Philadelphia, PA – Of the 19 winners this season on the end tour championship event if it were held today.
Both of the outsiders turned pro after winning as amateurs, but one -- Harris English -- is threatening to get into the last field while cashing only a few paychecks.
English's last event as an amateur was at this year's Nationwide Children's Hospital Invitational, where he duked it out with fellow amateur John Peterson all week en route to a victory and a prize of $0. It would have been $144,000, one of the more lucrative on tour, but his amateur status prevented him from scoring a big payday.
He is one of three amateurs -- two this year -- to ever win on the Nationwide Tour, joining University of Georgia teammate Russell Henley in claiming a victory this year. Henley has also made two straight cuts at the U.S. Open, though it's English who is currently flying under the radar.
English, who turned pro in September after a stellar collegiate career with the Bulldogs in which he was a First-Team All-American (by Golfweek) as a junior, likely never expected to be in the mix for the tour championship event. It includes only the top 60 money leaders, where the top 25 earn their PGA Tour cards for the next year.
But after his performance over the last two months, English has put himself in a position where two solid performances could have the 22-year-old going from Bulldog to PGA Tour regular in less than a year.
In four events as a professional on the Nationwide Tour, English has done everything but win. He's missed only one cut, lost a playoff and finished third last week. If he accepted the winning check after his victory, English would be a mortal lock for the 2012 PGA Tour, but for now chances are better he'll have to make it through qualifying school later this year.
English enters this week as the No. 61 ranked player on the tour's money list -- incredible for someone with only three paychecks -- and he trails No. 60 Andrew Buckle by a mere $1,900. The winner of this week's event in Jacksonville receives a lofty $108,000, which would easily vault English into the top 25.
It's a great story on the Nationwide Tour that nobody seems to be talking about -- the guy is in almost every tournament he plays. In a year where several amateurs and young professionals have made it to the big stage, English is just waiting for his chance to do the same.
HOW GOOD HAS SIMPSON BEEN?
Coming into the year, most people couldn't tell you who Webb Simpson is. Now, it's likely that slightly more people could tell you who he is, although I'd bet he wouldn't be noticed eating at a restaurant by most of the public.
Anyway, he's been unbelievably good lately on the PGA Tour, putting together a finish that today's Tiger Woods would certainly envy. Since the Wyndham Championship, which was the last regular season event before the FedEx Cup Playoffs, Simpson has posted two wins and four top-five finishes in six events.
Meanwhile, in the other two events, Simpson finished 10th and 22nd, respectively, and earned six-figure paychecks in both. He's missed only one cut in his last 18 events and earned at least $100,000 in 12 of them.
Simpson will likely end the year leading the money list and become the most unknown money winner ever in the history of the tour. For fans of golf that haven't started following him, it might be time to start doing so.