Rookie Class Grows in 2003

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PGA Tour (75x100)A class of 29 will make 2003 their rookie year on the PGA Tour. The group is eight larger than its predecessor.
 
Of the collection, 20 earned their cards through Q-School, while the other nine came via the Buy.Com Tour.
 
There were also nine Buy.Com graduates who were rookies this past year ' five finished inside the top 125 on the money list, four did not.
 
Twelve of the tours newest members are foreign born: five from Australia, two from Japan, two from Sweden, and one each from Czechoslovakia, England and New Zealand.
 
2003 PGA Tour rookie class
 
The most intriguing addition to the tour may be John E. Morgan. The Englishman tied for 11th at Q-School. He had already earned his European Tour card, having won on the Challenge Tour ' all this in just eight months as a professional.
 
But even more impressive is what Morgan has had to overcome in his personal life. The 24-year-old suffers from epilepsy and dyslexia.
 
His first epileptic seizure, at the age of 20, resulted in two cracked ribs and the biting off of part of his tongue.
 
Other rookies of note include Alex Cejka, the Czech-born German transplant who has four European Tour victories to his credit, including this year's Trophee Lancome; Carl Pettersson, the Swedish standout from N.C. State who contended at this years British Open; James McLean, the 1998 NCAA individual champion out of Minnesota; Aaron Baddeley, the 21-year-old Australian prodigy; and 1997 U.S. Amateur runner-up Joel Kribel.
 
Last year, 21 players started the year with exempt status ' 11 kept their cards by finishing inside the top 125 on the money list, and two regained their playing privileges by qualifying through Q-School.
 
Jonathan Byrd and Luke Donald were the only rookies to win this past season. Byrd captured the Buick Challenge by shooting a final-round 63, while Donald was declared the winner the following week at the Southern Farm Bureau Classic when the final round was washed away.
 
Byrd ended the year 39th on the money list, and was closely followed by fellow first-timers Pat Perez (40th) and Australian Peter Lonard (41st).
 
The three are the leading candidates for Rookie of the Year. The explosive Perez had six top-10 finishes, including a pair of runner-ups. Lonard, who was sidelined 18 months in the early 1990s after contracting Ross River Fever, a mosquito-carried virus that damages the eyes, made his first 22 cuts of the year and had four top-10s.
 
On the opposite end of consistency, Boo Weekley, the camouflage-pants-wearing, tennis-shoe-sporting Southerner, missed 18 cuts and had one withdrawal in 24 starts. His best result was a tie for 19th at the FedEx St. Jude Classic. He earned just over $95,000 in finishing 200th on the money list.
 
The worst money finish belonged to Brenden Pappas. He made only six cuts in 25 events, ending the year in 206th place in the cash department. He earned a reprieve, however, by tying for eighth at the Qualifying Tournament.
 
Likewise, Brian Bateman, who was 159th on the money list, also tied for eighth at Q-School.