A potentially new path to the PGA Tour

By Doug FergusonMarch 23, 2011, 3:24 am

PGA Tour (75x100)ORLANDO, Fla. – Someone’s dream comes true every December.

It could be an All-American from a golf powerhouse or a guy who has been toiling on the mini-tours for longer than he cares to remember. It could be someone as old as Allen Doyle (48) or as young as Ty Tryon (17). Some of them are so choked up they can’t speak. Others are so excited they can’t stop talking.

These are the stories and the emotions of Q-School for those who earn a ticket to the PGA Tour.

And this is what the PGA Tour wants to take away.

“I don’t think I necessarily like that,” J.B. Holmes, speaking from experience. Holmes went straight from Kentucky to the Walker Cup to all three stages of Q-School and had his PGA Tour card. Two months later, he won the Phoenix Open.

And then there’s Rickie Fowler.

He also made it through Q-School on his first try at age 21. Ten months later, he birdied the last four holes at Celtic Manor to earn an improbable halve in a critical singles match at the Ryder Cup.

Why take away an opportunity like that?

Because of all the other stories that don’t have such a happy ending.

“There is some charm to that,” David Duval said of Q-School. “But history shows that romanticism, as attractive as it may be, leads to failure 10 months later when you lose your card and you’re back in the cycle.”

According to the PGA Tour media guide, Q-School has been around since 1965. A record 57 players earned PGA Tour cards in 1983. But as the minor leagues took root, tour officials began taking away the number of cards offered at Q-School and giving more to the top Nationwide players. The thinking was they proved themselves over an entire season.

The next move appears to be radical.

The policy board has given preliminary approval to a concept that essentially would end Q-School as we know it.

At the end of the regular season in Greensboro, N.C., the top 125 in the standings would go to the FedEx Cup playoffs and the money list would be closed for the year.

The next 50 or 75 players would join the top 50 or 75 players from the Nationwide Tour to play the “Finals Series,” comprised of three tournaments that amount to a different kind of playoffs. The top 50 players from those three tournaments would earn their cards for the next season. Consider it 12 rounds of Q-School spread over three weeks.

The pressure could be just as great. The quality of competition would be stronger than ever.

As for Q-School?

It still would be played at the end of the year, but the only cards available would be for the Nationwide Tour. If not for a player’s pride and patience, there shouldn’t be a problem.

Statistics show that players who spend a year on the Nationwide Tour typically are more prepared for the PGA Tour than someone straight out of Q-School. They learn to cope with success and slumps while traveling from week to week. It’s life on the tour, minus the courtesy cars and press coverage.

“I’ve yet to find a serious flaw in it, how it’s not better than what we have,” said Paul Goydos, who is on the policy board. “Is it as romantic and sexy as we had? Maybe not. More efficient? Yeah. We get caught up in the idea that we’re losing a piece of golf tradition that we’ve had our whole lives. But all I’ve ever heard players talk about (Q-School) was that it was torture.”

Among the countless details for the tour to work out is this harrowing prospect – if a player goes through all three stages of Q-School, then wins a record amount of money to lead the Nationwide Tour the next year, he still is not guaranteed a spot on the PGA Tour. He could hit a bad patch during the three-event series and have to start over.

The tour needs an umbrella sponsor for its developmental tour after 2012, and this would make it more appealing. That said, the tour has been looking at the merits of Q-School and the Nationwide Tour long before Nationwide decided to end its sponsorship.

The tour still is providing players a shot at the PGA Tour – just not right away.

Fowler and Jamie Lovemark lost in a playoff at the Frys.com Open toward the end of 2009. One of them went on to earn his card at Q-School (and play in the Ryder Cup), the other went to the Nationwide Tour and led the money list.

Under the proposal, both would have been on the Nationwide Tour.

“Obviously, I was trying to make the PGA Tour, but what I wanted was a place to play,” Fowler said. “Look at Jamie. He found his way here, he just took a side route. I wouldn’t have been upset playing the Nationwide Tour.”

Even so, there’s a stigma about the Nationwide Tour. It’s about settling for second best.

