Which potential card carrier makes best story?

By Jason SobelNovember 29, 2011, 5:00 pm

Oldies and goodies, wannabes and daydream believers, they are all duking it out for 25 PGA Tour cards this week at PGA West, during the six-round culmination of Q-School. GolfChannel.com senior writers Jason Sobel, Randall Mell and Rex Hoggard offer up who they think would make for the best story to earn full playing privileges in 2012.

David Duval


This isn’t supposed to be how it works for former No. 1-ranked players.

No, this small group of elite players over the past quarter-century are meant to remain at the top of their profession for years. When their games fade, they are granted unlimited special exemptions until the time they are ushered into the Hall of Fame, forever bronzed as one of the all-time greats.

David Duval has taken a much different career path, to say the least. A former No. 1, his game has taken a precipitous downturn in the past decade. Yes, there have been exemptions – season-long passes for top-25 on career money list, top-50 on career money list and even one for “family crisis” – but those have dried up.

Other than his status as past champion of 13 sanctioned events, Duval no longer has any position on the PGA Tour after finishing 152nd on the 2011 money list. Soon after the season ended, he was unsure about heading to Q-School, but eventually decided to compete in second stage, where he finished second.

And so now the former No. 1 will be battling a field filled with journeymen, up-and-comers and dreamers, each hoping to reach the level he once achieved.

It will be a terrific story if Duval retains his card through Q-School this week – and an even better one if he parlays that into more success down the road.

Ty Tryon


Ty Tryon must be the oldest 27-year-old in golf today.

Ten tough years have passed since he left Q-School at Bear Lakes in West Palm Beach, Fla., as the youngest player ever to win a PGA Tour card.

Once the game’s golden boy, Tryon is now identified as one of its cautionary tales. He’s pointed to as an example of what can happen when too much is heaped upon a player who’s too young to carry the weight of grand expectations.

There’s a problem with that depiction, though. Tryon is not yet 30. He’s still writing chapters to his tale, chapters that could give his story an uplifting finish. That’s why if Tryon emerges with his card come Monday at PGA West, he’s the best story there. If he earns his way back onto the PGA Tour, he keeps alive the hope that all his dreams can still be resurrected. He fuels hope that perseverance and hard work still leads to professional fulfillment.

Tryon’s all grown up now. He’s a husband and father to a 5-year-old. He plays for different reasons than he played for 10 years ago. He plays with a different purpose. He plays with the possibility of a happy ending.

Doug Barron


There is no shortage of feel-good tales to cheer as this year’s final stage of Q-School gets underway on Wednesday in the California desert, but based on pure cosmic justice Doug Barron represents a unique rooting interest.

Two years ago the fortysomething journeyman played a single PGA Tour event, was selected for a “random” performance-enhancing drug test and will forever be the answer to an obscure trivia question as the first, and to date only, Tour player to test positive for PEDs.

Barron – who has a lengthy history of health problems including low testosterone – had requested various “therapeutic-use exemptions” prior to 2009 and had been denied.

That he became the face of “doping” in golf was proof that not all testing programs are created equal. That he now finds himself on the doorstep to regain Tour membership is nothing short of an administrative miracle.

Barron tried to trust the system and it landed him a one-year suspension. He now trusts his attorneys, has been granted a TUE to take testosterone and has the energy, and game, to endure the six-day Q-School marathon.

Doug Barron may not be the sexiest story at this year’s Q-School, but for those with a fondness for cosmic make-goods he’s worth a cheer or two.

Catch live coverage of PGA Tour Q-School finals on Golf Channel: Saturday and Sunday - 4PM ET; Monday - 3:30PM ET

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Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 1:21 am

Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.

Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.

“I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.

“The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”

Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.

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Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:51 am

LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook hit a hybrid into the fairway bunker on the par-4 18th on a breezy Saturday afternoon at La Quinta Country Club, then chunked a wedge and raced a chip 20 feet past the hole.

Kip Henley, the longtime PGA Tour caddie who guided Cook to a breakthrough victory at Sea Island in November, stepped in to give the 26-year-old former Arkansas star a quick pep talk.

''Kip said, 'Let's finish this like we did on the first day at the Nicklaus Course.' We made a big par putt on 18 there and he said, 'Let's just do the same thing. Let's get this line right and if you get the line right it's going in.'''

It did, giving Cook an 8-under 64 and a one-stroke lead in the CareerBuilder Challenge going into the final round on the Stadium Course at PGA West. Fellow former Razorback Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were tied for second, and Jon Rahm and Scott Piercy were a another stroke back after a tricky day in wind that didn't get close to the predicted gusts of 40 mph.

