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Fowler's late-season run was remarkable. While still an amateur this summer he lost a Nationwide event in a playoff and led the U.S. Walker Cup team to an easy victory. After turning pro in September, he signed endorsement deals with Puma and Titleist, almost won the Frys.com Open (losing in a playoff) and earned $571,090 in only three starts. A terrific putter and wedge player, with personality and a killer instinct, Fowler is star material. His setback at Disney only delayed the inevitable. "I feel as if I can play with these guys," Fowler says. "I'll find a way to get out there."
A bunch of more familiar names also failed to crack the top 125, including major winners Todd Hamilton (2004 British Open), Tom Lehman ('96 British), 2010 U.S. Ryder Cup captain Corey Pavin ('95 U.S. Open) and Steve Elkington ('95 PGA winner). Lehman, who split time on the PGA and Champions tours this year, says he may cash in a career-money-list exemption for the '10 Tour season. Pavin may do that too. Hamilton's five-year exemption as a British Open champ has expired, so he may go to Q school. He's also considering playing in Europe because his British win came with a 10-year exemption to play there if he accepts a European tour membership. "Who knows?" he said glumly at the Disney. "I may like it."
Rocco Mediate, the Cinderella story of 2008, when he took Woods to overtime at the U.S. Open, won't be exempt in '10, either. Mediate, who turns 47 next month, missed the cut by a mile (seven strokes) at the Disney and says he's hurting and will not go to Q school. "No golf until January for me," he says. "My back is really messy. I need to get in the gym for four or five weeks and get my back in shape."
Rich Beem, winner of the 2002 PGA Championship, was a name player who did survive, thanks to a closing 68. He played in Sunday's first threesome and finished an hour and a half before the money list was final. As play was concluding, Beem ambled into the press room in the Shades of Green hotel wearing his usual off-course uniform—T-shirt, shorts and sandals—and swigging from a coffee cup. "How does it look?" he asked. Beem stood 122nd on the money list and was assured his chances were excellent. (Indeed, he would stay right there.)
Convinced that his exempt status was official, Beem departed, leaving a trail of hugs and wisecracks.
He also wore a big smile. Maybe it was the "coffee" or maybe it was the knowledge that in 2010 he still has a ticket on golf's gravy train.
The financial news was decidedly mixed on the PGA Tour this season. For the first time since 1991 there were fewer players winning $1 million or more than the year before; and for only the second time since '92 the amount needed to finish 125th on the money list—$662,683 by Jimmy Walker (right)—declined. What caused these dramatic decreases (15.4% for millionaires, 22.3% for 125th)? Mostly a drop in total prize money: the first decline since 1975, to $275 million in '09 from $279 million in '08, due primarily to three fewer Fall Series events than a year ago.
[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]
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