2012 PGA Tour Q-School graduate capsules

By Rex HoggardDecember 4, 2012, 5:46 pm

LA QUINTA, Calif. – The final PGA Tour Q-School concluded Monday at PGA West with 26 players earning full exempt status in 2013.

Some have played in hundreds of Tour events, others have never before teed it up in the Big Leagues. Here is a detailed look at the players, in order of finish, who successfully earned 2013 PGA Tour cards at Q-School:

Dong-Hwan Lee in the 2012 PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament final roundDong-hwan Lee

Age: 25

Residence: Yong In, South Korea

Comment: After two years of mandatory military service in Korea he’s picked up where he left off and will be part of what is turning into an Asian invasion on the PGA Tour.

Ross FisherRoss Fisher

Age: 32

Residence: Cheam, England

Comment: One of two former European Ryder Cup players, along with Robert Karlsson, to advance out of the final Q-School with direct access to the PGA Tour. Now comes the hard part, devising a schedule to meet the minimum number of starts on both tours within next year’s condensed schedule.

Steve LebrunSteve LeBrun

Age: 34

Residence: West Palm Beach, Fla.

Comment: Longtime mini-tour staple earns his first trip to the Tour. Despite a lack of experience (he has three career starts on the Tour) he has the game to become a top-10 machine.

Richard H. Lee in the 2012 PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament final roundRichard H. Lee

Age: 25

Residence: Scottsdale, Ariz.

Comment: Talked with his swing coach following his third-round 74 and fixed the problem at a lighted driving range late Friday. He did the same thing on Sunday, on the eve of final round, and his moonlighting paid off.

Billy HorschelBilly Horschel

Age: 25

Residence: Jacksonville Beach, Fla.

Comment: Made 15 of 17 cuts on Tour in 2012 and yet still found himself back at Q-School. The answer is simple: improve his final-round scoring average.

Kris BlanksKris Blanks

Age: 40

Residence: Jupiter, Fla.

Comment: Estimated he was 70-percent healthy and may have learned a valuable lesson at his fourth Q-School. Sometimes the answer is not in the dirt on the practice range.

Erik ComptonErik Compton

Age: 33

Residence: Coral Gables, Fla.

Comment: Despite all the talk about his medical history, said this week he’s as strong as he’s ever been and his ability to close strong at PGA West (he carded rounds of 67-67 to finish his week) is a good sign for next season.

Brad FritschBrad Fritsch

Age: 35

Residence: Holly Springs, N.C.

Comment: One of seven Web.com Tour graduates in the final-stage field looking to improve their status for next year. The native Canadian’s tie for seventh may land him one extra start on the West Coast next year which made the Fall Classic worth the effort.

Jin ParkJin Park

Age: 33

Residence: Phoenix, Ariz.

Comment: After five seasons on the Web.com Tour and a fourth trip to final stage, the South Korean gets another crack at the Big Leagues, but he will need to perform this time because there will be no Q-School safety net next year.

Fabian Gomez in the 2012 PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament final roundFabian Gomez

Age: 34

Residence: Chaco, Argentina

Comment: Big finishing weekend (66-66) lifted the Argentine back to the PGA Tour, but he will need to improve driving (109th in driving accuracy and 74th in distance on the Web.com Tour in 2012) to avoid a demotion.

Michael Letzig in the 2012 PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament final roundMichael Letzig

Age: 32

Residence: Kansas City, Mo.

Comment: Humbling few years for Letzig, but his recent work with a sports psychologist helped make the game fun again and a steady week at PGA West will make 2013 profitable.

Jeff Gove at the 2012 PGA Tour Final Qualifying TournamentJeff Gove

Age: 41

Residence: San Marcos, Calif.

Comment: It was the journeyman’s first successful trip through Q-School in nine attempts and he called his tie for 10th “a life changer.”

Steven BowditchSteve Bowditch

Age: 29

Residence: Perigian Beach, Queensland, Australia

Comment: Played last year’s Q-School with a broken hand but avoided a Monday crack up at PGA West. If his putting ever catches up with his ball-striking he could be a threat on Tour.

