Cureton Takes Control at Q-School


Canadian Tour-LargeEUSTIS, Fla. -- Its probably a safe bet that Texan Chris Cureton remembered to bring an alarm clock with him this week to the Canadian Tours Winter Qualifying School. After what happened to him last September, the 25-year-old is probably afraid to fall asleep.
Cureton carded a third-round 69 in windy conditions Thursday and is the overall leader at Black Bear GC with a 54-hole total of 8-under 208. Calgarian Scott McNeil came in with a 70 and is just one shot back.
Glenn Collins is alone in third at minus-4 while U.S. amateur standout Casey Wittenberg sits three shots in the red.
Danny Sahl of Edmonton, who began the day just one stroke off the lead, struggled to a 77 Thursday and is at even-par 216.
Marc Savard, an Ottawa native and a member of the Atlanta Thrashers, struggled for the third day in a row. The fourth-round draft pick of the NY Rangers in 1995, who has a 1.2 handicap and practices regularly with PGA Tour champion Stewart Cink, carded a third-round 78 and has a three-day score of 19-over (78-79-78).
Once Fridays final round has been completed, the Canadian Tour will award exempt playing cards for the 2005 season to the low seven finishers with an additional seven players, plus ties, earning non-exempt status.
Wittenberg, the only player in history besides Tiger Woods to be ranked the number-one amateur in the United States prior to starting college, posted a third-round 2-over 74 Thursday but is still in an ideal spot with just one day remaining before the Canadian Tour dishes out playing cards for 2005.
It would seem that Curetons second brush with Canada will be more memorable than his first.
Last September, the former University of Oklahoma starter travelled to Whitby, Ont., attempting to qualify during the Tours annual Fall Q-School at Royal Ashburn Golf Club.
The attempt didnt last long.
Cureton missed his morning wake-up call before the opening round or, he stresses, one did not come. Either way, with just six minutes before his tee time and a twenty-minute trek to Royal Ashburn ahead of him, Cureton was disqualified before even taking a swing in Canada.
That wasnt one of my finer moments, he says. I loved it up there and it was a great course, but it didnt end the way I had hoped.
He is making up for it this time around.
Playing out of Stonebridge CC in McKinney, Tex., Cureton has spent a lot of time practicing with reigning British Open champion Todd Hamilton, a former Canadian Tour member, and has been working out much of this past winter with Adam Short of Vineland, Ont.
Paired with Wittenberg Thursday, Cureton was all over the map early in the third round. After getting up and down for par on his opening hole, the 25-year-old followed that up with a bogey before making back-to-back par putts from ten and fifteen feet, respectively, on his next two holes.
I could have been 3 or 4-over right away, so it was key for me to make those par saves early, said Cureton, who credits legendary Texas coach Ben Parks for much of his improvement. It was great playing with Casey today, he is a heck of a player and just a good guy. But I needed to focus on my own game. I told myself two things before I teed off: Ive played a lot of golf with a guy that just won the British Open, and you know, Im a pretty good player myself.
All week long, Wittenberg has proved the media scrutiny and accolades are warranted. Less than a year after a 13th-place finish at The Masters, the best result by an amateur at Augusta in more than four decades, the 20-year-old is showing maturity and composure well beyond his years as he looks to lock up playing status on a professional circuit for the first time. Despite a double-bogey, bogey finish in the opening round that tested that composure for a few brief moments, Wittenberg has lingered near the top of the leaderboard all week, following up his 73 Tuesday with a 6-under 66 in the second round, the low round of the day.
With just one day to go before he nails down membership on the Canadian Tour, Cureton has no intention of slipping into cruise control for the final 18 holes.
I cant think of a better place to be, added Cureton. but you cant go out there and gimp it around the golf course (in the final round). Things can go sour in a hurry.
There may be a little extra pressure on Cureton this week. Three months after he tied the knot, his new bride Jenny is asking Cureton to take a more serious approach on the course.
Cureton may want to heed her advice. Jennys father, who also moonlights on the side as Curetons part-time caddy, is a Dallas police officer.
She told me I had better get serious about this, he laughs. It was time to start playing for real, or get a real job.
Scores Thursday after the third round of the Canadian Tours Winter Qualifying School being held at the 7,000 yard, par-72 Black Bear GC (a-denotes amateur):

1. Cureton, Chris McKinney, TX 72 67 69 208
2. McNeil, Scott Calgary, AB 71 68 70 209
3. Collins, Glenn Winnipeg, MB 70 68 74 212
4. Wittenberg, Casey Memphis, TN 73 66 74 213
5. Davis, Brien Las Vegas, NV 72 73 69 214
5. Heinen, Eddie Las Vegas, NV 70 71 73 214
5. Humphries, John Baton Rouge, LA 70 70 74 214
5. Seki, Jim Palo Alto, CA 74 68 72 214
9. Lydiatt, Chad Omaha, NE 73 71 72 216
9. Sahl, Danny Twinsburg, OH 69 70 77 216
9. Smith, Jesse Barrington, NH 74 67 75 216
12. Horowitz, Joe Long Beach, N.Y. 70 75 72 217
12. Meierling, Jan Germany 72 71 74 217
12. Mulder, Brock Dallas, TX 72 71 74 217
15. Kings, Ryan Kitchener, ON 72 73 73 218
15. McNally. Michael Billings, MT 70 77 71 218
15. Snelling, Justin Boise, ID 71 72 75 218
15. Zihala, Billy Little Rock, AR 70 71 77 218
19. Hospodar, Michael Brantford, ON 76 72 71 219
20. Ferlic, Gavin South Bend, IN 73 72 76 221
20. Hibler, Jesse Boise, ID 75 68 78 221
20. Makino, Yuji Japan 76 70 75 221
20. McLeod, Mac Winnipeg, MB 73 72 76 221
20. Park, Pedro New Zealand 74 77 70 221
25. Guetz, Bret Scottsdale, AZ 81 71 72 224
26. Brown, Michael Cheltenham, PA 81 74 70 225
26. Parker, Adrian Jupiter, FL 77 74 74 225
28. Peterson, Brett Mesa, AZ 79 69 78 226
28. Yopchick, Scott Chicago, IL 79 77 70 226
30. Dickenson, Billy Haines City, FL 74 77 76 227
30. Kennedy, Robert Phoenix, AZ 78 73 76 227
30. Martin, Greg Austin, TX 72 77 78 227
30. Sherriff, Justin London, ON 75 79 73 227
30. Williams, JJ Palm Beach Gardens, FL 75 75 77 227
35. Kilduff, Lynn Dallas, TX 75 73 80 228
36. Cook, Dan Charleston, SC 79 74 77 230
36. Deschaine, Matt Bay Minette, AL 74 74 82 230
38. Berger, Kelly Wausau, WI 78 75 78 231
38. Hoenig, Ron Hobe Sound, FL 78 76 77 231
38. Johnstone, Evan Orinda, CA 78 76 77 231
38. Sitterley, Rob Orlando, FL 78 78 75 231
42. Heinz, Jerry Poway, CA 81 74 77 232
43. Ibarreche, Juan Pablo Mexico 78 75 80 233
43. Tripp, Shane Orlando, FL 84 74 75 233
45. Noble, Scott Cartersville, GA 77 76 81 234
46. Savard, Marc (A) Peterborough, ON 78 79 78 235
47. Petrie, Michael Inverary, ON 78 79 79 236
48. Ryan, Jeffery Key West, FL 76 84 77 237
49. Yarvi, Matt (A) Orlando, FL 85 74 79 238
50. Hogg, Ian St. Davids, ON 76 79 88 243