New Q-School plans starting to take shape

By Doug FergusonDecember 7, 2011, 12:27 am

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Big dreams and a little luck can go a long way in golf, though this much should be clear about the 160 players who finished Q-School, and the 27 players who walked away with a full-time job on the PGA Tour:

They all believed they were good enough to compete at the highest level.

That part shouldn’t change, even as the Tour moves closer to revamping Q-School as we’ve come to know it for nearly 50 years.

If everything goes according to schedule, next December will be the last time that Q-School will earn anyone a ticket straight to the PGA Tour.

The final pieces are starting to come together in a plan that would merge the top 75 players from the Nationwide Tour with the 75 players from the PGA Tour who failed to qualify for the FedEx Cup playoffs. They would play a three-tournament series, and the top 50 would earn PGA Tour cards. The rest could go back to Q-School to try to earn status on the Nationwide Tour.

It’s a revolutionary plan, and not very popular among traditionalists.

While it strengthens the Nationwide Tour, and tries to ensure that only the best players reach the big leagues, the PGA Tour is eliminating the dreamers who have provided so much charm to the most grueling week in golf at Q-School.

This week alone, the 27 winners at Q-School included a guy who played his last five holes in 5 under par to earn his PGA Tour card, and a 38-year-old who, only a few years ago, was working on a farm in North Carolina to pay the bills. There’s always someone who endured a family tragedy or a health scare, who was driving a delivery truck or working in a pizza restaurant to pay for a chance to play golf for a living. Only the names change. Those stories are as cool now as they were when Q-School began in 1965.

And that’s what makes Steve Stricker, who is on the PGA Tour policy board, pause when considering the change.

“I would like to see them keep a few more spots – maybe 10 spots or something like that,” Stricker said. “I still think it would be nice if somebody had the opportunity to get a quick turn on Tour. I believe, though, it’s going to be better for a better player. It’s going to bring out talent over a longer period of time. If I was a good player, I would love to have the whole year to prove myself for 50 spots.”

While the details are still being discussed, the plan is starting to take shape.

Tour officials believe they have a solution for the amateurs (mostly college players) who no longer have a chance to earn their card at Q-School, like Rickie Fowler last year and Dustin Johnson in 2007. And it would keep these rising stars from having to skip the U.S. Amateur or Walker Cup.

One idea is to apply whatever money they earn as amateurs to the money list, even though they still don’t get paid. Call it fake money.

UCLA sophomore Patrick Cantlay, for example, would have earned $343,088 in four PGA Tour events he played this summer. That money would have put him around No. 155 on the money list, meaning he would qualify for the three-tournament series that awards 50 Tour cards. That would allow amateurs to accept exemptions at any time of the year, such as Bay Hill, which offers a spot to the U.S. Amateur champion.

If not, the Tour fears college players would turn pro after the NCAA championship in late spring.

As for the three-tournament series, the last thing the Tour wants is another points system like the FedEx Cup. The idea getting most of the attention is to base it off Nationwide Tour earnings.

The top 25 from the Nationwide Tour money list – players who previously would have automatically earned PGA Tour cards – would be seeded No. 1 through No. 25. The next seed would be shared by No. 26 on the Nationwide money list and No. 126 on the PGA Tour money list. The PGA Tour player would be assigned the same money as his counterpart from the Nationwide Tour.

Some of the early calculations have shown that top 25 would be virtually assured of finishing among the top 50 to earn their cards; and that anyone winning one of those three tournaments also would be a lock to earn a card.

The Tour wants to start this in the fall of 2013. After that three-tournament series ends, the new season would start with what used to be the Fall Series.

Jim Furyk goes on the policy board next year. What concerns him is that the players who earn cards out of Q-School in 2012 will have only eight months to try to get into the FedEx Cup playoffs and keep their cards; they no longer would have the Fall Series to help them.

“I’m torn with the proposals out there,” Furyk said. “Because there are going to be situations – injuries, different things – that happen that don’t give you an opportunity to get back on Tour. I’m worried about blending the Nationwide and the regular Tour together. The first year we do this, the rookies and first-timers get an extremely short season.

“I know the Tour has an idea what they want to accomplish, but I don’t think they have all the details yet,” he said. “And I’m a details guy.”

The overhaul seems to be inevitable, though. Next year is likely to be the last that players with big dreams can have a great week or a great finish, and the reward will be a job on the PGA Tour.

