Long Road After Q-School

By Associated PressNovember 27, 2007, 5:00 pm
PGA Tour (75x100)Eighteen players who made it through 108 holes of stomach churning last year at Q-school earned their PGA TOUR cards, and what did that get them? A return trip to what many consider to be the toughest six days in golf.
 
The reality of Q-school is that six days is not nearly as difficult as the 10 months that follow.
 
The final stage of PGA TOUR qualifying starts Wednesday at Orange County National in Orlando, Fla., and most of the 166 players would do well to remember the words of Rich Beem. He was asked what his goal was after earning his TOUR card in 1998.
 
'Keep my job,' Beem said, pausing after each word.
 
'Are you kidding?' he continued. 'I was so lost out there, I didn't even figure out until after the tournament in Hawaii that they gave us free food. I ate hot dogs at that tent between the first and 10th tee all week. I never expected to be where I am now. I wanted to keep my job, or at least say that I played on the PGA TOUR for a year.'
 
Next year will be his 10th straight season on TOUR. Not bad for a guy who was selling car stereos in Seattle.
 
Beem is one example of why Q-school remains as meaningful today as its first year in 1965. Guys like Beem are why some two dozen players will leave Orange County National next Monday with high hopes.
 
If nothing else, a PGA TOUR card is a license to dream.
 
Beem eventually found player dining in the months after Q-school, and drinks were on the house when he won the Kemper Open. He was one of three Q-school grads from the class of '98 who were PGA TOUR winners the next season. The others were Carlos Franco, who won twice, and Mike Weir, who in five years went from Q-school to Masters champion.
 
Yes, the hard part is keeping your job, but the good news for Q-school finalists is that 1998 was hardly a fluke.
 
One only has to look back one year to find George O'Neill. He was an assistant pro at Forest Country Club in Fort Myers, Fla., when he decided to try Q-school again. After failing in eight previous trips, he was the medalist and finally earned his card.
 
'I'm ready to see what I can do,' O'Neill said that day.
 
He wound up winning the Fry's.com Open in Las Vegas, joining Brian Bateman (Buick Open) and Mark Wilson (Honda Classic) as PGA TOUR winners who only a year ago were grinding away in Q-school. Bateman and Wilson got their cards on the number.
 
This happens more than people realize.
 
A year ago, J.B. Holmes went from Q-school medalist to FBR Open champion in two months. The year before that, Sean O'Hair narrowly made it through Q-school, then won the John Deere Classic to earn a spot at St. Andrews for the British Open.
 
Players who get their cards at Q-school have won the following season every year since 1981.
 
'I would have lost that bet,' Lucas Glover said Tuesday. 'That's pretty unbelievable.'
 
Glover is on that list, having made it through Q-school in 2004, then winning the Disney Classic the following year by holing a bunker shot for birdie on the 72nd hole.
 
'I think the pressure you go through at Q-school sets you up for the tour, for that last nine holes if you have a chance to win,' Glover said. 'I wanted to keep my card for the next year. But you have to dream big.'
 
Some players on the list of winners captured the essence of hope that Q-school brings.
 
Ben Curtis was just another face in the field at PGA West in 2002, one of 38 players who earned a TOUR card. Seven months later, blinking in the sunlight of a hot English summer, he cradled the silver claret jug as the British Open champion.
 
'The first goal I set was to retain my card for the year,' Curtis said. 'It was nothing extravagant, like winning three times, or even winning once. Obviously, when you play you want to win. But the big goal was to finish in the top 125, keep building on that, and try to improve each week and each year.
 
'I didn't think too much about winning until it happened.'
 
Four players who made it through Q-school over the last 10 years have gone on to win majors -- Curtis, Beem, Weir and Todd Hamilton, who followed his first successful trip through Q-school by winning the Honda Classic and British Open.
 
Remember, though, 18 of the 40 players who earned cards last year are back for more punishment. Only 12 of them kept their jobs, and the other 10 didn't even make it back to the final stage.
 
For all the inspiration from players like McNeill, Curtis, Beem and Glover, Q-school has far more stories of failure.
 
Such is the nature of golf.
 
It has been proven the Nationwide Tour offers better experience and a higher success rate. According to PGA TOUR research, 40 percent of Nationwide Tour graduates since 1991 have kept their cards, compared with 30 percent from Q-school. Major champions who paid their dues in the minor leagues include Tom Lehman, David Toms, Jim Furyk, David Duval and Shaun Micheel.
 
'Unless you have experience, those guys from the Nationwide Tour have a huge advantage,' Beem said.
 