Bill Haas was so disappointed at not making it out of Q-School in 2004 that he said, “I think if I have to play there more than four or five years, I’ll quit golf.”

He played one full year, earned his card through Q-School and has been on the PGA Tour ever since.

One way or another, the best will get through.

Duval was one of the best players of his generation, yet he failed to get through Q-School. After one year on what was then the Nike Tour, he had three runner-up finishes and was 11th on the PGA Tour money list as a rookie.

He is not surprised by the outrage over the potential for something new. Golf, perhaps more than any sport, is slow to embrace change.

“We play a game long on traditions,” Duval said.

No matter how this shakes out, he only wants to make sure one tradition doesn’t change.

“As long as the low score still wins.”

Spieth, Thomas headline winter break trip to Cabo

By Grill Room TeamDecember 15, 2017, 1:05 am

Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. Really good at golf. Really good at vacationing.

With #SB2K18 still months away, Thomas and Spieth headlined a vacation to Cabo San Lucas, and this will shock you but it looks like they had a great time.

Spring break veteran Smylie Kaufman joined the party, as did Thomas' roommate, Tom Lovelady, who continued his shirtless trend.

The gang played all the hits, including shoeless golf in baketball jerseys and late nights with Casamigos tequila.

Image via tom.lovelady on Instagram.

In conclusion, it's still good to be these guys.

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Awards season: Handing out the 2017 Rexys

By Rex HoggardDecember 14, 2017, 7:00 pm

After careful consideration and an exhaustive review of 2017 we present The Rexys, a wildly incomplete and arbitrary line up following one of the most eventful years in golf.

 There will be omissions – just keep your calls, concerns and even e-mails to yourself. We appreciate your patronage, but not your feedback.

It’s Not You, It’s Me Award. You know the deal: You can’t be a part of two until you’re a better one; but on this front it’s really just a desire to find a better two.

It was a tough year for caddies, and not just any caddies. In June, Phil Mickelson split with longtime bagman Jim “Bones” Mackay. Both player and caddie cited the need for “change,” but the move reverberated throughout the game.

“The fairytale is over,” mused one caddie when told of the high-profile split.

In the wake of the Lefty/Bones break, Rory McIlroy split with his caddie J.P Fitzgerald, and Jason Day replaced looper/swing coach Colin Swatton on his bag. It all proves yet again that there are only two kinds of caddies, those who have been fired and those who are about to be fired.

Run for the Rose Cup. Sergio Garcia got the green jacket, a lifetime exemption to the game’s most coveted member-member and a long-awaited major, but Justin Rose took home the slightly less prestigious “Rose Cup.”

Following a frenzied afternoon at Augusta National in April, Rose lost to Garcia on the first playoff hole, but he won so much more with his honesty and class.

“You're going to win majors and you're going to lose majors, but you've got to be willing to lose them,” Rose figured following the final round. “You've got to put yourself out there. You've got to hit the top of the leaderboard. There's a lot of pressure out there and if you're not willing to enjoy it, then you're not ready to win these tournaments. I loved it out there.”

Few have made losing look so dignified and fewer still are as easy to root for.

Half-Empty Cup. It was the perfect setting, with sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline and the promise of the Tristate masses descending on this fall’s Presidents Cup.

If only all those rowdy New Yorkers had something to cheer.

For the sixth time in the last seven matches, the U.S. team rolled to a victory of at least three points. This particular edition was even in danger of ending on Saturday afternoon thanks to a particularly dominant performance by a young American squad led by Steve Stricker.

Officials spoke of the purity of the competition and the attention the ’17 cup generated, but however you spin the 19-11 rout, this cup is half empty.

Enigma Award. The actual hardware is simply an oversized question mark and was sent directly to Tiger Woods’ South Florida compound following the most curious of seasons.

While it’s become customary in recent years to consider the uncertain path that awaits the 14-time major winner, this most recent calendar brought an entirely new collection of questions following fusion surgery on his lower back in April, his arrest for DUI on Memorial Day and, finally, a glimmer of hope born from his tie for ninth at the Hero World Challenge earlier this month.

