Lee, Fisher, Compton among Q-School grads

By Doug FergusonDecember 4, 2012, 12:25 am

LA QUINTA, Calif. – D.H. Lee of South Korea wiped away a single tear when he realized he had earned a job on the PGA Tour. Moments later, Edward Loar stood tall as he spoke about two shots into the water on the last two holes at Q-School that sent him back to the minor leagues.

Amid this familiar contrast of emotions, a sense of nostalgia swept across the California desert late Monday afternoon.

'To get this one is extra special, knowing that next year guys won't have this opportunity,' said Scott Langley, one of 25 players who earned cards in the final edition of this six-round tournament that offers a ticket to the richest tour in golf.

The PGA Tour next year will end a half-century of tradition when Q-School will only provide cards to the secondary Web.com Tour.

The PGA Tour is changing its structure to make it more competitive than ever. The players who failed to reach the FedEx Cup playoffs will meet in a series of four tournaments called 'The Finals,' and the 25 players who earn the most money from those events will get their cards.


The Last Q-School: Articles, videos and photos

Profiles of the 26 Q-School graduates


That was on the mind of so many players who sweated out six days over two golf courses at PGA West.

Lee birdied his last three holes for a 5-under 67 on the Stadium Course to win Q-School, which gives him the highest priority of the 25 players who earned cards, along with a $50,000 first-place check. Ross Fisher of England, who won two matches at the Ryder Cup two years ago in Wales, was among those who finished one shot behind.

Fisher has played plenty in America, mostly the majors and World Golf Championships because of his world ranking. But when he heard about the PGA Tour's change, he skipped the season-ending European Tour event in Dubai to get ready for Q-School.

'This game can go high and it can go low,' Fisher said. 'Last year for me was not great. This year has been a work in progress. But it was the last year of Q-School, and it was nice to create a bit of history to be one of the guys at the last one.'

Camilo Villegas, who won back-to-back FedEx Cup playoff events in 2008, had to return to Q-School and missed his card by two shots. Villegas said he would hope for sponsor exemptions to try to get back his full status.

Heath Slocum, only three years removed from a FedEx Cup playoff win in which he beat Tiger Woods, Ernie Els, Steve Stricker and Padraig Harrington with a birdie on the last hole, also failed to get through. Slocum needed a birdie on his last hole, but a bad swing came at the wrong time. He pulled his tee shot into the water and made bogey. A day earlier, Slocum's ball moved a fraction of an inch before a putt and he called a one-shot penalty on himself.

'They say crazy stuff happens in Q-School, and it does,' Slocum said. 'That's never happened before. That's one shot. You never know when one shot can help.'

Among those earning their cards was Erik Compton, who only four years ago nearly died of a heart attack while driving himself to the hospital. He made it in time to survive and get a second heart transplant.

'This is hell week,' said Compton, who said he slept only two hours each of the last two nights. 'There was a sense of urgency for me. I don't know if my health is going to hold up. If I could only go to the Web.com Tour, I probably would beat myself up.'

Robert Karlsson, another former Ryder Cup player whose game was in such disrepair that he withdrew from the British Open this year because he didn't know where the ball was going, made it with three strokes to spare.

The list also includes Donald Constable of Minnesota, who had to go through a pre-qualifier and then three more stages of Q-school to reach the PGA Tour. Constable sweated it out to the very end. Needing a par on the 18th hole of the Stadium Course, he hit his tee shot into an area of thin sand in a bunker, found the far end of the green and lagged a 45-foot to within 5 feet of the cup. Facing the most meaningful putt of his life, he poured it right in the middle.

How would he have felt next year if that putt only meant a spot on the Web.com Tour?

'It's hard to say,' Constable said. 'Obviously, this is something you're working toward your whole life. It makes it tougher, knowing it's right there and you're so close and one shot can make a difference. It would probably be easier if you were only playing for the Web.com Tour.'

Constable is a throwback in other ways. He finished his college eligibility at Minnesota a year ago, but stayed an amateur an additional year so he could complete his degree. He graduated in the spring with a degree in sociology.

The status was more confusing for Si Woo Kim, the 17-year-old South Korean with a flawless swing who already is known by PGA Tour players who have competed against him, a list that includes Rickie Fowler. 'This guy can play,' said Fowler, who faced him in the Korea Open last year.

Yes, but he might not be playing that much.

Kim, even though he earned his card, cannot become a PGA Tour member until he turns 18 on June 28. The only way he can get into PGA Tour events until he turns 18 is through sponsor exemptions (no more than seven) or through Monday qualifying. Whatever FedEx Cup points he earns until his birthday will not show up on the list until he officially becomes a PGA Tour member.

But he's in, and as most players believe, talent comes through under any circumstances.

Loar can only hope that's the case.

It took the former Oklahoma State star 13 years just to reach the PGA Tour, and he was in good shape to return going into the final day of Q-School, just three shots out of the lead. But he showed some nerves early, began dropping shots and found himself only one shot inside the cutoff when he stood on the tee at the par-3 17th, an island green. His 9-iron came up short and went into the water, leading to double bogey. Needing a birdie on the last hole to get his card, his approach drifted left and into the water.

He missed by two.

