Q-School timeline: History of golf's most grueling event

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 30, 2012, 8:44 pm

As the final stage of PGA Tour Q-School is contested for the final time this weekend at PGA West, our Golf Channel Research Unit takes a look back at some of the major changes and developments to golf's ultimate test of endurance:

1965: The PGA of America creates the Tournament Training and Qualifying Program to improve the quality of players earning status into tournaments. Staged across 11 days, the program featured 144 holes of golf in addition to a written test and lectures on how to be responsible golfers. Of the 49 participants in 1965, 17 earned their Approved Tournament Player status, including Jim Colbert.

Spring 1968: In an effort to provide players more opportunities to qualify, the PGA of America begins holding Q-School in both the spring and the fall. Graduates from the Spring 1968 session include Hale Irwin.

Fall 1968: After forming as a splinter group and holding its own alternative Q-School in the fall of 1968, the Tournament Players Division officially separates from the PGA of America. Led by former U.S. Golf Association executive director Joe Dey, the TPD would serve as a precursor for the PGA Tour. 

1969: Officially independent from the PGA of America, the Tournament Players Division continues to hold two Q-School sessions, but reduces them both from 144 to 72 holes. Notable qualifiers in the Spring 1969 session include Johnny Miller.

1970: After two years, the concept of two Q-Schools per year is abandoned, while pre-qualifiers are introduced for the first time. Nine 54-hole qualifiers help reduce a pool of 250 applicants to 60 players who participate in Q-School Finals, of which 18 earn their PGA Tour cards – including Hubert Green and Jim Dent.

1971: The format for Q-School is again altered, with three 72-hole qualifiers taking the place of nine 54-hole events that had been previously held. The finals were also extended to 108 holes for the first time. The 1971 class was perhaps the greatest in the event's history, with major champions Tom Watson, Lanny Wadkins, John Mahaffey and David Graham among the 23 graduates.

1973: Q-School is extended to 144 holes across two different sites 500 miles apart. Participants played four rounds in Pensacola, Fla., followed by four rounds in Myrtle Beach, S.C., as organizers sought to replicate the experience of traveling from place to place as part of the qualification process. Larry Nelson, Gil Morgan and Gary McCord join medalist Ben Crenshaw on the PGA Tour the following year.

1975: The Tournament Players Division is officially renamed the PGA Tour, and the format of Q-School is once again amended. The tournament is reduced from 144 to 108 holes, held in both spring and fall, while qualifiers are eliminated. Graduates include Gary Koch, Andy Bean and Jerry Pate, who would win the U.S. Open the following year.

1977: Regional qualifiers are re-introduced before the Fall 1977 Q-School, with the finals reduced from 108 to 72 holes. Curtis Strange headlines the group that receives their cards in the spring session.

1982: The Tour returns to a format that is still in place today, opting for only one annual Q-School and increasing its duration from 72 to 108 holes. While previous graduates simply earned the right to compete in Monday qualifiers, players now would receive 'all-exempt' status on the PGA Tour, making them full members upon graduation. Notable graduates include future major champions Nick Price, Jeff Sluman and Tom Lehman.

1984: Half of the PGA Championships between 1986 and 1993 are won by 1984 Q-School graduates, as Bob Tway (1986), Jeff Sluman (1988), Wayne Grady (1990) and Paul Azinger (1993) all earn playing privileges in the fall of 1984.

1986: The PGA Tour adds another stage of qualifiers, making Q-School a three-step process. A group of 53 players earning their cards includes major winners Steve Elkington and Steve Jones, who earned medalist honors.

1990: This marks the first year in which Q-School would not be the exclusive path to the PGA Tour. With the advent of the Ben Hogan (now Web.com) Tour, the number of cards available at Q-School was reduced from 50 to 45 (inclusive of ties), with the top five players on the Hogan Tour also earning cards. Q-School graduates include John Daly, who would win the PGA Championship the following year, while the Hogan Tour money list is topped by Jeff Maggert.

1992: The distribution of playing privileges for the following year is again adjusted, with cards awarded to the top 10 on the Hogan Tour while only the top 40 and ties would survive Q-School.

1994: The total number of Q-School applicants hits 1,000 for the first time, as Woody Austin earns medalist honors. Austin would be named rookie of the year on the PGA Tour the following year.

1997: A cut after 72 holes is abandoned, meaning all participants in the final stage of Q-School would play 108 holes. The Nike (formerly Hogan) Tour is now allocated 15 cards for its top finishers, while the top 35 and ties at Q-School earn playing privileges for the following year. 

2001: At age 17, Ty Tryon becomes the youngest person to ever advance through the final stage of Q-School. After earning his card for 2002, Tryon has to wait until turning 18 before competing as a full member as part of a rule adopted by the PGA Tour in September 2001 in response to Tryon and Kevin Na both turning professional at the age of 17. Other notable Q-School graduates included Luke Donald and Shaun Micheel.

