Q School


In case you care about golf, not Tiger Woods gossip, here’s a bit of golf news for you.

The PGA Tour’s 2009 version of Q School just wrapped up.

Grizzled Tour vet Jeff Maggert told Q School to make him a sandwich. (Image: fortsonre/Flickr)

Troy Merritt led the way at -22 to take medalist honors and finish ahead of Tour veteran Jeff Maggert. Interesting that Merritt has never played in a Tour event and Maggert is the proverbial grizzled veteran with a Ryder Cup appearance on his resume.

Q School always has its share of heartbreaks and meltdowns. Just ask Joe Daley. Or read John Feinstein’s Tales from Q School.

This year’s story comes from James Hahn. Hahn needed a two putt from 65 feet (now that’s difficult) to earn his card. He left the long putt 10 feet short, missed the clinching putt by 2 feet, then proceeded to lip out his third putt.

Maggert, Neal Lancaster, J.P. Hayes, Joe Ogilvie, and Chris Riley were the former Tour players who re-earned their Tour cards. David Duval, Todd Hamilton, and Shaun Micheel were three former major champs who failed to qualify.

Click here for a list of 2009 Q School graduates.

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The first stage of PGA Tour Q School wrapped up last week.

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Former world number one David Duval will head back to the final stage of Q School next month. (Image: requiemjp/Flickr)

Ty Tryon was one of the familiar names who advanced on to second stage, which will take place on November 18-21. The final stage of Qualifying School is scheduled for December 2-7 at Bear Lakes Country Club. David Duval is probably the most recognizable name on this year’s list of final stage participants.

In my opinion, Q School is one of the most trying events in professional sports. Guys who somehow manage to work their way through all three stages amaze me. Some top quality players, such as my friend Bryant Odom (whom I profiled last year) never make it through all three stages. It’s just that difficult. And though it’s becoming more and more common for players to earn their way on to the PGA Tour via the Nationwide Tour, Q School should always be a gateway to the Tour, as well.

If you can handle the pressure of Q School, you can handle the pressure of a Tour event. Congratulations  to all the first stage qualifers.

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This photo not representative of Frazar's round. (Image: fouadzabanah/Flickr)

Watch out for Harrison Frazar in 2009.

Dude just threw down at Q School. Over six days, Frazar fired 69-64-72-59-69-67 to finish 32 under, eight shots ahead of his nearest competitor, James Nitties, at Q School’s final and most intimidating, stress-packed stage.

If Frazar can take that kind of game into next year’s Tour season, he could be one of the players to watch. As tough Q School is from a mental standpoint, it’s still just that–a qualifier. Let’s see how Frazar does when he’s once again playing in a standard field Tour players.

Twenty eight players earned their tour card today, including Notah Begay III, Jay Williamson, John Huston, Glen Day, Ted Purdy, Chris Riley and James Oh.

Wil Collins–who made it to the last stage for the first time in seven tries–needed an 18 foot par putt on the final hole to finish -19, exactly on the number. Talk about pressure.

Check out the final leaderboard here.

Other than a couple of tricked up, golfing snooze fests made for television, this is about the last golf tournament of note until next year. The ’09 season can’t get here fast enough.

Tour player Glen Day and Australian pro James Nitties lead the way at the halfway point of the final stage of Q School. Day and Nitties are -15, with names like Bryce Molder, Jay Williamson, Mark Brooks, and Joe Durant closely trailing.

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"Two Gloves" is one shot off the number after shooting a third round 65. (Image: zmaerdstyle/Flickr)

But, let’s be honest, no one really cares about who’s leading at Q School. Everyone wants to know who’s around the dreaded “number”–the top 25. After three rounds, the number is at -10. Big Breaker Tommy “Two Gloves” Gainey fired a 65 today to close within one shot of the mark.

Also, of note, first round leader Craig Kanada has ridden the proverbial roller coaster this week. After an opening 65, Kanada shot 78 yesterday and 68 today to sit two shots off the number. Other names like Guy Boros (-9 T26), Patrick Sheehan (-9 T26), and John Huston (-8 T36) are well within reach of the cutoff.

The PGA Tour website posted an interesting chart that shows how each player in the field qualified for third stage. Some guys are at third stage because they were on the Tour last year, others were exempted to second stage, while some made it through all three stages.

But, talk about a golf gauntlet, there are six guys in the field who actually started this journey at the Q School pre-qualifiers. Pre-qualifiers take place before first stage, and the Tour instituted them because they had too many golf hacks who were plopping down several thousand dollars, shooting 90, and then screwing up the rhythm of the legitimate players. There are still plenty of legitimate players at pre-qualifiers, but most are just guys who played at small college or having little, if any, professional experience.

Of the six guys who started at pre-qualifiers, Martin Piller leads the way at -9, which is T26 and one shot out of the top 25. It wears me out to think about clearing three stages of Q School, much less three stages and a pre-qualifier. Pretty amazing stuff.

The Golf Channel will be broadcasting the final three rounds of Q School: Saturday 4-7 EST; Sunday 4-7 EST; and Monday 3:30 – 7 EST.