'It's obviously a hard day for everyone. What else can I say?' Loar said. 'I tried hard. We all know how cruel the game is. I can learn from it. I persevered for 13 years, so hopefully, this won't set me back too much.'


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Fowler (oblique) withdraws from playoff opener

By Will GrayAugust 15, 2018, 8:44 pm

The injury that slowed Rickie Fowler at last week's PGA Championship will keep him out of the first event of the PGA Tour's postseason.

Fowler was reportedly hampered by an oblique injury at Bellerive Country Club, where he started the third round two shots off the lead but faded to a tie for 12th. He confirmed the injury Tuesday in an Instagram post, adding that an MRI revealed a partial tear to his right oblique muscle.

According to Fowler, the injury also affected him at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, where he tied for 17th. After receiving the test results, he opted to withdraw from The Northern Trust next week at Ridgewood Country Club in New Jersey.

"My team and I feel like it's best not to play next week in the Northern Trust," Fowler wrote. "I will be back healthy and competitive ASAP for the FedEx Cup and more than ready for the Ryder Cup!!!"

Fowler is one of eight players who earned automatic spots on the U.S. Ryder Cup team when the qualifying window closed last week. His next opportunity to tee it up would be at the 100-man Dell Technologies Championship, where Fowler won in 2015.

Fowler has 12 top-25 finishes in 18 starts, highlighted by runner-up finishes at both the OHL Classic at Mayakoba in the fall and at the Masters. He is currently 17th in the season-long points race, meaning that he's assured of starts in each of the first three playoff events regardless of performance and in good position to qualify for the 30-man Tour Championship for the fourth time in the last five years.

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Playoff streaks in jeopardy for Garcia, Haas

By Will GrayAugust 15, 2018, 8:12 pm

Since the advent of the FedExCup in 2007, only 13 players have managed to make the playoffs each and every year. But two of the PGA Tour's stalwarts head into the regular-season finale with work to do in order to remain a part of that select fraternity.

Sergio Garcia has rarely had to sweat the top-125 bubble, but the Spaniard enters this week's Wyndham Championship 131st in the current standings. Left with even more work to do is former FedExCup winner Bill Haas, who starts the week in Greensboro 150th.

Garcia got off to a strong start in the spring, sandwiching a pair of top-10 finishes in WGC events around a fourth-place showing at the Valspar Championship. But quality results largely dried up after Garcia missed the cut at the Masters; he has made only two cuts in 10 Tour starts since April, including early exits in all four majors.


Wyndham Championship: Articles, photos and videos


Garcia has some history at Sedgefield Country Club, having won this event in 2012 to break a lengthy U.S. victory drought. He also finished fourth in 2009 but hasn't played the Donald Ross layout since a T-29 finish as the defending champ in 2013.

It's been a difficult year for Haas both on and off the course, as the veteran was involved as a passenger in a car accident on the eve of the Genesis Open that killed the driver. He returned to action three weeks later in Tampa, and he tied for seventh at the RBC Heritage in April. But that remains his lone top-10 finish of the season. Haas has missed 11 cuts including three in a row.

While the bubble will be a fluid target this week at Sedgefield, Garcia likely needs at least a top-20 finish to move into the top 125 while Haas will likely need to finish inside the top 5.

One of the 13 playoff streaks is assured of ending next week, as Luke Donald has missed most of the year with a back injury. Other players to qualify for every Tour postseason include Phil Mickelson, Matt Kuchar, Zach Johnson, Adam Scott, Bubba Watson, Justin Rose, Brandt Snedeker, Charles Howell III, Charley Hoffman and Ryan Moore.

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Airlines lose two sets of Olesen's clubs in 10 days

By Grill Room TeamAugust 15, 2018, 7:50 pm

Commercial airlines losing the golf clubs of a professional golfer is not exactly a groundbreaking story. It happens.

But European Tour pro Thorbjorn Olesen is on quite the roll, losing two sets of clubs and five suitcases in the span of 10 days.

Olesen, the reigning Italian Open champ, claimed his primary set of golf clubs were lost last week. Having little faith they'd be found before this week's Nordea Masters, he decided to bring his backup set for the event in Sweden.

A veteran move by the 28-year-old, unless, of course, those clubs were lost too. And wouldn't you know it:

After pestering the airlines with some A+ GIFs, Olesen was reunited with at least one of his sets and was back in action on Wednesday.

He also still plans on giving his golf bag away to some lucky follower, provided it's not lost again in transit. Something he's no longer taking for granted.

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Podcast: Brandel compares Tiger and Hogan's comebacks

By Golf Channel DigitalAugust 15, 2018, 6:48 pm

Tiger Woods on Sunday at Bellerive recorded his seventh runner-up finish in a major and his first in nine years.

A favorite guest of the Golf Channel Podcast, Brandel Chamblee joins host Will Gray to compare and contrast Tiger's return to competitive golf with that of Ben Hogan and Babe Didrikson Zaharias in the 1950s.

Chamblee also discusses Brooks Koepka's major dominance, Bellerive as a major venue, Tiger and Phil as Ryder Cup locks, and who else might be in line to receive Jim Furyk and Thomas Bjorn's remaining captain's picks.

Finally, Brandel shares what it was it was like to qualify for the Senior Open Championship and compete for a major title on the Old Course at St. Andrews. Listen here: