The Scariest Q-School Ever
Inevitably the talk got around to the 2000 Q-School at PGA West, probably the most bizarre of its kind in recent (or any) memory.
Three names immediately dominated the conversation and not one of them was Australian Stephen Allan, the so-called Baby-Faced Assassin who won medalist honors in the 108-hole crucible. Nor was one of them Tim ONeal who, with two holes to play on the final day needed two bogeys to get his card. ONeal finished bogey, triple bogey.
The famously infamous three: Joe Daley, David Gossett and Cliff Kresge.
Only Kresge, of the three, would survive that Q-School and earn his playing privileges on the PGA TOUR for 2001. Daley would miss by one stinking shot. Gossett would fade into obscurity but not before doing something that almost certainly will never be duplicated.
It was still early days when Kresge, grinding like a Harvard law school student during final exams, began walking backward, in a crouch, while reading a putt. Before Kresge, or anybody else knew what had happened, Kresge had toppled off the railroad ties and into a Pete Dye water hazard. Total submersion.
Fortunately for Kresge the water wasnt deep. But he was soaked. It made Woody Austins Aquaman performance at this years Presidents Cup look tame by comparison.
Also, fortunately for Kresge, there was a TOUR official in a cart nearby. Kresge threw him the keys to his car and told him where he could find his vehicle. The instructions: Get my rain pants and a dry pair of shoes out of my trunk.
Kresges playing partners had already teed off on the next hole when the official arrived with the goods. Kresge hastily teed off before being DQd. Amazingly, he birdied the hole. Pretty soon the desert sun dried out the part of him that was still wet. And by Monday he had splashed his way to a ticket to the PGA TOUR in 2001.
Update: Kresge finished 113th on the money list in 2007 and will be back out in the Big Show for 2008.
Daley wasnt so lucky. On Saturday that week he was easing along at 16-under par and near the top of the leader board. On his 17th hole of the day, a 158-yard par 3, he pulled a 7-iron into the water and played his third shot to 18 feet.
His first putt slid four feet by, leaving him with a 4-footer for double. The putt dropped into the hole, hit the top edge of a defective cup liner and bounced out.
Damndest thing Ive ever seen, he would later say.
One cynic in the press room predicted, on the spot, that Daley would miss getting his card by a shot.
After six rounds 417 was the number. Daley finished with 418.
He hasnt been heard or seen on any of golfs big stages since.
All Gossett, a former U.S. Amateur champion and one-time winner on the PGA TOUR, did was fire a Saturday 59 that included his first ever hole-in-one and 11 birdies on the Nicklaus Private course at PGA West. It moved him from 129th to 25th with two rounds to go.
After the 59 his agent ordered him not to talk to reporters. Then he changed his mind. For his part, Gossett never appeared certain of anything those final two days. Not one of his other five rounds was better than 70. He failed to get his card.
Today, David Gossett has no status on the PGA TOUR. He made one cut in seven tries on the Nationwide Tour this year and missed the cut both times in two starts on the PGA TOUR.
Anyway, pretty soon the conversation at the rib shack moved on. Golf people dont like to dwell on haunting stories.
There will almost certainly be more sad tales this week out at Orange County National where Q-School is underway and wraps up Monday.
But the 166 guys fighting for 25 spots will have to go a long way to top the Q-School train wrecks of 2000.
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Ortiz takes Web.com Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas
Former Web.com Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.
Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.
Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Web.com Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Web.com Tour Player of the Year.
McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.
Randall's Rant: Can we please have some rivalries?
Memo to the golf gods:
If you haven’t finalized the fates of today’s stars for the new year, could we get you to deliver what the game has lacked for so long?
Can we get a real, honest-to-goodness rivalry?
It’s been more than two decades since the sport has been witness to one.
With world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship this week, an early-season showdown would percolate hope that this year might be all about rivalries.
It seems as if the stars are finally aligned to make up for our long drought of rivalries, of the recurring clashes you have so sparingly granted through the game’s history.
We’re blessed in a new era of plenty, with so many young stars blossoming, and with Tiger Woods offering hope he may be poised for a comeback. With Johnson, McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler among today’s dynamic cast, the possibility these titans will time their runs together on the back nine of Sundays in majors excites.
