For a few hours Monday, Steven Bowditch reminded observers that there is no pressure quite like the final day of PGA Tour Q-School.
The leader after five days and 90 holes, Bowditch played his first six holes on the Stadium Course at PGA West in 4 over, plummeting out of the lead and, most critically, near the projected cut line.
“It did cross my mind,” Bowditch told Golf Channel afterward. “I really didn’t want to be a Q-School victim.”
No worries. The Australian recovered to shoot 74 and earn his 2013 Tour card, but he was just one of several players who danced around the cut line Monday during the last round of Q-School under its traditional format.
Indeed, this year’s edition, per usual, was equal parts ecstasy and exasperation.
Another player to lock up his Tour card: Si Woo Kim, who at 17 years, 5 months and 6 days became the youngest player to earn a PGA Tour card through Q-School. (The record previously was held by Ty Tryon (2001), who was one month older than Kim.)
The rub here: Kim, who advanced through pre-qualifying, won’t be able to take up Tour membership until June 28, 2013, when he turns 18. (There is an abbreviated schedule in ’13, remember, with the FedEx Cup playoffs beginning in August.) In the meantime, he can play as many as 12 events as a non-member with a combination of sponsor exemptions, special invites and top 10s.
Among the other notables who finished inside the cut line (low 25 and ties), which fell at 17-under 415: two-time heart-transplant recipient Erik Compton, 11-time European Tour winner Robert Karlsson, former NCAA champion Scott Langley and Monday-qualifying maven Patrick Reed.
“Being able to do this, the six rounds this week, with my health, you can’t write anything better than that,” Compton said. “I proved a lot to myself.”
A sampling of those who will be without a PGA Tour card in 2013: Camilo Villegas, Heath Slocum, Derek Lamely, Rod Pampling, Vaughn Taylor, Arjun Awtal, Len Mattiace, Patrick Cantlay and Tom Pernice Jr. (shot final-round 79 to move outside cut line).
Perhaps the most heartbreaking story? Edward Loar. Having began the final round in a tie for third, he came to the par-3 17th inside the cut line, but rinsed his tee shot and carded a double bogey. He also found the water on 18 and bogeyed the hole, finishing two shots off the number.
“I tried hard,” Loar told Golf Channel’s Curt Byrum. “We all know how cruel the game is. Hopefully I can learn from it. I persevered for 13 years, so hopefully this won’t set me back too much.”
This, of course, is the last year that Q-School will provide direct access to the PGA Tour. Beginning next season, the top 25 will earn Web.com Tour cards.