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2012 Web.com Tour Year in Review
By Kevin Currie, Senior Golf Editor
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - The 2012 season had a pair of upstarts win in back-to-back weeks, including one that won his first two tour starts.
That player, Ben Kohles, was part of the overall youth movement on the tour that saw 15 players gain their PGA Tour cards for the first time thanks to finishing in the top 25 on the money list. Four of those 15 are 22 or 23 years old.
Three of those players also had no status on the Nationwide Tour to begin the 2012 campaign. It was an unpredictable year with plenty of comeback wins.
This will also be remembered as the last year in which the top-25 on the money list go right to the PGA Tour. With changes at the PGA Tour level, the top 75 on next year's Web.com Tour money list will join with Nos. 126-200 on the PGA Tour money list to play the Web.com Tour Final, a series of four events that will give 50 players their PGA Tour card for the following season.
Before we cross that bridge, lets take look at some of 2012 standout performers.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR - Luke Guthrie
Choosing between five players that won twice this year wasn't easy, so we'll take the guy that did it in just 10 starts.
Luke Guthrie turned pro shortly after playing in the NCAA Championship for the University of Illinois. He competed in three PGA Tour events and carded three top-20 finishes.
He then set his sights on the Web.com Tour, where his first start was at the Nationwide Children's Hospital Invitational, an event at which he missed the cut a year earlier.
Guthrie lost to Kohles, who was making his first-ever tour start. A week later Guthrie shared third place, once again behind Kohles. Guthrie followed with two more top-10s before missing his first cut.
He responded from that missed cut in fine fashion. Guthrie won the Boise Open by four strokes and rallied the following week to beat Danny Lee and Cameron Percy by a shot at the WNB Golf Classic.
Guthrie stopped Lee from becoming the first player in tour history to win the same event in back-to-back years. This win also gave Guthrie six top-10s, including four top-4s, in his first seven tour starts.
Guthrie went on to finish second on the tour's money list with only 10 starts.
Kohles, who won his first two tour starts earlier in the year, became the sixth player in tour history to win in back-to-back weeks. Kohles ended eighth on the money list.
Also under consideration: The other two-time winners - Casey Wittenberg, Russell Henley and Shawn Stefani. Wittenberg also topped the tour money list.
TOURNAMENT OF THE YEAR - CHIQUITA CLASSIC
Henley came out victorious in the tournament of the year, the Chiquita Classic.
Morgan Hoffmann and Patrick Cantlay both fired 7-under 65s in the final round to get in at 22-under. Henley led by one on the 18th tee, but trouble loomed.
Henley found a bunker off the tee, then flared his second shot well right into the water. He managed to get up and down for bogey to force a 3-way playoff.
In the extra session, Cantlay found sand off the tee and came up short with his second. Hoffmann, from the fairway, attacked the pin with his second, but came up short in the water.
Cantlay chipped on, then 2-putted for bogey. Hoffmann got up and down for bogey after his drop.
That left it all up to Henley. He rolled his 30-foot birdie effort to two feet. He tapped in for par and the win. In 22 previous starts, he notched only three top-10 finishes, but this win propelled Henley to four consecutive top-10s to end the season.
SHOT OF THE YEAR - SAND MAGIC
Every so often a player comes from well off the pace in the final round to win a tournament. That was the case at this year's Stadion Classic.
Nine groups before the final twosome, Kevin Foley and Hudson Swafford teed off at the University of Georgia Country Club.
Swafford, a former University of Georgia golfer, tripped to a bogey at the first. He came back with a birdie at two, then poured in three straight birdies from the fifth and again from the 11th.
After birdies at 16 and 17, Swafford dumped his approach in a greenside bunker at the last. Knowing he needed to at worst save par for a possible playoff, Swafford dunked the bunker shot for an improbable birdie to close a round 9- under 62.
That got him in at 17-under. Luke List bogeyed the last to fall one back, then Lee Janzen closed with seven birdies in the last eight holes to join List in second at minus-16.
When no one in the last three groups could catch him, Swafford grabbed the trophy and the first-place paycheck thanks to his perfectly executed bunker shot.
Wittenberg: Two wins and topped the money list. His eight top-10s were second most on tour.
Justin Hicks: Led the tour with 10 top-10 finishes, which helped him finish 11th on the money list.
Joseph Bramlett and Scott Parel: They shared the tour lead in cuts made, 20, but both finished outside the top 25 on the money list, therefore failing to gain their PGA Tour cards for next year. We'll call it good year/bad year for them.
Ryan Armour: He started 26 events, but made just four cuts.
Swafford was one of seven players that won in 2012, but failed to finish in the top-25 on the money list, meaning they'll all be back on the Web.com Tour in 2013 unless they get their PGA Tour card via Q School.
Lee Janzen: The 2-time U.S. Open champion is biding his time on the Web.com Tour before heading to the Champions Tour late in the 2014 campaign. Started 15 tour events, but only made 10 cuts and his share of second at the Stadion Classic was his lone top-10 finish.
11/19 16:36:22 ET
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