Check back for more on Q School from Game Under Repair.

Final Stage first round play starts today at PGA West.

Examining the field, it almost looks like a second-tier Tour event. There are literally dozens of former Tour players at the final stage. But that should be expected. These are the guys who didn’t finish in the top 125, plus those who earned their way through first and/or second stage.

The first round is almost complete. And let’s just say the gauntlet has been dropped–these guys aren’t playing around. Major Manning, Craig Kanada, and Joey Lamielle lead the way with a 65 in the opening round.

If you’re not familiar with Q-School–and if you’re reading this blog you probably are–it’s basically the equivalent of PGA Tour boot camp. Six extremely intense days of golf–guys literally playing for their livelihood.

Bookmark Game Under Repair and keep coming back for updates on the action at PGA West. I covered first stage and second stage, including an interview with one of the participants, so I’ll be doing the same for this final portion of the grueling event.

For a great read about the triumphs and travesties of Q-School, check out John Feinstein’s book, Tales From Q School.

To check out final stage scores, click here.

More accurately, four of the six second stage sites concluded over the weekend. Top 20 players, plus ties, from each site advance on to third stage next month at PGA West. A quick summary:

Brooksville, Florida: Todd Demsey and Camilo Benedetti (-13) led the way at Southern Hills Plantation Club. Seven under was the number needed to qualify for third stage. Some notables who made it through include John Huston (-11), Robert Gamez (-11), and Marco Dawson (-8). Erik Compton and Grant Waite just missed qualifying.

Kingwood, Texas: Chris Stroud (-14) cruised to low medalist honors at Deerwood Golf Club. Some of the names who shot -4 or better–the number needed to qualify–included Willie Wood (-9), former PGA Champion Mark Brooks (-6), Brad Elder (-6), and Glen Day (-5). J.L. Lewis and Omar Uresti are a couple of former Tour players who missed the number at Deerwood.

Panama City Beach, Florida: Steve Wheatcroft fired a -15 to take medalist honors at the Hombre Bad/Ugly course. Guy Boros (-8) and Harrison Frazar (-7) easily qualified for third stage, clearing the four under number by several shots.

Pine Mountain, Georgia: Robert Damron (-17) tied for medalist honors with Chris Riley and Oskar Bergmann at Callaway Gardens. Ryder Cup Assistant Captain Olin Browne finish T7 at -12 to easily get through to third stage, along with former Tour player Jay Delsing, who finished right on the qualifying number at -9. Billy Andrade finished T33 (-6) to finish outside the number.

The final two sites–Oak Valley Golf Club in Beumont, California and Lantana Golf Club in Lantana, Texas–will begin play this week.

The third and notoriously pressure-filled final stage of Q School will take place December 3-8 at PGA West in La Quinta, California.

Q School is about as interesting as it gets in the golf world during December. Game Under Repair will cover all the action.¬† If you’re a golf geek like me, then stay tuned.

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Gamez tied for the lead at the Brooksville second stage site. (Image: rbglasson/Flickr)

Two rounds complete at the second stage sites. Top 20 players at each site will advance to third stage.

Familiar names scattered throughout all four fields. Some of the more recognizable names include: Billy Andrade, Trevor Dodds, Robert Damron, Olin Browne, Robert Gamez, Jim McGovern, Jim Gallagher, Jr., Skip Kendall, Per-Ulrik Johanson, Harrison Frazar. And those are just a few of the notables.

A quick rundown of the leaders at the four sites:

Brooksville, Florida: Five players, including Robert Gamez, tied at -7. The number (top 20) right now looks to be -3 at Brooksville, but I’m sure that will change over the next two days. Erik Compton and Grant Waite both sit T16 at -4.

Kingwood, Texas: Richard Johnson leads the Kingwood field at -10. The number right now at Kingwood is about -3. Willie Wood, Glen Day, and Brad Elder are a few of the notables who are currently in position to advance to third stage.

Panama City, Florida: Geoffrey Sisk dropped a 62 on the field today, and he currently leads the way at -11. Looks like -3 is also the cut off mark in Panama City. Hombre is a mean course, though. So that number could back up a bit over the next two days. Of the PCB field, Harrison Frazar and Guy Boros are a couple of the former Tour players currently in the top 20.

Pine Mountain, Georgia: In the Callaway Gardens field, former Tour player Robert Damron leads at -11. Justin Bolli, Trevor Dodds, Olin Browne and Billy Andrade are in the top 20 after two rounds. The number right now at Callaway is -5, with nine guys tied for 20th. The scores will disperse a bit over the next two days, I’m sure. But 9 players for 1 spot would definitely make a tense playoff.

My friend Bryant Odom, profiled earlier this week, bounced back from a 77 to shoot 67 today, and he’s currently T61, even par for the tournament. Nice recovery. Right now, he’s about five or six shots off the pace to qualify for third stage. But who knows how that will fluctuate over the next two days. I think he’s still in good shape after today’s great round.

If you’re interested, here are the links to the leaderboards at each site:

Brooksville

Kingwood

Panama City

Callaway Gardens

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