LA QUINTA, Calif. – The headline “Journeyman pulls away at Q-School” is the journalistic equivalent to “Dog bites man.”
The Fall Classic is the domain of the dogged and tireless where perseverance is often more of an asset than a strong short game or atomic driver, but by any definition Edward Loar takes the stereotype to the extreme.
Since his days as a world-beater-in-waiting as an amateur in Texas, Loar has spent more time plying his trade in Asia than the United States having played five full seasons on the Asian Tour before earning his first trip to the PGA Tour at last year’s Q-School.
It’s little surprise then that Loar is at it again, scorching the Stadium Course at PGA West with an opening 7-under 65 that left him one stroke off the lead held by Steve LeBrun after Day 1 at the final Q-School with direct access to the Tour.
While some may have viewed his half decade in Asia as professional exile, Loar used his time in the Far East to learn.
“It helped him figure out how to win,” said Loar’s manager Rocky Hambric with Hambric Sports Management. “He was a can’t-miss kind of guy and he did miss but he had the guts to go to Asia and play well.”
Surprisingly both Loar and LeBrun played the Stadium course, considered the more difficult of the two desert layouts used for final stage. In fact, six of the top eight players on Wednesday’s leaderboard played the Stadium, with the most glaring exception being Robert Karlsson, who carded a 6-under 66 on the Nicklaus Tournament layout and is tied for sixth.
“The golf courses are so different and it was a nice friendly day for scoring. It was nice not to have any bogeys, so pretty easy,” Karlsson said. “There are so many rounds you just have to take it easy.”
Pacing one’s self is crucial at the six-day event which will reward 2013 Tour cards to the top 25 players and ties after Monday’s closing round. Nobody knows that better than Erik Compton, the two-time heart transplant recipient who is playing in his third final stage.
“For me the important thing is just getting rest,” said Compton, one of 11 players tied for ninth at 5 under, following his round on the Stadium Course. “I’m as strong as I’ve ever been, fully recovered and I’m not as fatigued as I’ve been in the past.”
Like Loar has learned over a well-traveled career, it’s often perseverance, not play, that decides who succeeds in professional golf.