What won’t change is that the best players will find a way.

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Watch: Is this the up-and-down of the year?

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 19, 2018, 3:30 pm

Play away from the pin? Just because there's a tree in your way? Not Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano. Watch him channel some Arnie (or, more appropriately, some Seve) with this shot in the Valderrama Masters:

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Cut Line: Farewell to the mouth that roared

By Rex HoggardOctober 19, 2018, 2:06 pm

In this week’s edition we bid farewell to the most outspoken and insightful analyst of his generation and examine a curious new interpretation that will require players to start paying attention to the small print.

Made Cut

Here’s Johnny. After nearly three decades Johnny Miller will hang up his microphone following next year’s Waste Management Phoenix Open.

Miller called his first tournament as NBC Sports/Golf Channel’s lead analyst in 1990 at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic and he told Cut Line this week that at 71 years old he’s ready to relax and spend time with his 24 grandchildren.

“I was the first guy with an open microphone,” Miller said. “That requires a lot of concentration. It’s not that I couldn’t do it but the handwriting was on the wall; it would be more of a challenge.”

Miller will be missed for his insight as much as his often-blunt deliveries, but it’s the latter that made him one of a kind.

A long ride to the right place. After nearly four years of legal wrangling a group of PGA Tour caddies dropped their class-action lawsuit against the circuit this week.

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in early 2015 in an attempt by the caddies to secure marketing rights for the bibs they wear during tournaments as a way to create better healthcare and retirement benefits.

The district court largely ruled against the caddies and that ruling was upheld by an appeals court earlier this year, but better healthcare options may still be in the cards for the caddies.

“I told the guys, if we really want a healthy working relationship with the Tour, we need to fix this and open the lines of communication,” said Scott Sajtinac, the president of the Association of Professional Tour Caddies.

Sajtinac told Cut Line that the Tour has offered a potential increase to the longtime stipend they give caddies for healthcare and in a statement the circuit said talks are ongoing.

“The PGA Tour looks forward to continuing to support the caddies in the important role they play in the success of our members,” the statement said.

It’s rare when both sides of a lawsuit walk away feeling good about themselves, but this particular outcome appears to have ended with a favorable outcome for everybody involved.


Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

A long haul. Tiger Woods acknowledged what many had speculated about, telling a group this week at his annual Tiger Woods Invitational at Pebble Beach that his season-ending push and his first victory in five years took a physical toll at the Ryder Cup.

“It was just a cumulative effect of the entire season,” Woods said on Tuesday. “I was tired because I hadn’t trained for it. I hadn’t trained this entire comeback to play this much golf and on top of that deal with the heat and the fatigue and the loss of weight.”

Woods went 0-4 for the U.S. team in France and appeared particularly tired on Sunday following the European victory at Le Golf National.

For Woods the result was worth the effort with his victory at the Tour Championship ending a five-year drought, but his play and concession that it impacted him at the Ryder Cup does create some interesting questions for U.S. captain Jim Furyk, who sent Woods out for both team sessions on Saturday.

Tweet(s) of the week: @BobEstesPGA (Bob Estes) “I spoke to a past Ryder Cup captain yesterday. We both agreed that there should be a week off before the [Ryder Cup] to adequately rest and prepare.”

Given Woods’ comments this week it seems likely he would agree that a break – which may become the norm with the Tour season ending three weeks earlier – would be helpful, but Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts had a slightly different take in response to Estes’ tweet. “I’m afraid a different schedule wasn’t gonna make the fairways wider. On that particular course with how we played, [the United States] had absolutely no chance. Hasn’t more than half the euros played playoffs too?” Colsaerts tweeted.

It’s never too early to get a jump on the 2020 trash talking.


Missed Cut

By the book. The USGA and R&A’s most recent rulemaking hill involved the use of green-reading materials. On Monday the game’s rule-makers unveiled new interpretations on what will be allowed starting next year.

Out will be the legal-sized reams of information that had become ubiquitous on Tour, replaced by pocket-sized books that will include a limited scale (3/8 inch to 5 yards).

While the majority of those involved were in favor of a scaled-back approach to what to many seemed like information overload, it did seem like a curious line to draw.

Both sides of the distance debate continue to await which way the rule-makers will go on this front and, at least in the United States, participation continues to be a challenge.

