Martin Piller’s tie for sixth place Sunday at the Dean & DeLuca Invitational was a bigger deal than he realized when he came off the 18th green at Colonial Country Club.
With only one other top-10 finish to his credit this season — a tie for fourth at last month’s Valero Texas Open — Piller’s focus in his second stint on the PGA Tour is finishing inside the top 125 on either the money list or FedEx Cup rankings in order to keep his exempt status.
Piller earned his exempt status this season by finishing fifth on the 2015 Web.com Tour priority list.
Piller’s finish Sunday moved him inside the top 125 in earnings, from 145th before the tournament to 114th. And by finishing with one of the 15 lowest scores in this year’s tournament, he guaranteed himself entry into the 2017 Dean & DeLuca Invitational. He made this year’s field via a sponsor’s exemption.
I didn’t even know that was a real thing; that’s great.
Martin Piller on his automatic invite to next year’s event
“I didn’t even know that was a real thing; that’s great,” Piller said of his automatic invite to next year’s event.
After a bogey at No. 17 on Sunday, his focus was more on the disappointment of leaving a shot here or there on a course ripe for scoring. But shooting 9-under 271 for the tournament was a big step in the right direction for the Fort Worth resident and member of Shady Oaks Country Club.
“Yeah, I’d say I took advantage of it,” Piller said. “I wanted to throw a better effort at it today, but overall, yeah, pretty good.”
Piller’s tie for sixth netted him $216,913, bringing his 2016 total to $570,740. Chad Collins finished the 2015 season 125th on the money list at $747,899.
By making the cut in eight of his 14 PGA Tour events in 2016 and with three top-25 finishes, Piller is also knocking on the door of the top 125 in FedEx Cup points. After the Dean & DeLuca Invitational, he sits in 132nd, with an eye on staying on the PGA Tour full-time.
Colleyville resident Chad Campbell finished just one spot below Piller at 8 under following a final-round 63. Campbell knows something about going low at Colonial, with his 61 in the third round of the 2004 tournament tied for the course’s all-time low.
I made my share of putts today, that’s for sure.
Chad Campbell on Sunday’s 63
“I probably made more putts today than I did that round,” Campbell said. “I probably hit it a little better that round. I made my share of putts today, that’s for sure.”
Campbell, a four-time winner on the PGA Tour, hasn’t notched a win since the 2007 Viking Classic. He started Sunday’s round in a tie for 39th but shot up the leaderboard with eight birdies and no bogeys until his final hole of the day.
“It seems like every day I’ve let shots go at the end, and even today I let that shot go on nine,” Campbell said. “I have a little bit of trouble with No. 9 sometimes, but that’s the way it goes. I’m happy with the way I played, though.”
Campbell played No. 9 at plus-5 for the tournament, double-bogeying on Thursday before bogeying the hole in the final three rounds.