Lee, Fisher, Compton among Q-School grads

By Doug FergusonDecember 4, 2012, 12:25 am

LA QUINTA, Calif. – D.H. Lee of South Korea wiped away a single tear when he realized he had earned a job on the PGA Tour. Moments later, Edward Loar stood tall as he spoke about two shots into the water on the last two holes at Q-School that sent him back to the minor leagues.

Amid this familiar contrast of emotions, a sense of nostalgia swept across the California desert late Monday afternoon.

'To get this one is extra special, knowing that next year guys won't have this opportunity,' said Scott Langley, one of 25 players who earned cards in the final edition of this six-round tournament that offers a ticket to the richest tour in golf.

The PGA Tour next year will end a half-century of tradition when Q-School will only provide cards to the secondary Web.com Tour.

The PGA Tour is changing its structure to make it more competitive than ever. The players who failed to reach the FedEx Cup playoffs will meet in a series of four tournaments called 'The Finals,' and the 25 players who earn the most money from those events will get their cards.


The Last Q-School: Articles, videos and photos

Profiles of the 26 Q-School graduates


That was on the mind of so many players who sweated out six days over two golf courses at PGA West.

Lee birdied his last three holes for a 5-under 67 on the Stadium Course to win Q-School, which gives him the highest priority of the 25 players who earned cards, along with a $50,000 first-place check. Ross Fisher of England, who won two matches at the Ryder Cup two years ago in Wales, was among those who finished one shot behind.

Fisher has played plenty in America, mostly the majors and World Golf Championships because of his world ranking. But when he heard about the PGA Tour's change, he skipped the season-ending European Tour event in Dubai to get ready for Q-School.

'This game can go high and it can go low,' Fisher said. 'Last year for me was not great. This year has been a work in progress. But it was the last year of Q-School, and it was nice to create a bit of history to be one of the guys at the last one.'

Camilo Villegas, who won back-to-back FedEx Cup playoff events in 2008, had to return to Q-School and missed his card by two shots. Villegas said he would hope for sponsor exemptions to try to get back his full status.

Heath Slocum, only three years removed from a FedEx Cup playoff win in which he beat Tiger Woods, Ernie Els, Steve Stricker and Padraig Harrington with a birdie on the last hole, also failed to get through. Slocum needed a birdie on his last hole, but a bad swing came at the wrong time. He pulled his tee shot into the water and made bogey. A day earlier, Slocum's ball moved a fraction of an inch before a putt and he called a one-shot penalty on himself.

'They say crazy stuff happens in Q-School, and it does,' Slocum said. 'That's never happened before. That's one shot. You never know when one shot can help.'

Among those earning their cards was Erik Compton, who only four years ago nearly died of a heart attack while driving himself to the hospital. He made it in time to survive and get a second heart transplant.

'This is hell week,' said Compton, who said he slept only two hours each of the last two nights. 'There was a sense of urgency for me. I don't know if my health is going to hold up. If I could only go to the Web.com Tour, I probably would beat myself up.'

Robert Karlsson, another former Ryder Cup player whose game was in such disrepair that he withdrew from the British Open this year because he didn't know where the ball was going, made it with three strokes to spare.

The list also includes Donald Constable of Minnesota, who had to go through a pre-qualifier and then three more stages of Q-school to reach the PGA Tour. Constable sweated it out to the very end. Needing a par on the 18th hole of the Stadium Course, he hit his tee shot into an area of thin sand in a bunker, found the far end of the green and lagged a 45-foot to within 5 feet of the cup. Facing the most meaningful putt of his life, he poured it right in the middle.

How would he have felt next year if that putt only meant a spot on the Web.com Tour?

'It's hard to say,' Constable said. 'Obviously, this is something you're working toward your whole life. It makes it tougher, knowing it's right there and you're so close and one shot can make a difference. It would probably be easier if you were only playing for the Web.com Tour.'

Constable is a throwback in other ways. He finished his college eligibility at Minnesota a year ago, but stayed an amateur an additional year so he could complete his degree. He graduated in the spring with a degree in sociology.

