The Chicago area has a new member on the PGA Tour. Elgin’s Carlos Sainz Jr. earned playing privileges for the 2014-15 season after finishing in a tie for 31st place in the Web.com Tour Championship on Sunday at TPC Sawgrass in Florida.
Sainz, 28, had only one top-10 finish and survived the 36-hole cut only 10 times in 23 tournaments in his rookie season on the PGA’s satellite circuit, but his best play came when it counted the most.
A tie for second in August’s Price Cutter Charity Championship earned Sainz $44,550, which accounted for most of his regular season earnings. Still, it allowed him to squeeze into the Web.com Finals, a four-tournament series of $1 million events that offered 25 berths on the PGA Tour for next season. The Finals was limited to the top 75 on the Web.com money list and players ranked from 126-200 in the PGA’s FedEx Cup standings.
Sainz, ranked 74th in regular season money, posted a tie for 19th and a tie for 12th in the first two Finals events before missing the cut by one stroke in the third. That put him in a precarious position going into the last event at TPC Sawgrass, but the former Mississippi State golfer put together rounds of 70, 70, 68 and 71 for a 278 total that was just good enough to put him on the 50 players from the Web.com circuit to advance to the PGA Tour.
A bogey on the last hole Sunday left Sainz in a precarious position, and he had to wait for the last putt to drop several hours after he finished his round before he was assured advancement in the No. 49 position.
Sainz is scheduled to defend his title in the Chicago Open at Cantigny, in Wheaton next month, but that may be in limbo now. Under its new scheduling format, which went into effect in the fall of 2013, the next PGA Tour campaign begins with the Frys.com Open in Napa, Calif., from Oct. 6-12. The Chicago Open is Oct. 5-7.
Though he has his PGA Tour card, Sainz won’t have a high enough priority to play in all the tournaments, and he may not get into an event on the premier circuit until January.
Derek Fathauer won the Web.com Tour Championship, finishing at 14-under-par 266 for the 72 holes. He was 13 strokes ahead of Sainz.