After a two-week break from a busy and successful schedule, former Clemson All-American Ben Martin will be back on the course this morning for the Web.com Tour's final regular-season event - the Cox Classic Presented by Lexus of Omaha.
Following his Mylan Classic victory that closed the money gap to less than $35,000 behind No. 1 Michael Putnam, Martin didn’t deviate from his plan to take two weeks off before the regular season finale.
The margin now stands at $37,735, keeping Martin within striking distance of grabbing the crown on the final day.
The No. 1 spot is worth more than cash and prestige: the Web.com Tour regular season money champion is fully exempt for the 2014 PGA Tour. The next 25 finishers receive PGA Tour cards, as well, but their pecking order for gaining entry into tour events will depend on how they performance in the inaugural Web.com Tour Playoffs.
“It’ll be fun to go to Omaha with a chance to finish No. 1,” Martin told PGATour.com after his five-shot romp three weeks ago.
“That’s the thing,” said Putnam, who tied for 30th in Knoxville after missing the Mylan Classic cut. “No. 2 can’t guarantee anything.”
Martin, who currently stands No. 2 on the money list, can dethrone Putnam with a victory, or a runner-up finish as long as Putnam isn’t alone in third. Ties for second get a little more complicated. No matter what, though, Martin can’t finish lower than solo fourth, or a four-way tie for third.
No. 3 Chesson Hadley and No. 4 Edward Loar also can leap to the top with a victory, though Putnam can squelch their efforts by finishing among the top dozen.
Martin tees off at 9:05 a.m. ET on Thursday with Scott Sterling and Alex Cejka, and will play on Friday at 1:10 p.m.
Last season, Martin was five-under for 36 holes in the Cox Classic and missed the cut by one stroke. Ben Koles went on to win with a -24 total.
As for the upcoming Web.com Tour Playoffs, Jim Martin - Ben's dad - offered the following overview of how the first-time process will work:
'After this week, the Web.com Tour regular season is over and the top 25 players will receive their PGA tour cards for the 2013/14 PGA season, which begins in October. However, their “seeding” or “reshuffle position” is determined solely on how much money they make in the four Web.com Tour Playoff events, which will begin next week in Ft. Wayne, Ind.
'As for the Web.com Playoffs, here’s how they are structured: The top 75 players from the Web.com Tour (25 of which have already earned their cards) and players No. 126-200 from the PGA Tour, will all compete in four playoff events. They will be playing for a total of 50 PGA Tour cards and for their "seeding” or “reshuffle position” when the PGA Tour starts back up on Oct. 10 at the Frys.com Tournament in San Martin, Calif. The amount of money those 50 players earn in the four playoff events, will determine their “reshuffle position” for the first several PGA Tour events."
Martin notes that "even though Ben has had a great regular season, if he is not No. 1 on the regular season money list, and if he doesn’t play well in the playoffs, he will not be positioned well to get into the upcoming PGA events."
Currently included in the 126-200 group on the PGA Tour's 2013 money list are former Tigers Jonathan Byrd (146) and D.J. Trahan (167).
Kyle Stanley (54) and Lucas Glover (106) are competing beginning today at The Barclays in the first round of the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup Playoffs.
Also in the field for the Web.com Tour's Cox Classic are Matt Hendrix, Brian Duncan and Sam Saunders.