Matt Jones at the 2012 Puerto Rico OpenMatt Jones

Age: 32

Residence: Scottsdale, Ariz.

Comment: Australian earned his sixth trip back to the Tour, but will need to find more consistency after missing 10 of 19 cuts in 2012.

Robert KarlssonRobert Karlsson

Age: 43

Residence: Charlotte, N.C.

Comment: Tough to consider a two-time European Ryder Cup player a Cinderella story, but considering the Swede withdrew from the British Open in July with the yips, his week at PGA West was a success by any measure.

Eric Meierdierks in the 2012 PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament final roundEric Meierdierks

Age: 27

Residence: Wilmette, Ill.

Comment: Endured an emotional trip through Q-School following the death of his father before first stage, but the late bloomer used the loss to focus and will be a rookie in 2013.

Scott Langley at the 2012 PGA Tour Final Qualifying TournamentScott Langley

Age: 23

Residence: Jupiter, Fla.

Comment: Completed a dream season, that included qualifying for the U.S. Open, with five consecutive rounds in the 60s to earn his first trip to the Tour.

Aaron Watkins at the 2012 PGA Tour Final Qualifying TournamentAaron Watkins

Age: 30

Residence: Mesa, Calif.

Comment: Back on Tour after losing his card in 2009. After three steady seasons on the Web.com Tour he may have the game to stay this time.

Derek ErnstDerek Ernst

Age: 22

Residence: Fresno, Calif.

Comment: One of six players from this year’s class with one or fewer Tour starts, but, like many in the bottom end of this year’s class, he may struggle to get enough starts early.

Si Woo Kim at the 2012 PGA Tour Final Qualifying TournamentSi Woo Kim

Age: 17

Residence: Seoul, South Korea

Comment: Tour regulations will severely limit the teen’s starts next. He cannot become a member until his 18th birthday on June 28 and will have roughly four or five starts to keep his card and qualify for the playoffs.

Tag Ridings at the 2012 PGA Tour Qualifying TournamentTag Ridings

Age: 38

Residence: Keller, Texas

Comment: This will be the veteran’s eighth trip to the Tour, but in his seven previous attempts he finished inside the top 125 in earnings just twice.

Donald ConstableDonald Constable

Age: 23

Residence: Deephaven, Minn.

Comment: One of four players to advance to the Tour all the way from pre-qualifying, but he’s never played a Tour event and may be overwhelmed.

Bobby GatesBobby Gates

Age: 27

Residence: The Woodlands, Texas

Comment: Second consecutive year through Q-School, but he previously failed to finish inside the top 125 and will struggle to get starts in the condensed schedule.

Patrick ReedPatrick Reed

Age: 22

Residence: Spring, Texas

Comment:  He was 6-for-8 in Monday qualifiers on the PGA Tour this year, but now can start focusing on the weekend as a first-year Tour member.

Henrik NorlanderHenrik Norlander

Age: 25

Residence: Augusta, Ga.

Comment: Made transition from the eGolf Tour to the Big Leagues with a solid week at PGA West with the help of his former golf coach at Augusta State on the bag.

Chez ReavieChez Reavie

Age: 31

LA QUINTA, Calif. –Residence: Scottsdale, Ariz.

Comment: The only graduating member with a Tour win to his credit, Reavie is just the second player to participate in the Tour Championship and end up at Q-School the next season. He seemed to find an answer for his putting woes in 2012. Unfortunately, that answer is a belly putter.

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Els: Tiger playing well validates his generation

By Doug FergusonMarch 21, 2018, 12:42 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – Tiger Woods has come close to looking like the player who ruled golf for the better part of 15 years, and Ernie Els is happy to see it.

Never mind that Els was on the losing end to Woods more than any other player.

He speaks for his generation of Phil Mickelson, Vijay Singh and others. Els keeps hearing about the depth of talent being greater than ever, and he has seen it. But he gets weary listening to suggestions that Woods might not have 79 PGA Tour victories if he had to face this group.

