Five Q-School graduates to watch in 2014


Q-School no longer awards PGA Tour cards, but lives were still changed Tuesday in California.

Though only medalist Zack Fischer will be fully exempt for the 2014 season, every player who teed it up for six rounds at PGA West is guaranteed some status on the Tour next year. Nos. 2-10 are exempt until the third reshuffle (which occurs after the 12th event), while Nos. 11-45 (ties) are exempt until the second reshuffle (after eighth event).

Here are five graduates you’ll want to keep an eye on in 2014:

• Scott Pinckney (2nd): Shot all six rounds at 68 or better, sending the 24-year-old to the Tour for the first time. In limited action in 2013, the former Arizona State All-American missed five cuts in seven starts. After turning pro in 2011, he apprenticed on the European and Challenge tours. 

• Max Homa (T-6): A closing 66 put the 2013 NCAA Player of the Year (Cal) in the top 10 and secured better status for next year. After representing the U.S. at the Walker Cup, he turned pro and tied for ninth in his first pro start at the Open, then posted a T-30 at the Vegas Tour stop.

• Nick Taylor (T-11): The former No. 1-ranked amateur in the world finally has his Tour card, more than three years after turning pro after a decorated career at the University of Washington that saw him earn the Ben Hogan Award as the best player in college golf. Taylor spent 2013 on PGA Tour Canada, where he placed seventh on the Order of Merit and finished in the top 10 in five of his last nine starts. 

Blayne Barber (T-22): The former Auburn All-American redeemed himself at Tour Q-School, a year after he disqualified himself for signing an incorrect scorecard. As a result of that DQ, he was able to make only seven starts on the developmental circuit in 2013, but the T-2 at the News Sentinel Open put him in good position to earn status. 

• Justin Thomas (T-32): Appeared like he would bomb out at Q-School after a third-round 78, but he rebounded to play the final three rounds in 16 under par, including 66-65 on the final two days. The 2012 NCAA Player of the Year (beat out Jordan Spieth for the award) turned pro after the Walker Cup after only two years at NCAA champion Alabama.

Notables who didn’t finish inside the all-important top 45 and ties: 

• Jeff Klauk (T-50): A year after undergoing brain surgery, the 36-year-old made 19 starts on the Tour, finishing in the top 25 only twice. 

• Michael Kim (T-56): The junior at Cal was in prime position to earn good status on the circuit, but he closed 74-75 and soon will have to decide whether to turn pro or head back to school. None of the three amateurs (BYU’s Zac Blair, USC’s Anthony Paolucci) finished inside the top 50.

• Steven Fox (T-88): The 2012 U.S. Amateur champion faded after an opening 69 and failed to shoot a sub-70 score the final five days. Fox missed his first nine cuts on the PGA Tour (including the first three majors) before a T-11 at the Puerto Rico Classic.

Todd Hamilton (T-95): The former British Open winner has fallen on hard times recently, and his opening 73-75 at Q-School didn’t help. In 14 Tour starts in 2013, he made only five cuts with one top 25.