The long and winding road to a PGA Tour card

By Associated PressOctober 20, 2010, 12:59 am

PGA Tour (75x100)PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – David Duval flunked Q-school twice, and both times came away feeling good about himself.

Because at least he tried.

The question is how many others, who haven’t achieved nearly as much, will even bother.

Duval was one of those can’t-miss college stars – he had the 54-hole lead at a PGA Tour event as an amateur – but in his first attempt to get on tour, he failed miserably. He didn’t even make the 72-hole cut for the final two rounds of qualifying school.

“Failed miserably? Thanks,” he said with a chuckle. “Actually, I birdied five of the last 10 holes in the fourth round. Moved right up to the number to make the cut. Then watched that arrow move right up to 2 under and I was out. But I gave it my best shot.”

Duval returned last year with a resume unlike any other at Q-school – a 13-time tour winner, British Open champion, former No. 1 in the world. He didn’t want to be there. But without a tour card, Duval felt that’s where he was supposed to be.

His five-year exemption from winning the British Open ended in 2006. He used a one-time exemption for being top 25 in the career earnings, received an extra year because of health issues at home, then used his exemption for top 50 in career money. He finished 130th on the money list in 2009 to lose his card and faced a tough decision.

Duval could still get in a fair number of tournaments, and since he remained a popular figure in golf, he could count on sponsor exemptions to get him through the year. Instead, he packed away his pride and headed back to school.

“I don’t know why you wouldn’t,” he said. “You do what you need to if you’re serious about playing great golf. I’m sure at some point, the people at these tournaments who decide on sponsor exemptions look at who goes to Q-school and tries to do it themselves. Because they know you’re working, you’re going. You’ve got to make an effort on your own. Some people don’t even try.”

Duval failed again. He shot 79 in the fourth round, never recovered and finished in a tie for 78th, a category that doesn’t even award full status on the Nationwide Tour.

As expected, Duval got into enough tournaments and received enough sponsor exemptions to put together a decent schedule. And he played well enough in two tournaments – a tie for second at the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, and a tie for sixth last week in the Open – so that he won’t be going back to school.

He is No. 99 on the money list with two tournaments remaining. Duval is playing Las Vegas this week, hopeful of a win. At the very worst, he gets to return to The Players Championship next year for the first time since 2006.

Was going to Q-school even worth it?

Duval thinks it was worth at least a couple of sponsor exemptions he received.

“I went to Q-school knowing that I could play well and get through,” he said. “And if I didn’t, that my status over 15 years and support of these tournaments would be remembered. But I didn’t count on that entirely. I still went. Because I think it shows I’m doing all I can.”

Duval was among 25 players who had conditional status by finishing out of the top 125 but inside the top 150 on the money list. That essentially puts them only in tournaments that have the weakest fields, and often the smallest purses.

Fifteen of them went back to Q-school, and for good reason. The six who made it through played an average of 27 tournaments this year because they had higher status. Not surprisingly, five of those six look to be a lock to keep their cards this year (the exception is Joe Ogilvie, who is at No. 134 going into Las Vegas).

The nine players who failed Q-school average just over 20 starts. From that group, Duval is the only one who has locked up his card. Robert Garrigus is at No. 122, while Aron Price is at No. 126 and Tom Pernice Jr., a 51-year-old model of hard work and high hopes, is at No. 133.

Among those who didn’t go back to school was Chris DiMarco. He has played 23 tournaments and is No. 16 on the money list. DiMarco at least signed up for Q-school this year.

John Daly, meanwhile, didn’t sign up again. The two-time major champion has been living off exemptions and his status as a past champion for the last four years, and those offers are starting to dwindle. His first year on exemptions, he talked about having so many that he had to turn some down – a nice problem to have. This year, he has played only 19 events and is No. 193 on the money list.

If he’s serious about his game, why not go?

“I would say it’s just ego,” said Dean Wilson, referring not only to Daly but anyone who doesn’t have a card and won’t go back to school. “I can’t find a reason why not to go. I think I mailed my application in before Canada.”

Wilson was runner-up in the Canadian Open, and his play last week at the Open makes him secure for next year. He didn’t get out of the second stage of Q-school last year, but at least he tried. Relying on his status as a past champion, he played 16 events.

Daly isn’t the only player who avoids Q-school, but he has become the face of those who would rather ask for a handout.

One incident at the start of the year spoke volumes.

Tim Herron, who finished at No. 131 on the money list last year, left his wife and three young boys at home in Minnesota to fly to Honolulu for Monday qualifying. He failed. Then he flew to San Diego and failed again. Heading out to his car at Torrey Pines, Herron mentioned that Daly had invited him to take part in a corporate outing that week in southern California.

