Canadian Winter Q-School Kicks Off
A total of 52 golfers representing six countries are slated to tee it up at Black Bear GC hoping to earn Canadian Tour playing privileges for the coming season. Action gets underway Tuesday at the 7,000 yard, par-72 layout with exempt cards being awarded to the top seven players following Fridays final round. The next seven finishers, plus ties, will have non-exempt status for 2005.
Once the Florida school has wrapped up, the Tour will move west for a second Q-School at Los Serranos G&CC in Chino Hills, Calif. from March 1-4. The Canadian Tour lifts the curtain on the 2005 season March 12-15 with the Barton Creek Austin Pro-Am Classic presented by Yes! Golf.
American-born players make up the majority of the starting field for the Florida school, with 39 hopefuls coming from the United States. Nine Canadians will make the trip to Black Bear, with Mexico, New Zealand, Japan and the Cayman Islands being represented by one player each.
Headlining an impressive field dotted with former collegiate and state champions is Casey Wittenberg of Memphis, Tenn. Wittenberg gained worldwide attention last spring with a 13th-place finish at The Masters, the best showing by an amateur in 41 years. His magical week at Augusta included a Sunday afternoon back-nine 31, the lowest back nine total in history by an amateur. The 2003 U.S. Amateur Runner-Up joins Tiger Woods as the only two players to be ranked the top amateur in the United States prior to starting college. Wittenberg would also garner NCAA All-American honours at Oklahoma State University, represent the U.S. at the Walker Cup and capture the Porter Cup with a record 14-under 266 score. The 20-year-old also had strong showings last year at the Bell Canadian Open (T24) and the U.S. Open (T36).
With the National Hockey League season being put on ice last week, Marc Savard of the Atlanta Thrashers will attract plenty of attention as he looks to join the Canadian Tour ranks. Drafted by the N.Y. Rangers in 1995, Savard, who hails from Ottawa, also spent time with the Calgary Flames before joining the Thrashers in 2002.
Former Tour members Mac McLeod (Winnipeg, Man.) and Michael Hospodar (Brantford, Ont.) will also be among the Canadians to watch.
Since the Canadian Tour began staging winter qualifying schools back in 2001, many graduates have gone on to make an immediate impact on Tour. Both Eamonn Brady (2001) and Anders Hultman (2003) won their initial Tour starts just hours after receiving their playing cards. In 2002, Hank Kuehne, Jeff Quinney and Jimmy Walker won the second, third and fourth events of the season after earning playing privileges in Orlando, Fla. That season, six players from the 02 winter school would combine to win eight titles in their rookie seasons while two players from that class have won two of the past three Canadian Tour money crowns (Kuehne in 2002 and Erik Compton last year).
Several players from Winter Q-Schools have also moved on to the PGA Tour in the past three seasons, among them Kuehne, Walker, James Driscoll, Jess Daley, Will Mackenzie and Jason Allred.
Paul Casey, who recently helped England to the WGC World Cup title and is a member of the European Ryder Cup squad, joined the Canadian Tour in the winter of 2001.
Round 1 - Tuesday, February 22nd
Black Bear GC, Eustis, Florida
Parker, Adrian Brookhaven, MS
Snelling, Justin Boise, ID
Davis, Brien Las Vegas, NV
Hibler, Jesse Boise, ID
Sahl, Danny Sherwood Park, AB
Deschaine, Matt Bay Minette, AL
Guetz, Bret Scottsdale, AZ
Heinen, Eddie Las Vegas, NV
Horowitz, Joe Long Beach, NY
Ibarreche, Juan Pablo Mexico
McNeil, Scott Calgary, AB
Heinz, Jerry Poway, CA
Park, Pedro New Zealand
Kennedy, Robert Phoenix, AZ
Sitterley, Rob Orlando, FL
Savard, Marc Duluth, GA
Sherriff, Justin London, ON
Meierling, Jan ChampionsGate, FL
Kilduff, Lynn Dallas, TX
Berger, Kelly Wausau, WS
Yopchick, Scott Chicago, IL
Williams, JJ Palm Beach Gardens, FL
Humphries, John Baton Rouge, LA
Johnson, Dan O'Fallon, IL
Cook, Dan Charleston, SC
Hogg, Ian St. Davids, ON
Hospodar, Michael Brantford, ON
Brown, Michael Cheltenham, PA
Hoenig, Ron Hobe Sound, FL
McLeod, Mac Winnipeg, MB
Seki, Jim Palo Alto, CA
Lydiatt, Chad Omaha, NE
Wittenberg, Casey Memphis, TN
Collins, Glenn Winnipeg, MB
Mulder, Brock Dallas, TX
Yarvi, Matt Orlando, FL
Johnstone, Evan Orinda, CA
McNally. Michael Billings, MT
Zihala, Billy Little Rock, AR
Martin, Greg Austin, TX
Ferlic, Gavin South Bend, IN
Kings, Ryan Kitchener, ON
Tripp, Shane Orlando, FL
Smith, Jesse Barrington, NH
Ryan, Jeffery Key West, FL
Noble, Scott Cartersville, GA
Dickinson, Billy Haines City, FL
Cureton, Chris McKinney, TX
Makino, Yuji Japan
Petrie, Michael Inverary, ON
Totten, Jordan Cayman Islands
Peterson, Brett Mesa, AZ
Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake
Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.