Still, it all starts with a dream.
 
After he won the Kemper Open in 1999, Beem was in the final year of his two-year exemption when he made eagle on the 17th hole to win the International. A week later, he shot 68 in the final round at Hazeltine to hold off a furious charge from Tiger Woods and win the 2002 PGA Championship, a career-defining victory.
 
All those memories, and one of his favorite keepsakes is in his wallet. It's the stub of his scorecard from the final round at Q-school, when Beem shot 66 to tie for eighth and earn his ticket to the PGA TOUR.
 
'It's the only stub I've ever kept,' Beem said.
 
That stub represents a tour card, and that gave Beem a chance. That's all any of these guys can ask.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - PGA TOUR Qualifying Tournament
     
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    Chamblee: Like Tiger in '13, Mickelson should've DQ'd self

    By Golf Channel DigitalJune 19, 2018, 2:46 pm

    Two days after Brooks Koepka left Long Island with the U.S. Open trophy, the third-round antics of Phil Mickelson are still garnering plenty of discussion.

    Mickelson became a lightning rod of opinion after he intentionally hit a moving ball on the 13th green Saturday at Shinnecock Hills, incurring a two-shot penalty but not a disqualification. In the aftermath, he explained that he made a conscious choice to take the penalty to avoid playing back and forth across the crispy putting surface, and he tied for 48th after a final-round 66.

    Speaking Tuesday on "Morning Drive," Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee shared his view that Mickelson would have been well-served to disqualify himself ahead of the final round. He also compared it to Tiger Woods' incident at the 2013 Masters, when he took an incorrect drop and, like Mickelson, received a two-shot penalty but not a disqualification.



    "I think Tiger, at least it's my opinion that his year would have been less distracting if he had done so," Chamblee said. "And I think the same of Phil Mickelson. If he had withdrawn from the championship and said, 'Look. This is a little sketchy. It didn't play out the way I thought. I've given it some thought and it's in the best interest of the championship that I withdraw.'"

    Chamblee added that Mickelson's antics were "really distracting" on a day filled with drama as the USGA lost control of course conditions, noting that Mickelson and playing partner Andrew "Beef" Johnston were the only tee time where both players failed to break 80 despite the difficult conditions.

    But having had time to review the situation and having surveyed a number of peers, Chamblee is as convinced as ever that Mickelson made a mistake by showing up for his final-round tee time.

    "What Phil did, I haven't run into a single person that hasn't said he deserved to be disqualified," Chamblee said. "Under any interpretation, a serious breach - if gaining an advantage is not a serious breach, I don't know what is. And he clearly said he was gaining an advantage and doing it for strategic reasons."

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    Norman to pose in ESPN's 'Body Issue'

    By Grill Room TeamJune 19, 2018, 2:05 pm

    Professional golfers have, from time to time, appeared in ESPN's "Body Issue," which features athletes strategically posed in the nude. The list includes: Belen Mozo, Carly Booth, Gary Player, Camilo Villegas, Sandra Gal, Christina Kim, Anna Grzebien, Suzann Pettersen and Sadena Parks.

    And now, Greg Norman.

    Modesty has never been an issue for Norman, who has an affinity for posing without a shirt (and sometimes without pants) on his Instagram account.

    He joins a list of athletes, in this year's edition, ranging from professional wrestlers (Charlotte Flair) to Olympians (Adam Rippon) to WNBA stars (Sue Bird). Click here for a full list of the athletes to appear.

     

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    DJ listed as betting favorite for The Open

    By Will GrayJune 19, 2018, 2:00 pm

    With the U.S. Open officially in the books, oddsmakers quickly turned their attention to the season's third major.

    Minutes after Brooks Koepka holed the winning putt to successfully defend his title at Shinnecock Hills, the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook published its first set of odds for The Open. Jordan Spieth, who opened at 14/1, will defend his title as the tournament shifts to Carnoustie in Scotland for the first time since 2007, when Padraig Harrington defeated Sergio Garcia in a playoff.

    Joining Spieth at 14/1 is 2014 Open champion Rory McIlroy, but they're both listed behind world No. 1 Dustin Johnson. Johnson, who was a runner-up at the 2011 Open at Royal St. George's and just finished third at the U.S. Open, opened as a 12/1 betting favorite. Koepka, now a two-time major winner, is listed at 20/1 alongside U.S. Open runner-up Tommy Fleetwood.

