Jonathan Byrd saved his best tournament for last and bolstered his PGA Tour status for the 2017-18 season by winning the rain-delayed Web.com Tour Championship on Monday in Atlantic Beach, Fla.
Byrd, who played at Spring Valley High before an All-American career at Clemson, joins former Clemson standout Sam Saunders, Arnold Palmer’s grandson, in improving their opportunities to compete in the season that begins Thursday.
Meanwhile, Katelyn Dambaugh, who completed an All-American career at South Carolina in May, moved into position to advance to the 2018 LPGA Tour with a second-place finish in the Symetra Tour’s IOA Golf Classic in Longwood, Fla.
Byrd, 39, ran away from the field in the Web.com season finale, shooting 24-under-par 260 for four rounds and vaulted from a tied for 66th to second in earning for the four tournaments that compose the tour’s playoffs.
He has former-champion status on the PGA Tour, thanks to his five tournament victories, but that got him into only nine PGA events in 2016-17. Players who earned status through the Web.com Tour played in 20 or more PGA events in the just-completed season.
Saunders finished 129th in the 2016-17 FedEx standings and likewise boosted his playing opportunities in the Web.com Finals. He opened the tour championship with a 59 and finished tied for second at 264, four strokes behind Byrd. He moved from 24th to sixth in earnings over the finals’ four events.
Kyle Thompson, a Greenville resident who forged an All-American career at USC, and USC Aiken golfers Matt Atkins and Roberto Diaz earned 2017-18 PGA Tour cards based on the Web.com’s regular season.
The top 10 players in Symetra Tour earnings advance to the LPGA Tour, and Dambaugh climbed to ninth on the money list Monday. She has played in only 11 tournaments and has posted six top 10s headed into the season’s final event, this week’s Symetra Tour Championship in Daytona Beach, Fla.
Another former USC golfer, Nanna Madsen, clinched her spot on the 2018 LPGA Tour with three Symetra wins. She is fourth in earnings headed into the Symetra Tour Championship.
Five former Tigers will play as exempt members on the PGA Tour this coming year. Joining Byrd and Saunders will be Kyle Stanley, Lucas Glover and Ben Martin. Stanley finished 24th in the FedEx Cup race and won $3.4 million, the second most money won in a season by a former Clemson golfer. Glover finished 43rd in the standings, and Martin finished 123rd.