New Q-School plans starting to take shape

By Doug FergusonDecember 7, 2011, 12:27 am

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Big dreams and a little luck can go a long way in golf, though this much should be clear about the 160 players who finished Q-School, and the 27 players who walked away with a full-time job on the PGA Tour:

They all believed they were good enough to compete at the highest level.

That part shouldn’t change, even as the Tour moves closer to revamping Q-School as we’ve come to know it for nearly 50 years.

If everything goes according to schedule, next December will be the last time that Q-School will earn anyone a ticket straight to the PGA Tour.

The final pieces are starting to come together in a plan that would merge the top 75 players from the Nationwide Tour with the 75 players from the PGA Tour who failed to qualify for the FedEx Cup playoffs. They would play a three-tournament series, and the top 50 would earn PGA Tour cards. The rest could go back to Q-School to try to earn status on the Nationwide Tour.

It’s a revolutionary plan, and not very popular among traditionalists.

While it strengthens the Nationwide Tour, and tries to ensure that only the best players reach the big leagues, the PGA Tour is eliminating the dreamers who have provided so much charm to the most grueling week in golf at Q-School.

This week alone, the 27 winners at Q-School included a guy who played his last five holes in 5 under par to earn his PGA Tour card, and a 38-year-old who, only a few years ago, was working on a farm in North Carolina to pay the bills. There’s always someone who endured a family tragedy or a health scare, who was driving a delivery truck or working in a pizza restaurant to pay for a chance to play golf for a living. Only the names change. Those stories are as cool now as they were when Q-School began in 1965.

And that’s what makes Steve Stricker, who is on the PGA Tour policy board, pause when considering the change.

“I would like to see them keep a few more spots – maybe 10 spots or something like that,” Stricker said. “I still think it would be nice if somebody had the opportunity to get a quick turn on Tour. I believe, though, it’s going to be better for a better player. It’s going to bring out talent over a longer period of time. If I was a good player, I would love to have the whole year to prove myself for 50 spots.”

While the details are still being discussed, the plan is starting to take shape.

Tour officials believe they have a solution for the amateurs (mostly college players) who no longer have a chance to earn their card at Q-School, like Rickie Fowler last year and Dustin Johnson in 2007. And it would keep these rising stars from having to skip the U.S. Amateur or Walker Cup.

One idea is to apply whatever money they earn as amateurs to the money list, even though they still don’t get paid. Call it fake money.

UCLA sophomore Patrick Cantlay, for example, would have earned $343,088 in four PGA Tour events he played this summer. That money would have put him around No. 155 on the money list, meaning he would qualify for the three-tournament series that awards 50 Tour cards. That would allow amateurs to accept exemptions at any time of the year, such as Bay Hill, which offers a spot to the U.S. Amateur champion.

If not, the Tour fears college players would turn pro after the NCAA championship in late spring.

As for the three-tournament series, the last thing the Tour wants is another points system like the FedEx Cup. The idea getting most of the attention is to base it off Nationwide Tour earnings.

The top 25 from the Nationwide Tour money list – players who previously would have automatically earned PGA Tour cards – would be seeded No. 1 through No. 25. The next seed would be shared by No. 26 on the Nationwide money list and No. 126 on the PGA Tour money list. The PGA Tour player would be assigned the same money as his counterpart from the Nationwide Tour.

Some of the early calculations have shown that top 25 would be virtually assured of finishing among the top 50 to earn their cards; and that anyone winning one of those three tournaments also would be a lock to earn a card.

The Tour wants to start this in the fall of 2013. After that three-tournament series ends, the new season would start with what used to be the Fall Series.

Jim Furyk goes on the policy board next year. What concerns him is that the players who earn cards out of Q-School in 2012 will have only eight months to try to get into the FedEx Cup playoffs and keep their cards; they no longer would have the Fall Series to help them.

“I’m torn with the proposals out there,” Furyk said. “Because there are going to be situations – injuries, different things – that happen that don’t give you an opportunity to get back on Tour. I’m worried about blending the Nationwide and the regular Tour together. The first year we do this, the rookies and first-timers get an extremely short season.

“I know the Tour has an idea what they want to accomplish, but I don’t think they have all the details yet,” he said. “And I’m a details guy.”

The overhaul seems to be inevitable, though. Next year is likely to be the last that players with big dreams can have a great week or a great finish, and the reward will be a job on the PGA Tour.

What won’t change is that the best players will find a way.

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After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 am

Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard


On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.

Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

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Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

He picked up one more No. 2, too.

The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

“It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.

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Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 1:05 am

Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.

His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.

“I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."

Tiger Woods winning with his "C game" may be a distant memory for golf fans, but no matter what game he brings, his next chance to win comes next week at Torrey Pines during his official comeback to the PGA Tour.

Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.

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Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:00 am

Jon Rahm birdied the fourth extra hole Sunday to defeat Andrew Landry in a playoff, win the CareerBuilder Challenge and move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here’s how things played out in overtime at PGA West:

Leaderboard: Rahm (-22), Landry (-22), John Huh (-20), Adam Hadwin (-20), Martin Piller (-20), Kevin Chappell (-19), Scott Piercy (-19)

What it means: This is Rahm’s second PGA Tour win and his fourth worldwide victory in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. Rahm took the early lead Thursday with an opening 62 and after rounds of 67-70, he started the final round two back. On Sunday, he made five birdies without dropping a single shot on the intimidating Stadium Course. In the clubhouse at 22 under, Rahm watched as Landry made birdie on 18 to force a playoff.

Rahm missed birdie putts that would have ended the tournament on the final hole of regulation and on each playoff hole. Finally, on his fourth trip down 18 of the day, his birdie bid found the cup. With the victory, Rahm passes Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, trailing only Dustin Johnson. He enters next week at Torrey Pines looking to defend for the first time.

Best of the rest: A two-time Web.com winner playing his second full season on the PGA Tour, Landry shot 68 Sunday, making birdie on the 72nd hole to force extras. Once Rahm finally made birdie on the fourth playoff hole, Landry's putt to extend slid by on the right edge. This is Landry's best career finish on the PGA Tour. Had he won, he would have secured full Tour status through the 2019-20 season and earned invites to the Masters, Players, and PGA Championships.

Round of the day: Sam Saunders fired an 8-under 64 to register this best finish of the season, a tie for eighth at 18 under. The reigning Web.com Tour Championship winner was 9 under par through 12 holes before making bogey at 13 and parring his way into the clubhouse.

Biggest disappointment: Overnight leader Austin Cook was eyeing his second win of the season but never contended. The RSM champion carded two double bogeys Sunday en route to a 3-over 75, dropping him from the 54-hole lead to a tie for 14th.

Shot of the day: Rahm's putt to win:

Quote of the day: "One of us had to do it and either one of us would have been a well-deserving champion." - Rahm on his playoff victory over Landry