Lessons Learned at Q-School

By Jerry FoltzDecember 9, 2003, 5:00 pm
Oftentimes when covering golf, hyperbole finds its way into the descriptions and characterizations of the events that unfold. Excuse the pun, but at the PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament finals, nothing could be further from the truth.
 
Danny Briggs equated the pressure to the feeling a person gets when he sees a police officer just as he realizes hes making up his own speed limit. On Sunday, Briggs also said that his hands were visibly shaking over his final putt'a two-footer to earn a PGA Tour card.
 
Twenty-year-old Kevin Na said, Ive never been so nervous. And David Branshaw, albeit for far greater reasons than earning a card, said, This morning I was scared.
 
With all due respect to Tiger and Ernie, the thought of letting down 11 teammates cant even coat the bottom of the kettle of the pressure cooker that is Q-School. Other than a little bruising of the ego, the two greatest players in world could probably survive a missed putt at the Presidents Cup. At Q-School, one missed putt could make the difference in earning a nice living, or going back to work in the cart barn at the local golf course.
 
Ted Potter, Jr., the aforementioned part-time cart-room attendant, faltered in the final two rounds, but still qualified for exempt status on the Nationwide Tour. Next year hell celebrate his 21st birthday during his rookie season.
 
At two months older than Potter, the second youngest player in the field, Kevin Na, held on for a final-round 72 for a 21st-place finish. Hell be the youngest rookie on the PGA Tour since Ty Tryon, but he has far more experience. With his ability, chances are that Kevin Na may never again have to send along the $4,000 entry fee to endure six December days of agony.
 
When the dust finally settled after 108 difficult holes of golf played at a snails pace, 34 players improved their lot in life significantly, the next 47 players earned all-exempt Nationwide Tour status, and 90 others will filter through the Orlando International Airport on Tuesday with disappointment in their eyes. Another note to Tiger and Ernie: these guys wont be at the private terminal.
 
Seven men played their way into the top 30 in round six, and three unfortunate souls played their way out. However, those three players arent exactly going to the soup kitchen for next years Thanksgiving.
 
Olin Browne fired a final round 77 to miss regaining his all-exempt status on the PGA Tour, but after finishing 130th on the 2003 money list, Olin will still get into about 20 tournaments next season.
 
Kenichi Kuboya missed short putts all over the final nine, but his success in Japan will more than pay the bills next year. The hard part for him might just be in wondering if hell ever again get this close to golfs grandest stage. As Q-School bears out each year, its not that easy.
 
And Donald Roland Trahan Jr. (D.J.), will play one, and most likely only one, season on The Nationwide Tour. At 10 days shy of 23 years old, D.J. handled the disappointment with the poise of a veteran. He knows that at this point in his young career, a year on the Nationwide Tour will probably serve him well in the long run as hell be better prepared to succeed at the next level.
 
As far as the guys who played their way in on the final day, none were more impressive than Omar Uresti.
 
Uresti was on cruise control after a third-round 63. He looked to be assured of a return trip to the land of six-figure endorsements, courtesy cars, and five-star complimentary lunch buffets. Then a fourth-round 79 followed by a 73, and Omar was reeling with thoughts of opportunity lost. Then, when it mattered most, when all the chips were on the line, when all the ducks were on the pond, when his back was situated firmly against the proverbial wall (choose your clich), Omar summoned all available courage and crafted a masterful final-round 64 on the more difficult of the two courses at Orange County National.
 
Now Omar will be heading back to the PGA Tour, albeit with a new caddie in tow. His wife Anita, who shouldered the bag for most of the year, was fired by joint marital decision; however, she still retains the same percentage agreement. According to Omar, Its about 90 percent.
 
As compelling as the stories were at this years Q-School, nothing compared to the plight of David Branshaw.
 
Since learning of his closest friends lost battle against leukemia after the second round, David couldnt stomach the thought of even teeing it up the rest of the week. Each day, on each hole, and before every shot, David contemplated withdrawing from the tournament in order to fly to Henderson, Ky., to be with Jace Buggs wife Misty and family. Of course it was Davids friends, his family, and most importantly Misty herself, that talked him out of it. Misty continued to reaffirm Jaces wishes for David. Even though Jace was gone, his words, his hopes, and his prayers were answered when David birdied the last for a final-round 68, a fourth-place finish, and a one-way trip to the PGA Tour.
 
Eight hundred people were in attendance at Jace Buggs services that were held at the same time David was battling his emotions during the final-round. And every one of them, as well as the countless others that Jaces remarkable life touched in his short time on earth, inspired David with their collective will in hopes that David could pay tribute to his buddy in the most appropriate fashion either one of them could ever know'to get to the PGA Tour.
 
David Branshaw has worn a lady bug pendant on his hat since Jaces original diagnosis just over a year ago. And according to David, Im taking Jace with me next year to the PGA Tour'every step of the way. As late as the morning of the sixth round David needed to be reminded by Misty and Jaces family that Jaces spirit wouldnt be present for his own funeral. Hes going to be with you tomorrow instead, Misty told David.
 