While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.
“I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.
Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.<
DJ shoots 64 to surge up leaderboard in Abu Dhabi
Dustin Johnson stood out among a star-studded three-ball that combined to shoot 18 under par with just one bogey Friday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.
Shaking off a sloppy first round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Johnson matched the low round of the day with a 64 that put him within four shots of Thomas Pieters’ lead.
“I did everything really well,” Johnson said. “It was a pretty easy 64.”
Johnson made four bogeys during an even-par 72 on Thursday and needed a solid round Friday to make the cut. Before long, he was closer to the lead than the cut line, making birdie on three of the last four holes and setting the pace in a group that also included good rounds from Rory McIlroy (66) and Tommy Fleetwood (68).
“Everyone was hitting good shots,” McIlroy said. “That’s all we were seeing, and it’s nice when you play in a group like that. You feed off one another.”
Coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, Johnson is searching for his first regular European Tour title. He tied for second at this event a year ago.
Johnson’s second-round 64 equaled the low round of the day (Jorge Campillo and Branden Grace).
“It was just really solid all day long,” Johnson said. “Hit a lot of great shots, had a lot of looks at birdies, which is what I need to do over the next two days if I want to have a chance to win on Sunday.”
Closing eagle moves Rory within 3 in Abu Dhabi
What rust? Rory McIlroy appears to be in midseason form.
Playing competitively for the first time since Oct. 8, McIlroy completed 36 holes without a bogey Friday, closing with an eagle to shoot 6-under 66 to sit just three shots back at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.
“I’m right in the mix after two days and I’m really happy in that position,” he told reporters afterward.
McIlroy took a 3 ½-month break to heal his body, clear his mind and work on his game after his first winless year since 2008, his first full season as a pro.
He's back on track at a familiar playground, Abu Dhabi Golf Club, where he’s racked up eight top-11s (including six top-3s) in his past nine starts there.
McIlroy opened with a 69 Thursday, then gave himself even more chances on Day 2, cruising along at 4 under for the day when he reached the par-5 closing hole. After launching a 249-yard long iron to 25 feet, he poured in the eagle putt to pull within three shots of Thomas Pieters (65).
Despite the layoff, McIlroy edged world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, by a shot over the first two rounds.
“DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now, and one of, if not the best, driver of the golf ball," McIlroy said. "To be up there with him over these first two days, it proves to me that I’m doing the right things and gives me a lot of confidence going forward.”
Duke to fill in for injured Pavin at CareerBuilder
Ken Duke will fill in for Corey Pavin for the next two rounds of the CareerBuilder Challenge – with nothing at stake but his amateur partner’s position on the leaderboard.
Pavin was 4 over par when he withdrew after 17 holes Thursday because of a neck injury. Tournament officials contacted Duke, the first alternate, and asked if he would take Pavin’s spot and partner with Luis Lopez for the next two rounds, even though he would not receive any official money.
Duke accepted and explained his decision on Twitter:
Filling in tomorrow for Corey Pavin that WD today @cbgolfchallenge I do things like this a lot to help events and asking for sponsors exemptions here but didn't get any help.— Ken Duke (@DukePGA) January 18, 2018
Playing on past champion’s status, the 48-year-old Duke has made only four starts this season, with a best finish of a tie for 61st at the RSM Classic.
Pavin received a sponsor exemption into the event, his first PGA Tour start since the 2015 Colonial.