PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – As Rob Oppenheim stood behind the scoring area at TPC Sawgrass, he looked up wistfully at the pine trees towering above his head.
His work was done. An entire week – heck, an entire Web.com Tour season spent on the bubble had come to a close, and his fate was now in the hands of others.
“The golfing gods,” he said with a shake of his head. “They owe me.”
Two hours later, by the thinnest of margins, they paid him back and made Oppenheim the key figure in the season’s final event.
The Web.com Tour Championship is rarely about who wins or who loses the tournament; it’s about who survives the four-week finals gauntlet and advances to the PGA Tour. Twenty-five cards have been up for grabs over the last month, and Oppenheim claimed the final golden ticket thanks to an unexpected source – Lucas Glover.
Oppenheim and Glover are both 35, having been born only two months apart. But that’s where the comparisons stop. Glover is an accomplished PGA Tour winner, the lone major champion in this week’s field and a player who had already clinched his return to the big leagues.
Oppenheim, meanwhile, has never held a PGA Tour card. He needed a late hole-in-one at Web.com Tour Q-School last year to simply earn a full Web.com card, and he was a hard-luck loser when the regular season came to a close.
Buoyed by his win at the Air Capital Classic in June, Oppenheim entered the final regular-season event on the cusp of earning his card. But he missed the cut in Portland by a shot and finished 26th on the money list when the top 25 players earned a promotion.
His $160,159 in earnings left him $943 short of his goal.
Oppenheim took the close call in stride, but after his round Sunday at TPC Sawgrass it appeared he had again come up agonizingly short. He closed 67-67 over the weekend, but was dealt a cruel blow when his 9-iron approach on No. 15 hit the hole on the fly.
Instead of settling at the bottom of the cup, it caromed off the flagstick and rolled 20 feet away. A potential eagle – or at least an easy birdie – turned into a disappointing par.
“It’s a tough two shots,” he said. “I’m not sure it’s as close as anyone has come, I’m sure everyone’s got their stories. But it’s close.”
Related article: Ex-Long Meadow golfer Oppenheim has eyes on PGA prize