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Q-School memories: Three-putting from 3 feet

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Editor's note: This edition of Q-School Memories is submitted by Golf Channel analyst Charlie Rymer.

I’ve spent so much time trying to forget it that I can’t even remember the year of my final Q-School. It was sometime in the late ’90s. Look it up if you want. I’m not going to.

Here was the scenario: I stepped up on the 10th tee the final day of Q-School finals. It seems like I had just gone double bogey/bogey on the eighth and ninth for even par on the front. I was in an outstanding mood. I knew I had to shoot 5 or 6 under on the last nine holes to keep my PGA Tour card. 

There were two mitigating circumstances. One, it wasn’t as if I was playing my best golf. I had missed something like 11 of my last 12 cuts and that was why I was at the Q-School anyway. And two, my four-months-pregnant wife and 13-month-old son had been following me around most of the week. Oh, my wife looked cute pushing that baby buggy around, but all I could think about when I glanced over was the price of diapers and college. If her intention was to motivate me, it was certainly working. 


Full coverage: PGA Tour Q-School final stage


The back nine started slowly with a par. Then things started to change. I hopped on the birdie train with three in a row. Then back to reality: a three-putt from 3 feet for bogey. Just in case you weren’t paying attention, let’s go over that again: a three-putt from 3 feet for bogey. And that’s the hole that haunts me the most in my professional career. I was above the hole, putting down grain on Bermuda grass. I hit a decent putt that caught an edge and went for the power spin, going 4 feet past. Then I had it back up the hill into the grain. I hit another decent putt that hopped and then horseshoed. 

To this day that little putt remains seared into my feeble brain and is the source of many a nightmare. It would prove to be crucial because I birdied the next three holes, including a pitch-in at the 17th. I was operating under the assumption that I had to birdie 18 to finish “on the number.” I drove it poorly and didn’t give myself a shot at the birdie. I ended up making a 20-footer for par. 

In the last eight holes I made six birdies and that three-putt bogey. In those days, scoring was manual and there was no way to know exactly who was in and who was out. Play was finishing on two different courses. It took a couple of hours to learn that I had missed by a shot. Following that discovery was a pleasant 7-hour drive home with my pregnant wife and infant son. I never entered Q-School again, and to be honest, if it weren’t required for my job now, I wouldn’t even watch.