FORT WAYNE, Ind. (AP) — Bud Cauley won the Hotel Fitness Championship on Sunday to regain his PGA Tour card, earning $180,000 in the Web.com Tour Finals opener.
Cauley closed with a bogey-free 7-under 65 at Sycamore Hills for a one-stroke victory over Colt Knost. The 24-year-old former Alabama player won his first professional title.
"I've dreamt of winning golf tournaments on tour," Cauley said. "It's probably 80-20 between celebration and relief. It was a lot of fun today. Winning is what we aspire to do."
Sidelined six weeks this summer after dislocating his left shoulder, Cauley birdied five of the first six holes and added birdies on the par-5 12th and 15th. He finished at 20-under 268.
"I knew I had to get off to a quick start and get a few of those (birdies) to get up with those guys and get near the lead," Cauley said. "I knew a quick start was huge. ... The whole day I was watching. I knew with the par 5s on the back that I needed to keep making birdies."
Cauley was 143rd in the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup standings, forcing him to play the Web.com Tour Finals for the second straight year. Nos. 126-200 in the FedEx Cup and Nos. 26-75 on the Web.com Tour's regular-season money list are playing for 25 PGA Tour cards based on earnings in the four-event series, with Cauley earning more than enough Sunday to secure a spot.
He injured his shoulder in July in the John Deere Classic, and missed the cut in the regular-season ending Wyndham Championship in his lone start before the Finals opener.
"After sitting around home for a while, it's nice to come out and play and play well and get my first win as a pro," Cauley said. "Today was a lot of fun. I'm looking forward to playing next week."
Knost, the third-round leader, shot 68, missing a 10-foot birdie try on the final hole. He earned $108,000 to wrap up a tour card after finishing 34th on the Web.com Tour money list.
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