''I'm just glad he's playing like I know he can play to validate me – validate me, Phil and Vijay,'' Els said. ''We weren't bad players. This guy was a special player. To see him back, playing special stuff again ... is great for the game.''

Generational debates are nothing new.

Every generation was better than the next one. Then again, Jack Nicklaus used to lament that Woods was lacking competition from players who had more experience winning majors, such as Arnold Palmer and Gary Player, Tom Watson and Lee Trevino, Nick Faldo and Seve Ballesteros.

Mickelson, Els and Singh combined to win 12 majors. Els says Woods won 14 on his own because he was that much better.

Does it get under his skin to hear fans rave about this generation's players?

''It doesn't (tick) me off. Can you imagine how it must (tick) Tiger off?'' he said. ''He was leaps and bounds the best player. People forget very quickly, and then you see special players like we have now, the younger generation. But I know what I played against. You can't take anything away from anybody.''

Doug Ferguson is a golf writer for The Associated Press

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Recovering Thomas thinks Match Play could help cause

By Rex HoggardMarch 20, 2018, 10:07 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – It’s been a tough couple of days for Justin Thomas, and he hasn’t played an event in three weeks.

The world’s second-ranked player had his wisdom teeth removed on March 7 following the WGC-Mexico Championship and has been recovering ever since.

“I'm feeling OK. As funny as it is, as soon as I got over my wisdom teeth, I got a little strep throat,” Thomas said on Tuesday at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play. “I was pretty worried yesterday, to be honest, how I was going to be doing, but I feel a lot better today and just keep taking medicine and hopefully it will be good.”

Thomas, who is listed in the Tour media guide as 5-foot-10, 145 pounds, said he lost about 6 pounds when he had his wisdom teeth removed and has struggled to put that weight back on because of his bout with strep throat.

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As a result, his energy levels are low, which is a particular concern considering the marathon nature of the Match Play, which could include as many as seven rounds if he were to advance to Sunday’s championship match. Thomas, however, said the format could actually make things easier this week.

“I told my dad, I only have to beat one person each day. I don't have to beat the whole field,” said Thomas, who has won just one match in two starts at the Match Play. “If it was stroke play then I may have a little harder time. But hopefully each day I'll get better and better. Who knows, maybe that will help me win a match in this golf tournament, because I've had a pretty hard time in the past.”

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Spieth thought Mickelson blew him off as a kid

By Rex HoggardMarch 20, 2018, 7:50 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – Phil Mickelson is widely recognized as one of the PGA Tour’s most accommodating players when it comes to the fans and signing autographs.

Lefty will famously spend hours after rounds signing autographs, but sometimes perception can deviate from reality, as evidenced by Jordan Spieth’s encounter with Mickelson years ago when he was a junior golfer.

“I think I was at the [AT&T] Byron Nelson with my dad and Phil Mickelson and Davis Love were on the putting green. I was yelling at them, as I now get annoyed while I'm practicing when I'm getting yelled at, and they were talking,” Spieth recalled. “When they finished, Phil was pulled off in a different direction and Davis came and signed for me. And I thought for the longest time that Phil just blew me off. And Davis was like the nicest guy. And Phil, I didn't care for as much for a little while because of that.”

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Entering his sixth full season on Tour, Spieth now has a drastically different perspective on that day.

“[Mickelson] could have been late for media. He could have been having a sponsor obligation. He could have been going over to sign for a kid’s area where there was a hundred of them,” Spieth said. “There's certainly been kids that probably think I've blown them off, too, which was never my intention. It would have never been Phil's intention either.”

Spieth said he has spoken with Mickelson about the incident since joining the Tour.

“He probably responded with a Phil-like, ‘Yeah, I knew who you were, and I didn't want to go over there and sign it,’ something like that,” Spieth laughed. “I’ve gotten to see him in person and really see how genuine he is with everybody he comes in contact with. Doesn't matter who it is. And he's a tremendous role model and I just wasn't aware back then.”

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This week, let the games(manship) begin

By Rex HoggardMarch 20, 2018, 7:47 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – The gentleman’s game is almost entirely devoid of anything even approaching trash talk or gamesmanship.

What’s considered the norm in other sports is strictly taboo in golf - at least that’s the standard for 51 weeks out of the year. That anomaly, however, can be wildly entertaining.

During Monday’s blind draw to determine this week’s 16 pods, Pat Perez was the first to suggest that this week’s WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play is the exception to the stoic rule on the PGA Tour.

“Me and Branden [Grace] played a nine-hole match today and were chirping at each other the entire time,” Perez laughed. “Stuff like, ‘go in the trees.’ We were laughing about it, I didn’t get mad, I hit it in the trees.”

Although Perez and Grace may have been on the extreme end of the trash-talk spectrum, it’s widely understood that unlike the steady diet of stroke-play stops in professional golf, the Match Play and the Ryder Cup are both chances to test some of the game’s boundaries.

“There’s been a couple of different instances, both in the Ryder Cup. I can't share them with you, I'm sorry,” laughed Jordan Spieth, before adding. “I think they [the comments] were indifferent to me and helped [U.S. partner Patrick Reed].

Often the gamesmanship is subtle, so much so an opponent probably doesn’t even realize what’s happening.

Jason Day, for example, is a two-time winner of this event and although he was reluctant to go into details about all of his “tricks,” he did explain his mindset if he finds himself trailing in a match.

“Always walk forward in front of the person that you're playing against, just so you're letting them know that you're pushing forward and you're also letting them know that you're still hanging around,” Day explained. “People feed off body language. If I'm looking across and the guy's got his shoulders slumped and his head is down, you can tell he's getting frustrated, that's when you push a little bit harder.”

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Some moments are not so innocent, as evidenced by a story from Paul Casey from a match during his junior days growing up in England.

“I remember a player’s ball was very close to my line, as his coin was very close to my line and we were still both about 10 feet away and he kind of looked at me,” Casey recalled. “I assumed he looked at me to confirm whether his marker was in my line and it needed to be moved. I said, ‘That's OK there.’ So he picked [his coin] up. And then of course he lost his ability to understand English all of a sudden.”

While the exploits this week won’t be nearly as egregious, there have been a handful of heated encounters at the Match Play. In 2015 when this event was played at Harding Park in San Francisco, Keegan Bradley and Miguel Angel Jimenez went nose to nose when the Spaniard attempted to intervene in a ruling that Bradley was taking and the incident even spilled over into the locker room after the match.

But if those types of encounters are rare, there’s no shortage of mind games that will take place over the next few days at Austin Country Club.

“It's part of it. It should be fun,” Spieth said. “There should be some gamesmanship. That's the way it is in every other sport, we just never play one-on-one or team versus team like other sports do. That's why at times it might seem way out of the ordinary. If every tournament were match play, I don't think that would be unusual.”

It also helps heat things up if opponents have some history together. On Tuesday, Rory McIlroy was asked if he’s run across any gamesmanship at the Match Play. While the Northern Irishman didn’t think there would be much trash talking going on this week, he did add with a wry smile, “Patrick Reed isn’t in my bracket.”

McIlroy and Reed went head-to-head in an epic singles duel at the 2016 Ryder Cup, which the American won 1 up. The duo traded plenty of clutch shots during the match, with Reed wagging his finger at McIlroy following a particularly lengthy birdie putt and McIlroy spurring the crowd with roars of, “I can’t hear you.”

It was an example of how chippy things can get at the Match Play that when McIlroy was asked if he had any advice for Spieth, who drew Reed in his pod this week, his answer had a bit of a sharp edge.

“Don't ask for any drops,” laughed McIlroy, a not-so-subtle reference to Reed’s comment last week at Bay Hill after being denied free relief by a rules official, “I guess my name needs to be Jordan Spieth, guys,” Reed said on Sunday.

Put another way, this is not your grandfather’s game. This is the Match Play where trash talking and gamesmanship are not only acceptable, but can also be extremely entertaining.