    Here's a look at the first edition of odds, with The Open just five weeks away:

    12/1: Dustin Johnson

    14/1: Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy

    16/1: Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Justin Thomas

    20/1: Brooks Koepka, Tommy Fleetwood, Jon Rahm

    25/1: Jason Day, Henrik Stenson, Tiger Woods

    30/1: Sergio Garcia, Patrick Reed, Hideki Matsuyama

    40/1: Phil Mickelson, Branden Grace, Paul Casey, Alex Noren, Marc Leishman

    50/1: Adam Scott, Louis Oosthuizen, Tyrrell Hatton

    60/1: Matt Kuchar, Patrick Cantlay, Bryson DeChambeau, Ian Poulter, Francesco Molinari, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Matthew Fitzpatrick

    80/1: Tony Finau, Zach Johnson, Thomas Pieters, Daniel Berger, Xander Schauffele, Bubba Watson, Shane Lowry

    100/1: Charl Schwartzel, Webb Simpson, Brandt Snedeker

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    Golf Channel, Loch Lomond Partner on Claret Jug Tour Ahead of 147TH Open

    By Golf Channel Public RelationsJune 18, 2018, 9:35 pm

    Award-Winning Independent Scotcb Whisky Sponsoring Tour to Select U.S. Cities; Will Include Special Tastings and Opportunities for Fans to Engage with Golf’s Most Storied Trophy

    Golf Channel and Loch Lomond Group are partnering on a promotional tour with the Claret Jug – golf’s most iconic trophy, first awarded in 1873 to the winner of The Open – to select U.S. cities in advance of the 147TH Open at Carnoustie Golf Links in Scotland. Loch Lomond Whisky’s sponsorship of the tour further enhances the brand’s existing five-year partnership with the R&A as the official spirit of The Open, initially announced in February.

    “We are proud to partner with Golf Channel to support this tour of golf’s most iconic trophy,” said Colin Matthews, CEO of Loch Lomond Group. “Whisky and golf are two of Scotland’s greatest gifts to the world, and following the news of our recent partnership with the R&A for The Open, being a part of the Claret Jug tour was a perfect fit for Loch Lomond Group to further showcase our commitment to the game.”

    “The Loch Lomond Group could not be a more natural fit to sponsor the Claret Jug tour,” said Tom Knapp, senior vice president of golf sponsorship, NBC Sports Group. “Much like the storied history that accompanies the Claret Jug, Loch Lomond’s Scottish roots trace back centuries ago, and their aspirations to align with golf’s most celebrated traditions will resonate with a broad range of consumers in addition to golf fans and whisky enthusiasts.”

    The tour kicks off today in Austin, Texas, and will culminate on Wednesday, July 11 at the American Century Championship in Lake Tahoe one week prior to The Open. Those wishing to engage with the Claret Jug will have an opportunity at one of several tour stops being staged at Topgolf locations in select cities. The tour will feature a custom, authentic Scottish pub where consumers (of age) can sample Loch Lomond’s portfolio of whiskies in the spirit of golf’s original championship and the Claret Jug. The Claret Jug also will make special pop-up visits to select GolfNow course partners located within some of the designated tour markets.

    (All Times Local)

    Monday, June 18                    Austin, Texas              (Topgolf, 5:30-8:30 p.m.)

    Tuesday, June 19                    Houston                      (Topgolf, 5-8 p.m.)

    Wednesday, June 20               Jacksonville, Fla.        (Topgolf, 6-9 p.m.)

    Monday, June 25                    Orlando, Fla.               (Topgolf, 6-9 p.m.)

    Wednesday, July 4                 Washington D.C.        (Topgolf, 5:30-8:30 p.m. – Ashburn, Va.)

    Monday, July 9                       Edison, N.J.                (Topgolf, Time TBA)

    Wednesday, July 11               Lake Tahoe, Nev.       American Century Championship (On Course)

    Fans interacting with the Claret Jug and Loch Lomond during the course of the tour are encouraged to share their experience using the hashtag, #ClaretJug on social media, and tag @TheOpen and @LochLomondMalts on Twitter and Instagram.

    NBC Sports Group is the exclusive U.S. television home of the 147TH Open from Carnoustie, with nearly 50 live hours of tournament coverage, Thursday-Sunday, July 19-22. The Claret Jug is presented each July to the winner of The Open, with the winner also being given the title of “Champion Golfer of the Year” until the following year’s event is staged. The Claret Jug is one of the most storied trophies in all of sports; first presented to the 1873 winner of The Open, Tom Kidd. Each year, the winner’s name is engraved on to the trophy, forever etched into the history of golf’s original championship. It is customary for the Champion Golfer of the Year to drink a favorite alcoholic beverage from the Claret Jug in celebration of the victory.