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Sucher heads back to school on familiar assignment

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It’s exam time for professional golfers and Zack Sucher is sharpening his No. 2 pencils.

But unlike some of the other 1,200 Q-School applicants this fall, Sucher isn’t experiencing any test anxiety.

He’s not afraid he won’t have the answers. He’s not afraid of drawing a blank. He’s not afraid of freezing over a tough shot. Nope, none of those issues are a concern to Zack.

“I’ve been playing better and better as they year goes on, so I’m excited and feeling confident,” Sucher said.

Sucher heads to the first stage of PGA Tour Q-School this week at the Auburn University Club in Auburn, Ala., 110 miles southeast of his current Birmingham residence.

Having grown up in Alabama, the Auburn University Club is a familiar assignment for Sucher, where he’s played roughly 50 times. One of those times came at the first stage of Q-School last year, where he shot rounds of 67-69-72-67 to finish second and advance, ultimately making it to the final stage in 2010. He played six rounds at even par in the final stage and missed earning full Nationwide status for 2011 by three shots.

Sucher bested last year’s second-place finish at the Auburn University Club when he won two events held at the course in high school. We’ll have to consult the judges on this one, but all those reps must be the standardized test equivalent of SAT prep classes.

And it appears Sucher’s reps and prep work is paying off. The 25-year-old is coming off two recent made cuts on the Nationwide Tour – one at the WNB Golf Classic in Midland, Texas and the other at the Children’s Hospital Classic in Chattanooga, Tenn.

The made cut at Chattanooga marked Sucher’s fifth Nationwide made cut of the year and the first time wife Courtney had seen her husband play in 2011.

“I enjoyed it,” Courtney said. “I miss traveling that’s for sure.

“He looks so much more confident and laid back. He looks like he belongs out there.”

Courtney’s sentiments echo those we heard from Zack the last time we caught up with him in September, after having qualified for and made the cut in three Nationwide events in a row.

“I feel like an actual player now which is cool for a change,” Zack joked in September.

It’s those jokes, that laid-back attitude and easy temperament that have always given Zack a leg up on his competitors and why we nicknamed him ‘The Big Easy-Going’ earlier this year.

“Where I have an advantage over other players would be my mental game. Staying pretty mellow the whole round…I pretty much enjoy it the whole time. A lot of guys you watch out there don’t look like they have a lot of fun,” Zack has said in the past.

He’s mellow, confident and ready to try his hand at Q-School again this year. Both he and Courtney feel he’s grown greatly as a player and a person in 2011 and they’re both ready for what’s next.

“I thought I would be nervous, but I’m excited. He played better this year but mostly I feel like he has a whole better understanding. However it goes will be fine, but I just think he’s at such a better place this year,” Courtney said.

With her recent raise and promotion, Courtney’s at a better place now than she was this time last year, too – financially – and is able to lessen some of Zack’s monetary stress and worry.

“I mean, it alleviates some of the pressure but it would obviously be so nice to have Zack do well,” Courtney said.

If Zack plays well and earns his card, the two may begin to have more serious discussions about family planning.

“Well, we’ll see. Maybe after Q-School,” Courtney laughed.

Zack appears to be primed and ready for the first stage. His pencils are sharpened, his mind free and his spirit willing. He's put in the practice and the focus; now it's time to wait and see the results.