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

''I know that I wouldn't have wanted to play the Stadium today,'' Cook said. ''I think we got a great draw with the courses that we got to play on the days that we got to play them.''

Cook played the final six holes on the front nine in 6 under with an eagle and four birdies.

''Starting on my fourth hole, I was able to make a birdie and kind of get the ball rolling and it never really stopped rolling,'' Cook said. ''Kip and I were doing really good at seeing the line on the greens.''

After a bogey on 10, he birdied 11, 12 and 15 and parred the final three to get to 19-under 197.

''I think that tonight the nerves, the butterflies, all that will kind of be a little less,'' Cook said. ''I've been in the situation before and I was able to finish the job on Sunday. I think it would be a little different if I didn't play like I did on Sunday at Sea Island.''

He's making his first start in the event.

''I came in from Hawaii on Monday, so I only had two days to prepare for three courses,'' Cook said.

Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 at the Stadium. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. Winless on the PGA Tour, they will join Cook in the final threesome.

''Piller's a good guy and we have played a lot together and same with Cookie,'' said Landry, the only player without a bogey after 54 holes. ''Hope the Hogs are going to come out on top.''

Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium to reach 17 under. The third-ranked Rahm beat up the par 5s again, but had four bogeys – three on par 3s. He has played the 12 par 5s in 13 under with an eagle and 11 birdies.

''A little bit of a survival day,'' Rahm said.

The wind was more of a factor on the more exposed and tighter Stadium Course.

''The course is firming up,'' Rahm said. ''I know if we have similar wind to today, if we shoot something under par, you'll be way up there contesting it over the last few holes.''

Piercy had a 66 at the Stadium.

''I controlled my ball really well today,'' he said.

Adam Hadwin had a 67 at La Quinta a year after shooting a third-round 59 on the course. The Canadian was 16 under along with Grayson Murray and Brandon Harkins. Murray had a 67 on the Nicklaus Course, and Harkins shot 68 at the Stadium.

Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his first tournament of the year for the second time in his career, shooting a 74 on the Stadium to finish at 4 under – four strokes from a Sunday tee time. The 47-year-old Hall of Famer was playing for the first time since late October. He also missed the cut in the Phoenix Open in his 2009 opener.

Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on the first sponsor exemption the event has given to an amateur, also missed the cut. He had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over.

John Daly had an 80 at La Quinta. He opened with a triple bogey and had six bogeys – four in a row to start his second nine - and only one birdie. The 51-year-old Daly opened with a 69 on the Nicklaus layout and had a 71 on Friday at the Stadium.

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Phil misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 am

Phil Mickelson missed the cut Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge. It’s a rare occurrence in his Hall of Fame career.

He has played the event 15 times, going back to when it was known as the Bob Hope Classic. He has won it twice.

How rare is his missing the cut there?

The last time he did so, there was no such thing as a DVD, Wi-Fi, iPods, Xbox, DVR capability or YouTube.

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

The PGA Tour’s Jon Rahm didn’t exist, either.

The last time Mickelson missed a cut in this event was 1994, nine months before Rahm was born.

Mickelson struggled to a 2-over-par 74 in the heavy winds Saturday on the PGA West Stadium Course, missing the 54-hole cut by four shots. He hit just four of 14 fairways, just nine of 18 greens. He took a double bogey at the 15th after requiring two shots to escape the steep-walled bunker on the left side of the green.

Mickelson won’t have to wait long to try to get back in the hunt. He’s scheduled to play the Farmers Insurance Open next week at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.

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Defending champ Gana co-leads Latin America Amateur

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 11:20 pm

Toto Gana moved into early position to try to win a return trip to the Masters Saturday by grabbing a share of the first-round lead at the Latin America Amateur Championship.

The defending champ posted a 3-under-par 68 at Prince of Wales Country Club in his native Chile, equaling the rounds of Argentina’s Mark Montenegro and Colombia’s Pablo Torres.

They are one shot ahead of Mexico’s Alvaro Ortiz and Mario Carmona, Argentina’s Horacio Carbonetti and Jaime Lopez Rivarola and the Dominican Republic’s Rhadames Pena.

It’s a bunched leaderboard, with 19 players within three shots of each at the top of the board in the 72-hole event.

“I think I have my game under control,” said Gana, 20, a freshman at Lynn University. “I hit the ball very well, and I also putted very well. So, I am confident about tomorrow.”

The LAAC’s champion will get more than a Masters invitation. He also will be exempt into the The Amateur, the U.S. Amateur and any other USGA event he is eligible to play this year. The champion and players who finish runner-up are also exempt into the final stages of qualifying for The Open and the U.S. Open.

The LAAC was founded by the Masters, the R&A and the USGA, with the purpose of further developing amateur golf in South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean.