A potentially new path to the PGA Tour

By Doug FergusonMarch 23, 2011, 3:24 am

PGA Tour (75x100)ORLANDO, Fla. – Someone’s dream comes true every December.

It could be an All-American from a golf powerhouse or a guy who has been toiling on the mini-tours for longer than he cares to remember. It could be someone as old as Allen Doyle (48) or as young as Ty Tryon (17). Some of them are so choked up they can’t speak. Others are so excited they can’t stop talking.

These are the stories and the emotions of Q-School for those who earn a ticket to the PGA Tour.

And this is what the PGA Tour wants to take away.

“I don’t think I necessarily like that,” J.B. Holmes, speaking from experience. Holmes went straight from Kentucky to the Walker Cup to all three stages of Q-School and had his PGA Tour card. Two months later, he won the Phoenix Open.

And then there’s Rickie Fowler.

He also made it through Q-School on his first try at age 21. Ten months later, he birdied the last four holes at Celtic Manor to earn an improbable halve in a critical singles match at the Ryder Cup.

Why take away an opportunity like that?

Because of all the other stories that don’t have such a happy ending.

“There is some charm to that,” David Duval said of Q-School. “But history shows that romanticism, as attractive as it may be, leads to failure 10 months later when you lose your card and you’re back in the cycle.”

According to the PGA Tour media guide, Q-School has been around since 1965. A record 57 players earned PGA Tour cards in 1983. But as the minor leagues took root, tour officials began taking away the number of cards offered at Q-School and giving more to the top Nationwide players. The thinking was they proved themselves over an entire season.

The next move appears to be radical.

The policy board has given preliminary approval to a concept that essentially would end Q-School as we know it.

At the end of the regular season in Greensboro, N.C., the top 125 in the standings would go to the FedEx Cup playoffs and the money list would be closed for the year.

The next 50 or 75 players would join the top 50 or 75 players from the Nationwide Tour to play the “Finals Series,” comprised of three tournaments that amount to a different kind of playoffs. The top 50 players from those three tournaments would earn their cards for the next season. Consider it 12 rounds of Q-School spread over three weeks.

The pressure could be just as great. The quality of competition would be stronger than ever.

As for Q-School?

It still would be played at the end of the year, but the only cards available would be for the Nationwide Tour. If not for a player’s pride and patience, there shouldn’t be a problem.

Statistics show that players who spend a year on the Nationwide Tour typically are more prepared for the PGA Tour than someone straight out of Q-School. They learn to cope with success and slumps while traveling from week to week. It’s life on the tour, minus the courtesy cars and press coverage.

“I’ve yet to find a serious flaw in it, how it’s not better than what we have,” said Paul Goydos, who is on the policy board. “Is it as romantic and sexy as we had? Maybe not. More efficient? Yeah. We get caught up in the idea that we’re losing a piece of golf tradition that we’ve had our whole lives. But all I’ve ever heard players talk about (Q-School) was that it was torture.”

Among the countless details for the tour to work out is this harrowing prospect – if a player goes through all three stages of Q-School, then wins a record amount of money to lead the Nationwide Tour the next year, he still is not guaranteed a spot on the PGA Tour. He could hit a bad patch during the three-event series and have to start over.

The tour needs an umbrella sponsor for its developmental tour after 2012, and this would make it more appealing. That said, the tour has been looking at the merits of Q-School and the Nationwide Tour long before Nationwide decided to end its sponsorship.

The tour still is providing players a shot at the PGA Tour – just not right away.

Fowler and Jamie Lovemark lost in a playoff at the Frys.com Open toward the end of 2009. One of them went on to earn his card at Q-School (and play in the Ryder Cup), the other went to the Nationwide Tour and led the money list.

Under the proposal, both would have been on the Nationwide Tour.

“Obviously, I was trying to make the PGA Tour, but what I wanted was a place to play,” Fowler said. “Look at Jamie. He found his way here, he just took a side route. I wouldn’t have been upset playing the Nationwide Tour.”

Even so, there’s a stigma about the Nationwide Tour. It’s about settling for second best.

Bill Haas was so disappointed at not making it out of Q-School in 2004 that he said, “I think if I have to play there more than four or five years, I’ll quit golf.”

He played one full year, earned his card through Q-School and has been on the PGA Tour ever since.

One way or another, the best will get through.

Duval was one of the best players of his generation, yet he failed to get through Q-School. After one year on what was then the Nike Tour, he had three runner-up finishes and was 11th on the PGA Tour money list as a rookie.

He is not surprised by the outrage over the potential for something new. Golf, perhaps more than any sport, is slow to embrace change.

“We play a game long on traditions,” Duval said.

No matter how this shakes out, he only wants to make sure one tradition doesn’t change.

“As long as the low score still wins.”

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Hataoka leads Minjee Lee by one at LPGA Volvik

By Associated PressMay 26, 2018, 12:54 am

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - After losing in a playoff last weekend, Nasa Hataoka is making another bid for her first LPGA Tour victory.

Hataoka shot a 4-under 68 on Friday, and the Japanese teenager led by one stroke over Minjee Lee after the second round of the Volvik Championship. Hataoka, who is coming off the first two top-10 finishes of her LPGA career, made seven birdies at Travis Pointe Country Club. She began her round on No. 10, and her best stretch came toward the end, when she birdied Nos. 4, 5 and 6.

''I'm really comfortable playing the LPGA,'' the 19-year-old Hataoka said through a translator. ''I've really got confidence now.''

Hataoka made the cut nine times in 17 starts as a rookie in 2017, and she has made significant strides of late. She tied for seventh at last month's MEDIHEAL Championship and nearly won a week ago at the Kingsmill Championship in Virginia.

Hataoka finished the second round in Michigan at 9 under. Lee (69) was also solid Friday. Gaby Lopez (68), Jodi Ewart Shadoff (70) and Lindy Duncan (70) were a stroke behind Lee in a tie for third.

Hataoka did not make a single bogey in last week's three-round tournament, and she didn't have any in the first round in Michigan. She finally made a few Friday, but that didn't stop her from taking sole possession of the lead.

''I kind of feel like not really perfect, but I just kind of try to (be) aggressive,'' she said.

Full-field scores from the LPGA Volvik Championship

Lee, who lost by one stroke on this course last year, is in contention again.

''I guess the fairways are pretty generous and I think the greens are a little bit on the trickier side to read,'' Lee said. ''As long as your iron shots are pretty solid, I think you're going to be in good position around this golf course.''

Lee birdied the first two holes, and the only blemish on her scorecard Friday came on the par-5 14th. After missing the fairway to the right, she hit an aggressive shot out of the rough that went straight toward a water hazard well in front of the green. She settled for a bogey after taking a drop.

''I thought the ball was sitting OK in the rough, but it must have been a bit funny, or underneath it,'' she said. ''I made a mistake. I thought it was good enough to hit 3-wood there.''

Lee lost last year in Michigan to Shanshan Feng, but Feng will have some ground to make up in her attempt to repeat. She shot 69 on Friday but is still eight strokes behind the leader.

Ariya Jutanugarn was 6 under after a second consecutive 69.

Lopez made only six pars in the second round, tied for the fewest of the day, but her eight birdies and four bogeys put her near the top of the leaderboard.

''It was a little bit of an up and down,'' she said. ''There's so many opportunities out here to make birdie, that the most important thing to do is just to be patient, to be in the moment and not to get ahead of yourself. I think I came back from a couple mistakes that I did.''

In contrast to Lopez, Brittany Lincicome parred all 18 holes Friday and made the cut at 1 under. Paula Creamer (71) triple bogeyed the par-4 13th. She followed that with an eagle on the very next hole but missed the cut by a stroke.

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Childhood rivals share Sr. PGA lead

By Associated PressMay 26, 2018, 12:00 am

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. - Kevin Sutherland and Scott McCarron have been rivals since their junior golf days around Sacramento, California. The two old friends were back at it Friday at the top of the Senior PGA Championship leaderboard.

''It's honestly, nothing new for us,'' said Sutherland who played in the third-to-last group and birdied his last two holes for a 5-under 66 to match McCarron at 8 under.

McCarron had a 68 in the morning wave to emerge from a championship record group of six tied for the first-round lead.

Sutherland was last year's Charles Schwab Cup winner with his only senior win coming in the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship, while McCarron has six PGA Tour Champions wins, including a major at the 2017 Senior Players Championship.

''We are both (Northern California) guys, played in high school, junior golf, on tour and it seems like a lot on the Champions Tour,'' Sutherland said. ''We were in the last group on Sundays a lot last year. Scott played so well and had an incredible year, and I had a great year, too.''

Sutherland's lone PGA Tour victory came at McCarron's expense in 2002 at La Costa in the Accenture Match Play Championship, when he beat McCarron 1 up in the 36-hole final. As youngsters they played on opposing high school teams located about an hour apart and met often in state tournaments as well as on the California junior circuit.

''It's been happening for 30 years, wait 35 years now, I guess,'' Sutherland said. ''Playing together on a Saturday is a little different. We're both still trying to get in position to win.''

Jerry Kelly shot a 65 to join Tim Petrovic (69), Chris Williams (68) and Joe Durant (67) at 7 under. Durant tied for second last week in the Regions Tradition, also a major championship.

Full-field scores from the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship

McCarron feels like he is just starting to warm to the task this year. He had to replace his clubs, including a favored putter damaged beyond repair in air transit two months ago.

''I've been putting with a back-up putter I had, but it just didn't feel quite right,'' he said. ''I changed last Sunday at the Regions Tradition and started putting better on Sunday. So I'm using this one again this week and seem to be putting pretty good with it.''

McCarron said the Harbor Shores course played a little tougher in light winds in the second round. He made six birdies and three bogeys.

''I would just like to have a couple of those bogeys back,'' he said. ''But we're in a good position going into the weekend.''

McCarron came to the press center after his round and walked in on a press conference where course-designer Jack and Barbara Nicklaus were being honored by sponsoring KitchenAid with the establishment of a local college scholarship program in their name.

McCarron, who said he has idolized Nicklaus since his youth, played media and asked Nicklaus what he ate when he was near the lead going into the weekend of a major championship.

Nicklaus said if you play well one day, eat the same thing the next day.

''But no hamburgers, or you will play like hamburger,'' he said.

Stuart Smith, the Reno, Neveda, club pro who was tied for the lead after the first round, missed the 36-hole cut with a second-round 83.

''I'll take the 66, 83 and enjoy the 66 yesterday,'' he said. ''You put this one down to just plain old golf. It's a nasty game we play sometimes. Glad I have a day job.''

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Wise, Simpson both miss cut at Colonial

By Nick MentaMay 25, 2018, 11:34 pm

The two most recent winners on the PGA Tour, Aaron Wise and Webb Simpson, missed the cut at the Fort Worth Invitational on Friday.

Wise and Simpson both came up short of the 2-over total by a shot following rounds of 70-73.

Wise was safely inside the number before playing his last four holes in 4 over par with two bogeys and a closing double following a trip into the water at the par-4 ninth.

Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

Simpson, making his first start following his Players triumph, similarly struggled coming home, bogeying three of his final six holes.

Other notables who won't be around for the weekend at Colonial include Xander Schauffele (+4), Jason Dufner (+5), Patrick Cantlay (+6), Smylie Kaufman (+13), and Sam Burns (+13).

This is Kaufman's 11th consecutive MC and his 15th in his last 16 starts.

Jason Seaman and Kristi Hubly Seaman

Sr. PGA caddie learns of nephew's heroism in school shooting

By Tim RosaforteMay 25, 2018, 10:33 pm

Tracy Hubly caddied for her husband, club pro Chris Starkjohann, on Friday at the KitchenAid Senior PGA and learned after their round that her nephew was credited with helping stop the school shooting at Noblesville West Middle School in Indiana.

Jason Seaman, a 29-year-old science instructor and seventh grade football coach at the school, took three bullets but survived as what his aunt called a hero.

“You hear the stories about these shootings and I think about Parkland and the officer that was trained but didn’t go into the school,” Hubly said. “It’s really shocking to think it comes close to your family, but it does."

It’s not unusual for Hubly to caddie for her husband, a teacher at Carlsbad Golf Center and coach of a PGA Junior League program in Southern California. Hubly, who works in the pro shop at Emerald Island Golf Course in Oceanside, Calif., was on the bag when he was low golf professional at the 2009 Senior PGA Championship held at Canterbury GC. 

Starkjohann, 61, missed the cut at Harbor Shores with rounds of 76-79—155 and was heading to the Colorado State Open.

 “I didn’t hear about it until after my round was done,” Starkjohann said. “Everything happened after I got in.”