hughes got married in October, 2016, and won his first PGA Tour event the following month, while Hadwin won his first PGA event just two weeks prior to getting married.
"It'll be a special end to the year and I'll have some fresh mojo for the beginning of the next wraparound season," Conners said.
If Silverman, Conners, Hearn and Taylor don't get into the top 125 this week, they'll presumably enter the four-event Web.com Tour finals - where another 25 PGA Tour cards are up for grabs - starting next week.
Entering the final week of the Web.com Tour regular season, Adam Svensson has all but locked up his PGA card for next season.
The Surrey, B.C., golfer is 12th on the Web.com money list, with the top 25 graduating to the PGA after the regular season.
David Hearn tees off on the 10th hole of the Canadian Open at Glen Abbey in Oakville, Ont., on July 26. Hearn and fellow Canadians Ben Silverman, Corey Conners and Nick Taylor have one last chance to make the top 125 on the FedEx Cup standings at the Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, N.C., the final event of the PGA Tour's 2017-18 regular season.
\FRANK GUNN/THE CANADIAN PRESS