“I told him that I’d love to help,” Herron said. “But I had to Monday qualify.”

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High school seniors win U.S. Amateur Four-Ball

By Associated PressMay 24, 2018, 1:44 am

TEQUESTA, Fla. - The 18-year-old Hammer, from Houston, is set to play at Texas next fall. Barber, from Stuart, Fla., also is 18. He's headed to LSU.

''Growing up watching U.S. Opens and U.S. Amateurs on TV, I just knew being a USGA champion is something that I desperately wanted,'' said Hammer, who qualified for a U.S. Open three years ago at 15. ''And to finally do it, it feels incredible. It feels as good, if not better, than I thought it would. And especially being able to do it with Garrett. It's really cool to share this moment.''

Hammer and Cole won the par-4 eighth with a birdie to take a 2-up lead. They took the par-4 10th with a par, won the par-5 13th with an eagle - Barber hit a 4-iron from 235 yards to 3 feet - and halved the next two holes to end the match.

''Cole didn't want me to hit 4-iron,'' Barber said. ''He didn't think I could get it there. I was like, 'I got it.' So I hit it hard, hit pretty much a perfect shot. It was a crazy shot.''

The 32-year-old Dull is from Winter Park, Fla., and the 42-year-old Brooke from Altamonte Springs, Fla.

''Cole Hammer is a special player,'' Brooke said. ''Obviously, he's going to Texas (and) I'm not saying he is Jordan Spieth, but there are certain things that he does.''

In the morning semifinals, Hammer and Barber beat Idaho high school teammates Carson Barry and Sam Tidd, 5 and 4, and Brooke and Dull topped former Seattle University teammates Kyle Cornett and Patrick Sato, 4 and 3.

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Arizona captures NCAA DI Women's Championship

By Jay CoffinMay 23, 2018, 11:56 pm

STILLWATER, Okla. – Turns out this match play format provides fireworks. Almost always.

In the four years since the women’s NCAA Championship has switched from the stale, 72-hole stroke-play format the championship matches have been pure magic.

This year, for the third time in the past four years, the final outcome came down to the last match and Arizona took home its third title with a 3-2 victory over Alabama on Wednesday when junior Haley Moore defeated senior Lakareber Abe on the 19th hole.

The Wildcats also won NCAA titles in 1996 and 2000, the later when current Arizona coach Laura Ianello was on the team as a player.

“Arizona is my home, it is where I went to school and it needs to be back home,” Ianello said. “So I am so proud to be the coach to bring it back.”

Two days ago, Arizona was in the midst of an epic collapse. They were safely in the third position after 54 holes of stroke play and needed to only be inside the top-eight after 72 holes to advance to the match play portion of the event.

But they played the worst round of the day and were on the outside looking in with one hole remaining when junior Bianca Pagdanganan made eagle on the par-5 18th hole. That propelled the Wildcats into a playoff against Baylor that they ultimately won.

On the first day of match play, Arizona continued to ride the wave of momentum by defeating Pac-12 rivals UCLA, the top seed, and Stanford, a match play stalwart the past three years.

Next up for Arizona was Alabama, the top-ranked team in the country and the second seed this week after stroke play.

NCAA Women’s DI Championship: Team scoring

NCAA Women’s DI Championship: Individual scoring

“Win or lose tomorrow, this has been a helluva ride,” Ianello said, attempting to take pressure off her team, which, on paper, looked like an underdog.

But you know the saying, anything can happen in match play, and often does.

Alabama coach Mic Potter put out his three first-team All-Americans in the first three spots hoping to jump out to an early lead. Junior Lauren Stephenson played poorly in the opening match and lost, 4 and 3, to freshman Yu-Sang Hou.

Kristen Gillman and Cheyenne Knight dispatched of Wildcats Gigi Stoll and Pagdanganan easily in the second and third matches.

Arizona’s Sandra Nordaas beat Angelica Moresco, 1 up, in the fourth match meaning the fifth and final match behind, which was all square after 16 holes, was going to be the one to decide the NCAA title.

Lakareber lost the 17th hole when her approach shot sailed well short and right of the green in thick, thick rough. She attempted to advance the ball but could not and headed to the final hole 1 down.

With seemingly every golf fan in Stillwater on site, including several men’s teams here to participate in next week’s championship, Abe hit a laser second shot into the par-5 18th hole setting up a 12-foot look for eagle. Moore failed to put pressure on Abe and Abe won the hole to set up extra holes to decide the championship.

In the extra frame, Moore was left of the green in two shots and Abe was short in the greenside bunker. Moore chipped to 4 feet and Abe’s bunker shot was 6 feet away. Abe missed, Moore made and Arizona walked away with the hardware.