The status was more confusing for Si Woo Kim, the 17-year-old South Korean with a flawless swing who already is known by PGA Tour players who have competed against him, a list that includes Rickie Fowler. 'This guy can play,' said Fowler, who faced him in the Korea Open last year.

Yes, but he might not be playing that much.

Kim, even though he earned his card, cannot become a PGA Tour member until he turns 18 on June 28. The only way he can get into PGA Tour events until he turns 18 is through sponsor exemptions (no more than seven) or through Monday qualifying. Whatever FedEx Cup points he earns until his birthday will not show up on the list until he officially becomes a PGA Tour member.

But he's in, and as most players believe, talent comes through under any circumstances.

Loar can only hope that's the case.

It took the former Oklahoma State star 13 years just to reach the PGA Tour, and he was in good shape to return going into the final day of Q-School, just three shots out of the lead. But he showed some nerves early, began dropping shots and found himself only one shot inside the cutoff when he stood on the tee at the par-3 17th, an island green. His 9-iron came up short and went into the water, leading to double bogey. Needing a birdie on the last hole to get his card, his approach drifted left and into the water.

He missed by two.

'It's obviously a hard day for everyone. What else can I say?' Loar said. 'I tried hard. We all know how cruel the game is. I can learn from it. I persevered for 13 years, so hopefully, this won't set me back too much.'


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Singh's lawsuit stalls as judge denies motion

By Rex HoggardJanuary 23, 2018, 7:54 pm

Vijay Singh’s attempts to speed up the proceedings in his ongoing lawsuit against the PGA Tour have been stalled, again.

Singh – who filed the lawsuit in New York Supreme Court in May 2013 claiming the Tour recklessly administered its anti-doping program when he was suspended, a suspension that was later rescinded – sought to have the circuit sanctioned for what his attorneys argued was a frivolous motion, but judge Eileen Bransten denied the motion earlier this month.

“While the court is of the position it correctly denied the Tour’s motion to argue, the court does not agree that the motion was filed in bad faith nor that it represents a ‘persistent pattern of repetitive or meritless motions,’” Bransten said.

It also doesn’t appear likely the case will go to trial any time soon, with Bransten declining Singh’s request for a pretrial conference until a pair of appeals that have been sent to the court’s appellate division have been decided.

“What really should be done is settle this case,” Bransten said during the hearing, before adding that it is, “unlikely a trail will commence prior to 2019.”

The Tour’s longstanding policy is not to comment on ongoing litigation, but earlier this month commissioner Jay Monahan was asked about the lawsuit.

“I'll just say that we're going through the process,” Monahan said. “Once you get into a legal process, and you've been into it as long as we have been into it, I think it's fair to assume that we're going to run it until the end.”

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Videos and images from Tiger's Tuesday at Torrey

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 23, 2018, 7:45 pm

Tiger Woods played a nine-hole practice round Tuesday at Torrey Pines South, site of this week's Farmers Insurance Open. Woods is making his first PGA Tour start since missing the cut in this event last year. Here's a look at some images and videos of Tiger, via social media:







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Power Rankings: 2018 Farmers Insurance Open

By Will GrayJanuary 23, 2018, 6:59 pm

The PGA Tour remains in California this week for the Farmers Insurance Open. A field of 156 players will tackle the North and South Courses at Torrey Pines, with weekend play exclusively on the South Course.

Be sure to join the all-new Golf Channel Fantasy Challenge - including a new One & Done game offering - to compete for prizes and form your own leagues, and log on to www.playfantasygolf.com to submit your picks for this week's event.

Jon Rahm won this event last year by three shots over Charles Howell III and C.T. Pan. Here are 10 names to watch in La Jolla:

1. Jon Rahm: No need to overthink it at the top. Rahm enters as a defending champ for the first time, fresh off a playoff win at the CareerBuilder Challenge that itself was preceded by a runner-up showing at Kapalua. Rahm is perhaps the hottest player in the field, and with a chance to become world No. 1 should be set for another big week.

2. Jason Day: The Aussie has missed the cut here the last two years, and he hasn't played competitively since November. But he ended a disappointing 2017 on a slight uptick, and his Torrey Pines record includes three straight top-10s from 2013-15 that ended with his victory three years ago.

