Whee Kim leads PGA Tour Q-School at halfway point


LA QUINTA, Calif. – It’s at intermission that professional golf’s longest week begins to resonate in mind and body.

You could see it in the faces of players at the halfway house of this year’s final stage of Q-School, the last Fall Classic with direct access to the PGA Tour that ends on Monday following six exhausting rounds.

“It’s such a mentally draining week it’s important to just pace yourself,” said Robert Karlsson, the two-time European Ryder Cup player who is alone in second place at 17 under, a stroke behind surprise front-runner Meen Whee Kim (65).

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There are 30 players inside the bubble to earn a 2013 Tour card, which currently sits at 10 under par, including Tour winners Heath Slocum (67), Camilo Villegas (66) and Chez Reavie (68).

For all those on the outside, however, the good news is there is still plenty of time to improve their fortunes or, in the case of 17-year-old Si Woo Kim, time for Tour officials to come up with some answers.

Kim, who carded a third-round 71 and is one stroke outside the top 25 at 9 under, doesn’t turn 18 until June 28. Under Tour rules he cannot become a member until after that birthday, which would leave him effectively six starts, not counting majors and World Golf Championships, to keep his card and qualify for the playoffs.

Kim’s manager with Se Ma Sports Entertainment said his client knew of the regulation but decided to try Q-School anyway.

“We did realize it but we are pretty much focused on his game right now,” Joonsoo Lee said. “At this point he’d like to do as best as he can to win this tournament.”

But winning Q-School isn’t as important as surviving the Fall Classic, and after three days in the Coachella Valley, the good and bad news is the event is only halfway over.