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Barranger Raises the Bar in Q-School Finals

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Todd Barranger fired a 10-under-par 62 to lead a host of notable names after the first day of the six-round PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament finals in La Quinta, Calif.
 
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Playing the Private Course at PGA West, Barranger recorded two eagles and six birdies in a 12-hole stretch to lead Tommy Tolles, who played the Tournament Course, by one shot. Ben Ferguson, a mini-tour player in 2000, is in third place after shooting an 8-under-par 64 on the Private Course. Eight players are tied for fourth at 7-under-par, including former PGA Tour winner Frank Nobilo.
 
Barranger played sparingly on the Buy.Com Tour in 2000, earning a pair of top-five finishes in eight starts. It wasn't enough to regain his PGA Tour card, which he first earned in 1994, but it provided him with much needed confidence.
 
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From November 1997 until February of this year, Barranger didn't touch a club. You see, the 32-year-old was battling testicular cancer.
 
Barranger first learned of the disease in 1995. He promptly had the tumor removed, but two years later, the disease struck again.
 
'Since mid-September I have worked harder on my game than I have ever before in my life,' Barranger said. 'All that I have gone through has taught me to be prepared and I am ready for this test in my life.
 
'You're fighting for you job so, of course, there's pressure to it. But you're not fighting for your life.'
 
Interestingly enough, Barranger led after the first round of the 1996 Sarazen World Open, which was eventually won by Nobilo.
 
Since winning his first, and only PGA Tour event at the 1997 Greater Greensboro Chrysler Classic, Nobilo has steadily slipped from contender to notable to also-ran.
 
For the second straight season, the 40-year-old New Zealander finished outside the top 150 on the PGA Tour money list. It was just three years ago that Nobilo qualified for the Tour Championship.
 
Tolles also played in the '97 Tour Championship. Now, like Nobilo, he's fighting for his professional livelihood at Q-School. Tolles finished 180th on the this year's money list, nearly 100 spots lower than that of a year ago.
 
Wednesday, the two-time PGA Tour runner-up made an inspirational run en route back to the big tour. The 34-year-old former Georgia Bulldog carded nine birdies to nary a bogey for his lowest score of the season.
 
Tolles and Nobilo are just a couple of the 169 players vying for their 2001 PGA Tour cards. The top 35 players and ties following Monday's final round will earn their playing privileges for next season.