3. Justin Rose: Rose ended last year on a tear, with three victories over his final six starts including two in a row in Turkey and China. The former U.S. Open winner has the patience to deal with a brutal layout like the South Course, as evidenced by his fourth-place showing at this event a year ago.

4. Rickie Fowler: This tournament has become somewhat feast-or-famine for Fowler, who is making his ninth straight start at Torrey Pines. The first four in that run all netted top-20 finishes, including two top-10s, while the last four have led to three missed cuts and a T-61. After a win in the Bahamas and T-4 at Kapalua, it's likely his mini-slump comes to an end.

5. Brandt Snedeker: Snedeker has become somewhat of a course specialist at Torrey Pines in recent years, with six top-10 finishes over the last eight years including wins in both 2012 and 2016. While he missed much of the second half of 2017 recovering from injury and missed the cut last week, Snedeker is always a threat to contend at this particular event.

6. Hideki Matsuyama: Matsuyama struggled to find his footing after a near-miss at the PGA Championship, but he appears to be returning to form. The Japanese phenom finished T-4 at Kapalua and has put up solid results in two of his four prior trips to San Diego, including a T-16 finish in his 2014 tournament debut. Matsuyama deserves a look at any event that puts a strong emphasis on ball-striking.

7. Tony Finau: Finau has the length to handle the difficult demands of the South Course, and his results have gotten progressively better each time around: T-24 in 2015, T-18 in 2016 and T-4 last year. Finau is coming off the best season of his career, one that included a trip to the Tour Championship, and he put together four solid rounds at the Sony Open earlier this month.

8. Charles Howell III: Howell is no stranger to West Coast golf, and his record at this event since 2013 includes three top-10 finishes highlighted by last year's runner-up showing. Howell chased a T-32 finish in Hawaii with a T-20 finish last week in Palm Springs, his fourth top-20 finish this season.

9. Marc Leishman: Leishman was twice a runner-up at this event, first in 2010 and again in 2014, and he finished T-20 last year. The Aussie is coming off a season that included two wins, and he has amassed five top-10s in his last eight worldwide starts dating back to the Dell Technologies Championship in September.

10. Gary Woodland: Woodland played in the final group at this event in 2014 before tying for 10th, and he was one shot off the lead entering the final round in 2016 before Mother Nature blew the entire field sideways. Still, the veteran has three top-20s in his last four trips to San Diego and finished T-7 two weeks ago in Honolulu.

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Davis on distance: Not 'necessarily good for the game'

By Will GrayJanuary 23, 2018, 6:28 pm

It's a new year, but USGA executive Mike Davis hasn't changed his views on the growing debate over distance.

Speaking with Matt Adams on SiriusXM PGA Tour Radio, Davis didn't mince words regarding his perception that increased distance has had a negative impact on the game of golf, and he reiterated that it's a topic that the USGA and R&A plan to jointly address.

"The issue is complex. It's important, and it's one that we need to, and we will, face straight on," Davis said. "I think on the topic of distance, we've been steadfast to say that we do not think increased distance is necessarily good for the game."

Davis' comments echoed his thoughts in November, when he stated that the impact of increased distance has been "horrible" for the game. Those comments drew a strong rebuke from Titleist CEO Wally Uihlein, who claimed there was "no evidence" to support Davis' argument.

That argument, again reiterated Tuesday, centers on the rising costs associated with both acquiring and maintaining increased footprints for courses. Davis claimed that 1 in 4 courses in the U.S. is currently "not making money," and noted that while U.S. Open venues were 6,800-6,900 yards at the start of his USGA tenure, the norm is now closer to 7,400-7,500 yards.

"You ask yourself, 'What has this done for the game? How has that made the game better?'" Davis said. "I think if we look at it, and as we look to the future, we're asking ourselves, saying, 'We want the game of golf to be fun.' We want it to continue to be challenging and really let your skills dictate what scores you should shoot versus necessarily the equipment.

"But at the same time, we know there are pressures on golf courses. We know those pressures are going to become more acute."