Los Serranos G&CC in Chino Hills will play host to 95 Tour hopefuls representing five countries when opening-round play kicks off Tuesday. Those players will be vying for one of ten exempt cards the Canadian Tour will hand out for the 2005 season after Q-School wraps up Friday. Another ten players, plus ties, will earn non-exempt status.
Last week, fourteen new members joined the Canadian Tour ranks at Winter Qualifying in Eustis, Fla., including U.S. amateur star Casey Wittenberg and Canadians Scott McNeil, Glenn Collins and Danny Sahl.
Seventy-four of the 95 players in the starting field this week hail from the United States, with Canada and Japan being represented by nine and eight players, respectively. Three players made the trip from Australia while one contestant hails from New Zealand.
Players who earn Tour cards this week will not have to wait long to get their first taste of action: the season-opening Barton Creek Austin Canadian Tour Pro-Am Classic presented by Yes! Golf will be held Mar. 12-15 in Austin, Tex.
This will mark the second straight year that the California school is held at Los Serranos. In 2004, Australian Ben Bunny took medallist honurs with a seven-shot margin of victory with Gordy Scutt of Victoria and Calgarys Travis Inlow earning non-exempt status. Inlow returns to California this week looking to play his way back on Tour.
Since the Canadian Tour began staging winter qualifying schools back in 2001, many graduates have gone on to make an immediate impact on Tour. Both Eamonn Brady (2001) and Anders Hultman (2003) won their initial Tour starts just hours after receiving their playing cards. In 2002, Hank Kuehne, Jeff Quinney and Jimmy Walker won the second, third and fourth events of the season after earning playing privileges in Orlando, Fla. That season, six players from the 02 winter school would combine to win eight titles in their rookie seasons while two players from that class have won two of the past three Canadian Tour money crowns (Kuehne in 2002 and Erik Compton this year).
Several players from Winter Q-Schools have also moved on to the PGA Tour in the past three seasons, among them Kuehne, Walker, James Driscoll, Jess Daley, Will Mackenzie and Jason Allred.