To illustrate how every stroke counts in the world of professional golf, examine the fate of Webb Simpson.
The 25-year-old has rocketed up the charts in his third full season on the PGA Tour, and entered The Greenbrier Classic ranked 53rd in the world. He needed to reach the top 50, as did No. 52 Ryan Palmer, to play in the lucrative no-cut Bridgestone Invitational this week in Akron, Ohio.
Palmer missed the cut and fell to the wayside. As it turns out, he dropped to 54th in the Official World Golf Ranking that came out after Sunday.
Simpson not only made the cut, he led briefly in the last week at the Old White TPC. A victory would have rendered that world ranking thing moot, as that carried an automatic bid to the Bridgestone, the PGA Championship and the 2012 Masters.
That didn't pan out, and he shot a 2-over-par 38 on the back nine Sunday and fell two shots out of the lead, finishing in a two-way tie for ninth. When the world ranking came out, he was in 51st, tantalizingly close to No. 50.
How close? His two-year average of 2.646 points was just below the 2.652 average of Japan's Ryo Ishikawa. Both were ranked over their last 54 events over two years, and Simpson has scored 142.886 points, 0.316 behind Ishikawa.
Simpson received 4.9 points for his Greenbrier finish. One fewer bogey - and he had three on the back nine Sunday - and he would have finished in a six-way tie for fourth.
Had that happened, he would have scored 6.56, 1.66 more than he actually did. That not only would have raised him above Ishikawa, but also No. 49 Sergio Garcia. And he would be playing in Akron, where last place won $35,500 last year, and the winner took home $1.4 million.
On the other hand, one stroke appears to have put Cameron Tringale into the PGA Championship. He followed a first-round 70 with three 67s to finish in the five-way tie for fourth at The Greenbrier Classic, earning $226,000.
One PGA Championship criterium is making the top 70 of a special yearlong money list that ended Sunday. Tringale jumped from 83rd to 69th, surpassing the 71st player by about $24,000.
Had he missed his birdie putt on the 72nd hole of the Classic? He would have finished in a three-way tie for eighth, netting $174,000 - or $52,000 less and watching golf's fourth major on the tube.
Yes, one stroke can mean everything.
The tournament scoring average finished at 70.593, more than a half-stroke above the par of 70. There were 1,424 birdies, but that was down from 1,801 last year. The number of bogeys and worse was higher at 1,543.
There were 20 eagles, three on par-4 hole-outs.
Reach Doug Smock 304-348-5130 or dougsm...@wvgazette.com.