In all the years they shared together on the Canadian Tour and the Nationwide Tour, David and Jace were never paired together in a tournament round. Next year, on the PGA Tour, the place where both of their professional dreams have always resided, David Branshaw and Jace Bugg will be paired together every round'every step of the way.
 
Email your thoughts to Jerry Foltz

Day (68) just one back at Australian Open

By Nick MentaNovember 24, 2017, 6:40 am

Jason Day posted a second-round 68 to move himself just one off the lead held by Lucas Herbert through two rounds at the Emirates Australian Open. Here’s where things stand after 36 holes in Sydney.

Leaderboard: Herbert (-9), Day (-8), Cameron Davis (-7), Anthony Quayle (-6), Matt Jones (-4), Cameron Smith (-4), Nick Cullen (-4), Richard Green (-4)

What it means: Day is in search of his first worldwide victory of 2017. The former world No. 1 last visited the winner’s circle in May 2016, when he won The Players at TPC Sawgrass. A win this week would close out a difficult year for the Aussie who struggled with his game while also helping his mother in her battle with cancer. Day’s last victory on his native soil came in 2013, when he partnered with Adam Scott to win the World Cup of Golf for Australia at Royal Melbourne.


Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


Round of the day: Herbert followed an opening 67 with a round of 66 to vault himself into the lead at The Australian Golf Club. He made six birdies, including four on his second nine, against a lone bogey to take the outright lead. The 22-year-old, who held the lead at this event last year and captured low-amateur honors in 2014, is coming off a runner-up finish at the NSW Open Championship, which boosted him from 714th to 429th in the Official World Golf Ranking. His 5-under score was matched by Dale Brandt-Richards and Josh Cabban.

Best of the rest: Matt Jones, who won this event over Jordan Spieth and Adam Scott two years ago, turned in 4-under 67. Jones is best known to American audiences for his playoff victory at the 2014 Shell Houston Open and for holding the 36-hole lead at the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, which was eventually won by Day. Jones will start the weekend five shots off the lead, at 4 under par.

Biggest disappointment: Spieth has a lot of work to do this weekend if he expects to be in the title picture for the fourth year in a row. Rounds of 70-71 have him eight shots behind the lead held by Herbert. Spieth made a birdie and a bogey on each side Friday to turn in level par. The reigning champion golfer of the year has finished first, second and first at this event over the last three years.

Storyline to watch this weekend: The Australian Open is the first event of the 2018 Open Qualifying Series. The leading three players who finish in the top 10 and who are not otherwise exempt will receive invites into next summer’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.

Ogilvy urges distance rollback of ball

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 8:49 pm

Add Geoff Ogilvy to the chorus of voices calling for a distance rollback of the golf ball.

In an interview before the start of the Emirates Australian Open, Ogilvy said a "time-out" is needed for governing bodies to deal with the issue.

"It's complete nonsense," he said, according to an Australian website. "In my career, it’s gone from 300 yards was a massive hit to you’re a shorter hitter on tour now, legitimately short. It’s changed the way we play great golf courses and that is the crime. It isn’t that the ball goes 400, that’s neither here nor there. It’s the fact the ball going 400 doesn’t makes Augusta work properly, it functions completely wrong.’’


Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


Ogilvy used an example from American baseball to help get his point across to an Australian audience.

“Major League Baseball in America, they use wooden bats, and everywhere else in baseball they use aluminium bats,’’ he said. “And when the major leaguers use aluminium bats they don’t even have to touch it and it completely destroys their stadiums. It’s just comedy.

“That’s kind of what’s happened to us at least with the drivers of these big hitters; We’ve completely outgrown the stadiums. So do you rebuild every stadium in the world? That’s expensive. Or make the ball go shorter? It seems relatively simple from that perspective.’’

Ogilvy, an Australian who won the 2006 U.S. Open, said he believes there will be a rollback, but admitted it would be a "challenge" for manufacturers to produce a ball that flies shorter for pros but does not lose distance when struck by recreational players.

The golf world celebrates Thanksgiving

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 6:01 pm

Here's a look, through social media, at how the golf world celebrates Thanksgiving.

Lexi Thompson:

Baking time!!

A post shared by Lexi Thompson (@lexi) on

David Feherty:

Jack Nicklaus:

GC Tiger Tracker:

Steve Stricker:

Golf Channel:

Frank Nobilo:

Ian Poulter:

Tyrone Van Aswegen:

Happy Thanksgiving: Biggest turkeys of 2017

By Grill Room TeamNovember 23, 2017, 3:00 pm

Thanksgiving brings us golf's biggest turkeys of the year. Donald Trump, Grayson Murray and a certain (now-former) tournament director headline the list. Click here or on the image below to check out all the turkeys.