2003: The newly named Nationwide (formerly Nike) Tour begins awarding cards to its top 20 finishers, leaving cards for only the top 30 and ties at Q-School. Graduates include Hunter Mahan and Todd Hamilton, who would win the British Open the following summer.

2006: An additional pre-qualifying stage is created, meaning for some Q-School becomes a four-step process.

2007: The Nationwide Tour begins offering cards to its top 25 finishers, reducing the allotment for Q-School to the top 25 finishers and ties. Graduates include Tommy Gainey, Dustin Johnson and future PGA champion Y.E. Yang.

2012: The PGA Tour announces a new wrap-around schedule for the 2013-2014 season, effectively ending Q-School as a means of direct entry to the PGA Tour.

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The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

“What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

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Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation. 

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Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

“I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).

Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129. 

The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.

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Landry stays hot, leads desert shootout at CareerBuilder

By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 12:35 am

LA QUINTA, Calif. – Andrew Landry topped the crowded CareerBuilder Challenge leaderboard after another low-scoring day in the sunny Coachella Valley.

Landry shot a 7-under 65 on Thursday on PGA West's Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course to reach 16 under. He opened with a 63 on Thursday at La Quinta Country Club.

''Wind was down again,'' Landry said. ''It's like a dome out here.''

Jon Rahm, the first-round leader after a 62 at La Quinta, was a stroke back. He had two early bogeys in a 67 on the Nicklaus layout.

''It's tough to come back because I feel like I expected myself to go to the range and keep just flushing everything like I did yesterday,'' Rahm said. ''Everything was just a little bit off.''

Jason Kokrak was 14 under after a 67 at Nicklaus. Two-time major champion Zach Johnson was 13 under along with Michael Kim and Martin Piller. Johnson had a 64 at Nicklaus.

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

Landry, Rahm, Kokrak and Johnson will finish the rotation Saturday at PGA West's Stadium Course, also the site of the final round.

''You need to hit it a lot more accurate off the tee because being in the fairway is a lot more important,'' Rahm said about the Pete Dye-designed Stadium Course, a layout the former Arizona State player likened to the Dye-designed Karsten course on the school's campus. ''With the small greens, you have water in play. You need to be more precise. Clearly the hardest golf course.''

Landry pointed to the Saturday forecast.

''I think the wind's supposed to be up like 10 to 20 mph or something, so I know that golf course can get a little mean,'' Landry said. ''Especially, those last three or four holes.''

The 30-year-old former Arkansas player had five birdies in a six-hole stretch on the back nine. After winning his second Web.com Tour title last year, he had two top-10 finishes in October and November at the start the PGA Tour season.

''We're in a good spot right now,'' Landry said. ''I played two good rounds of golf, bogey-free both times, and it's just nice to be able to hit a lot of good quality shots and get rewarded when you're making good putts.''

Rahm had four birdies and the two bogeys on his first six holes. He short-sided himself in the left bunker on the par-3 12th for his first bogey of the week and three-putted the par-4 14th – pulling a 3-footer and loudly asking ''What?'' – to drop another stroke.

''A couple of those bad swings cost me,'' Rahm said.

The top-ranked player in the field at No. 3 in the world, Rahm made his first par of the day on the par-4 16th and followed with five more before birdieing the par-5 fourth. The 23-year-old Spaniard also birdied the par-5 seventh and par-3 eighth.

''I had close birdie putts over the last four holes and made two of them, so I think that kind of clicked,'' said Rahm, set to defend his title next week at Torrey Pines.

He has played the par 5s in 9 under with an eagle and seven birdies.

Johnson has taken a relaxed approach to the week, cutting his practice to two nine-hole rounds on the Stadium Course.

''I'm not saying that's why I'm playing well, but I took it really chill and the golf courses haven't changed,'' Johnson said. ''La Quinta's still really pure, right out in front of you, as is the Nicklaus.''

Playing partner Phil Mickelson followed his opening 70 at La Quinta with a 68 at Nicklaus to get to 6 under. The 47-year-old Hall of Famer is playing his first tournament of since late October.

''The scores obviously aren't what I want, but it's pretty close and I feel good about my game,'' Mickelson said. ''I feel like this is a great place to start the year and build a foundation for my game. It's easy to identify the strengths and weaknesses. My iron play has been poor relative to the standards that I have. My driving has been above average.''

Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on a sponsor exemption, had a 70 at Nicklaus to match Mickelson at 6 under. The Southern California recruit is playing his first PGA Tour event. He tied for 65th in the Australian Open in November in his first start in a professional tournament.