We haven’t seen a real rivalry since Greg Norman and Nick Faldo sparred in the late '80s and early '90s.
Woods vs. Phil Mickelson didn’t really count. While Lefty will be remembered for carving out a Hall of Fame career in the Tiger era, with 33 victories, 16 of them with Tiger in the field, five of them major championships, we get that Tiger had no rival, not in the most historic sense.
Phil never reached No. 1, was never named PGA Tour Player of the Year, never won a money title and never dueled with Woods on Sunday on the back nine of a major with the title on the line. Still, it doesn’t diminish his standing as the best player not named Tiger Woods over the last 20 years. It’s a feat so noteworthy it makes him one of the game’s all-time greats.
We’ve been waiting for an honest-to-goodness rivalry since Faldo and Norman took turns ruling at world No. 1 and dueling in big events, including the back nine of multiple majors.
In the '70s, we had Nicklaus-Watson. In the '60s, it was Nicklaus-Palmer. In the '40s and '50s, it was Hogan, Snead and Nelson in a triumvirate mix, and in the '20s and '30s we had Hagen and Sarazen.
While dominance is the magic ingredient that can break a sport out of its niche, a dynamic rivalry is the next best elixir.
Dustin Johnson looks capable of dominating today’s game, but there’s so much proven major championship talent on his heels. It’s hard to imagine him consistently fending off all these challengers, but it’s the fending that would captivate us.
Johnson vs. McIlroy would be a fireworks show. So would Johnson vs. Thomas, or Thomas vs. Day or McIlroy vs. Rahm or Fowler vs. Koepka ... or any of those combinations.
Spieth is a wild card that intrigues.
While he’s not a short hitter, he isn’t the power player these other guys are, but his iron game, short game, putter and moxie combine to make him the most compelling challenger of all. His resolve, resilience and resourcefulness in the final round of his British Open victory at Royal Birkdale make him the most interesting amalgam of skill since Lee Trevino.
Woods vs. any of them? Well, if we get that, we promise never to ask for anything more.
So, if that cosmic calendar up there isn’t filled, how about it? How about a year of rivalries to remember?
McIlroy: 2018 may be my busiest season ever
With his return to competition just days away, Rory McIlroy believes that the 2018 season may be the most action packed of his pro career.
The 28-year-old has not teed it up since the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in early October, a hiatus he will end at this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. It will be the start of a busy spring for the Ulsterman, who will also play next week in Dubai before a run of six PGA Tour events leading up to the Masters.
Speaking to the U.K.'s Telegraph, McIlroy confirmed that he will also make a return trip to the British Masters in October and plans to remain busy over the next 12 months.
"I might play more times this year than any before. I played 28 times in 2008 and I'm on track to beat that," McIlroy said. "I could get to 30 (events), depending on where I'm placed in the Race to Dubai. But I'll see."
McIlroy's ambitious plan comes in the wake of a frustrating 2017 campaign, when he injured his ribs in his first start and twice missed chunks of time in an effort to recover. He failed to win a worldwide event and finished the year ranked outside the top 10, both of which had not happened since 2008.
But having had more than three months to get his body and swing in shape, McIlroy is optimistic heading into the first of what he hopes will be eight starts in the 12 weeks before he drives down Magnolia Lane.
"I've worked hard on my short game and I'm probably feeling better with the putter than I ever have," McIlroy said. "I've had a lot of time to concentrate on everything and it all feels very good and a long way down the road."
What's in the Bag: Sony Open winner Kizzire
Patton Kizzire earned his second PGA Tour victory by winning a six-hole playoff at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Take a look inside his bag.
Driver: Titleist 917D3 (10.5 degrees), with Fujikura Atmos Black 6 X shaft
Fairway Wood: Titleist 917F2 (16.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Blue 95 TX shaft
Hybrid: Titleist 913H (19 degrees), with UST Mamiya AXIV Core 100 Hybrid shaft
Irons: Titleist 718 T-MB (4), 718 CB (5-6), 718 MB (7-9), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts
Wedges: Titleist SM7 prototype (47, 52, 56, 60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts
Putter: Scotty Cameron GoLo Tour prototype
Ball: Titleist Pro V1x