Banning the oversized green-reading books may have been a positive step, but it was a micro issue that impacted a wildly small portion of the golf public. Maybe it’s time for the rule-makers to start looking at more macro issues.

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S.Y. Kim leads Kang, A. Jutanugarn in Shanghai

By Associated PressOctober 19, 2018, 10:24 am

SHANGHAI  -- Sei Young Kim led the LPGA Shanghai by one stroke at the halfway point after shooting a 5-under-par 67 in the second round on Friday.

Kim made six birdies, including four straight from the sixth hole, to move to a 10-under 134 total. Her only setback was a bogey on the par-4 15th.

Kim struggled in the first half of the year, but is finishing it strong. She won her seventh career title in July at the Thornberry Creek Classic, was tied for fourth at the Women's British Open, and last month was runner-up at the Evian Championship.

''I made huge big par putts on 10, 11, 12,'' Kim said on Friday. ''I'm very happy with today's play.''

Danielle Kang (68) and overnight leader Ariya Jutanugarn (69) were one shot back.


Buick LPGA Shanghai: Articles, photos and videos


''I like attention. I like being in the final group. I like having crowds,'' Kang said. ''It's fun. You work hard to be in the final groups and work hard to be in the hunt and be the leader and chasing the leaders. That's why we play.''

She led into the last round at the Hana Bank Championship last week and finished tied for third.

Brittany Altomare had six birdies in a bogey-free round of 66, and was tied for fourth with Bronte Law (68) and Brittany Lincicome (68).

Angel Lin eagled the par-5 17th and finished with the day's lowest score of 65, which also included six birdies and a lone bogey.

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'Caveman golf' puts Koepka one back at CJ Cup

By Associated PressOctober 19, 2018, 10:12 am

JEJU ISLAND, South Korea – Brooks Koepka, recently named the PGA Tour Player of the Year, gave himself the perfect opportunity to become the No. 1 player in the world when he shot a 7-under par 65 to move to within one shot of the lead in the CJ Cup on Friday.

At the Nine Bridges course, the three-time major champion made an eagle on his closing hole to finish on 8-under par 136 after two rounds, just one stroke behind Scott Piercy, who was bogey-free in matching Koepka's 65.

With the wind subsiding and the course playing much easier than on the opening day when the scoring average was 73.26, 44 players – more than half the field of 78 – had under-par rounds.

Overnight leader Chez Reavie added a 70 to his opening-round 68 to sit in third place at 138, three behind Piercy. Sweden's Alex Noren was the other player in with a 65, which moved him into a tie for fourth place alongside Ian Poulter (69), four out of the lead.

The best round of the day was a 64 by Brian Harman, who was tied for sixth and five behind Piercy.


Full-field scores from the CJ Cup

CJ Cup: Articles, photos and videos


The 28-year-old Koepka will move to the top of the world rankings when they are announced on Monday if he wins the tournament.

Thomas, playing alongside Koepka, matched Koepka's eagle on the last, but that was only for a 70 and he is tied for 22nd place at 1 under.

Koepka's only bogey was on the par-5 ninth hole, where he hit a wayward tee shot. But he was otherwise pleased with the state of his ''caveman golf.''

''I feel like my game is in a good spot. I feel like the way I played today, if I can carry that momentum into Saturday and Sunday, it will be fun,'' Koepka, winner of the U.S. Open and the PGA Championship, said.

''My game is pretty simple. I guess you can call it like caveman golf – you see the ball, hit the ball and go find it again. You're not going to see any emotion just because I'm so focused, but I'm enjoying it.''

Piercy, who has fallen to No. 252 in the world ranking despite winning the Zurich Classic earlier this year with Billy Horschel – there are no world ranking points for a team event – was rarely out of position in a round in which he found 13 of 14 fairways off the tee and reached 16 greens in regulation.

''Obviously, the wind was down a little bit and from a little bit different direction, so 10 miles an hour wind versus 20s is quite a big difference,'' said Piercy, who is looking for his first individual PGA Tour win since the Barbasol Championship in July 2015.

''It was a good day. Hit a couple close and then my putter showed up and made some putts of some pretty good length.''

Australia's Marc Leishman, winner last week at the CIMB Classic in Kuala Lumpur, shot a 71 and was seven behind. Paul Casey's 73 included a hole-in-one on the par-3 seventh hole and the Englishman is nine behind Piercy.