“It means so much, it’s actually like a dream,” Moore said. “I’m just so happy for my team right now.”

Potter has been a head coach for 35 years – at both Furman and Alabama – and finally was able to collect his first NCAA Championship in 2012. Being so close to a second one will sting for quite awhile but he will be able to live with the outcome for one simple reason.

“They fought their hearts out all year,” Potter said. “I just want to congratulate them for the way they battled, not only today, but in match play. Everyone gave their best on every shot, that’s all we can ask.”

Arizona def. Alabama, 3-2

Yu-Sang Hou (AZ) def. Lauren Stephenson (AL), 4 and 3

Kristen Gillman (AL) def. Gigi Stoll (AZ), 4 and 3

Cheyenne Knight (AL) def. Bianca Pagdanganan, 4 and 2

Sandra Nordaas (AZ) def. Angelica Moresco (AL), 1 up

Haley Moore (AZ) def. Lakareber Abe (AL), 19th hole

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Elway to play in U.S. Senior Open qualifier

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 23, 2018, 10:25 pm

Tony Romo is not the only ex-QB teeing it up against the pros.

Denver Broncos general manager and Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway will try to qualify for the U.S. Senior Open next week, according to the Denver Post.

And why not? The qualifier and the senior major will be held in Colorado Springs at the Broadmoor. Elway is scheduled to tee off May 28 at 12:10 p.m. ET. The top two finishers will earn a spot in the U.S. Senior Open, June 27 to July 1.

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Jutanugarn sisters: Different styles, similar results

By Associated PressMay 23, 2018, 10:20 pm

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Ariya and Moriya Jutanugarn play golf and live life differently.

The sisters from Thailand do have the same goal in the LPGA, hoping their shot-to-shot focus leads to titles.

The Jutanugarns are two of six women with a shot at the Volvik Championship to become the circuit's first two-time winner this year. The first round begins Thursday at Travis Pointe Country Club, a course six winners are skipping to prepare elsewhere for next week's U.S. Women's Open at Shoal Creek in Alabama.

''Everybody has a chance to win every weekend,'' Moriya said. ''That's how hard it is on tour right now.''

Ariya competes with a grip-it-and-rip-it approach, usually hammering a 3-wood off the tee.

Moriya takes a more calculated approach, analyzing each shot patiently.

That's perhaps fitting because she's 16 months older than her sister.

''It's funny because when we think about something, it's always the different,'' she said. ''But we pretty much end up with the same idea.''

Off the course, they're also different.

The 22-year-old Ariya appears careful and guarded when having conversations with people she doesn't know well. The 23-year-old Moriya, meanwhile, enjoys engaging in interesting discussions with those who cross her path.

Their mother, Narumon, was with her daughters Wednesday and the three of them always stay together as a family. They don't cook during tournament weeks and opt to eat out, searching for good places like the sushi restaurant they've discovered near Travis Pointe.

Their father, Somboon, does not watch them play in person. They sisters say he has retired from owning a golf shop in Thailand.

''He doesn't travel anymore,'' Moriya Jutanugarn said.

Even if he is relegating to watching from the other side of the world, Somboon Jutanugarn must be proud of the way his daughters are playing.

Ariya became the first Thai winner in LPGA history in 2016, the same year she went on to win the inaugural Volvik Championship. She earned her eighth career victory last week in Virginia and is one of two players, along with Brooke Henderson, to have LPGA victories this year and the previous two years.

Moriya won for the first time in six years on the circuit last month in Los Angeles, joining Annika and Charlotta Sorenstam as the two pairs of sisters to have LPGA victories.

On the money list, Ariya is No. 1 and her sister is third.

In terms of playing regularly, no one is ahead of them.

Ariya is the only LPGA player to start and make the cut in all 12 events this year. Moriya Jutanugarn has also appeared in each tournament this year and failed to make the cut only once.

Instead of working in breaks to practice without competing or simply relax, they have entered every tournament so far and shrug their shoulders at the feat.

''It's not that bad, like 10 week in a row,'' Moriya said.

The LPGA is hosting an event about five miles from Michigan Stadium for a third straight year and hopes to keep coming back even though it doesn't have a title sponsor secured for 2019. LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan told reporters he's confident Ann Arbor will be a long-term home for the circuit.

''I can't tell you the specifics about how we're going to do that,'' Whan acknowledged.

LPGA and tournament officials are hosting some prospective sponsors this week, trying to persuade them to put their name on the tournament.

Volvik, which makes golf balls, is preparing to scale back its support of the tournament.

''We're coming back,'' said Don Shin, president of Volvik USA. ''We just don't know in what capacity.''