When will he play again? Can he compete against the current generation of world-beaters? Can his body withstand the rigors of a full PGA Tour schedule? Should Jim Furyk make him a captain’s pick now or wait to see if he should be driving a vice captain’s golf cart instead?

Little is certain when it comes to Woods, and the over-sized question mark goes to ... the guy in red and black.

After Further Review Chalice. In April, Lexi Thompson endured a heartbreaking loss at the ANA Inspiration, the byproduct of a surreal ruling that arrived a day late via a viewer e-mail and cost the would-be winner a major championship.

The entire event was so unsavory that the USGA and R&A made not one but two alterations to the rules and created a “working group” to avoid similar snafus in the future.

That working group – it turns out the U.S. Ryder Cup team has some sort of copyright on “task force” – initially issued a decision that introduced a “reasonable judgment” and a “naked eye” standard to video reviews, and last week the rule makers kept the changes coming.

The new protocols on video review will now include an official to monitor tournament broadcasts and ended the practice of allowing fans to call in, or in this case e-mail, possible infractions to officials. The USGA and R&A also eliminated the two-stroke penalty for players who sign incorrect scorecards when the player is unaware of the penalty.

While all this might be a step in the right direction, it does nothing to change Thompson’s fate. The AFR Chalice won’t change the harsh reality, but at least it will serve as a reminder of how she helped altered the rulemaking landscape.

Nothing Runs Like a Deere Award. Nothing gets fans fired up like officials turning fields of fescue rough into hay on the eve of a major championship, and the USGA’s decision to do some 11th-hour trimming at Erin Hills in June certainly caught many by surprise.

Officials said the nip/tuck on four holes was in reaction to a particularly foreboding forecast that never materialized, and the maintenance drew the ire of some players.

“We have 60 yards from left line to right line,” Rory McIlroy said. “You’ve got 156 of the best players in the world here; if we can’t hit it within that avenue, you might as well pack your bags and go home.”

The record low scoring at the U.S. Open – winner Brooks Koepka finished with a 16-under total – didn’t help ease the fervor and had some questioning whether the softer side of the USGA has gone a bit too far?

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Podcast: Daly takes big pride in 'Little John'

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 5:28 pm

John Daly is a two-time major champion, but the newest trophy in his household belongs to someone else.

That’s because Daly’s son, 14-year-old Little John “LJ” Daly, rallied to capture an IJGT junior golf event over the weekend. The younger Daly birdied the first extra hole to win a five-person playoff at Harbour Town Golf Links, site of the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage.

Daly recently sat down for a Golf Channel podcast to describe what it’s like to cheer for his son and PNC Father-Son Challenge partner, share the unique challenge presented by the upcoming Diamond Resorts Invitational and reflect on some of the notable highs of a career that has now spanned more than 25 years.

Sneds starts slowly in Masters invite bid

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 4:22 pm

Brandt Snedeker flew halfway around the world in search of a Masters invite, but after one round of the Indonesian Masters it appears he'll likely return home empty-handed.

Snedeker made only two birdies during his opening round in Indonesia, shooting an even-par 72 that left him in a tie for 77th and 10 shots behind leader Justin Rose. This is the final OWGR-rated event of 2017, and as a result it has drawn several notable entrants, including Snedeker, who hope to crack the top 50 in the world rankings by year's end to secure a trip to Augusta National.

Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters

Snedeker started the year ranked No. 28, but after missing five months because of injury he entered the week ranked No. 51 and is projected to slip even further by the end of the month. As a result, he likely needs a top-3 finish in order to secure a return to the Masters, which he has missed only once since 2007.

World No. 55 Dylan Frittelli also struggled, shooting a 4-over 76 in the opening round, while No. 56 Kiradech Aphibarnrat is tied for 14th at 4 under. Yusaku Miyazato, currently 58th in the world, is tied for ninth and five shots behind Rose.

Should Snedeker and the other hopefuls fail to crack the top 50 by the end of the year, two paths to the Masters remain: win a full-point event on the PGA Tour in early 2018 or be inside the top 50 in the world rankings when the final cutoff is made on March 25.