Drama Class Is In

By Jerry FoltzDecember 2, 2002, 5:00 pm
Tis the season. Oh how I love the 'season.' Holidays, indulgent feasts, visits from relatives (OK, not everything about the holidays is perfect), and gifts, lots and lots of gifts.
 
And if you happen to be a golf commentator, and if you happen to like drama, and if you happen to work for The Golf Channel, then the holiday season brings one superb gift ' Q-School.
 
Sometimes as a commentator, you have to dig for relevant things to add during coverage of regular season tournaments. Sometimes its especially difficult during the early-round coverage. In other words, sometimes I actually have to work, do research, and attempt to be creative. Well, Ho Ho Ho, not this week.
 
At Q-School, the story tells itself. Even though its impossible to predict who, what, when, and where the drama will happen, rest assured it WILL happen. Whether its Cliff Kresge falling into a lake, Tim ONeal triple-bogeying the final hole to miss the PGA Tour by two shots (both of which happened in 2000), or Roland Thatcher needing a par on the final hole to realize his lifelong dream - only to find his approach shot on the roof of the clubhouse (2001) - its going to happen.
 
Q-School stories become legendary through the years. Just about every locker-room story of golfs ability to cruelly and unusually punish will invariably end in someones recollection of some particularly gruesome Q-School carnage. The tragedies are virtually endless. The odds of this type of history repeating itself this year are higher than Annikas winning percentage. And odds are exactly what Q-School is all about.
 
The only way to beat the odds at Q-School is to not enter. Save the $4,000 entry fee and take a trip to Vegas, buy lottery tickets, or get a deal on Enron stock. Anything but Q-School.
 
Can you imagine 1,300 aspiring Tiger-beaters who have ponied up the dough for the opportunity to be completely miserable for six days and six very, very long nights? Of those 1,300 entrants, only 171 were lucky enough to advance to the finals. The odds already stink. Of these 171, only 35 (and ties) will complete a successful Q-School campaign. The overall odds: 1 in 37. But it gets better.
 
If youre one of those ridiculously lucky 35, then you get the chance to play on the PGA Tour and live happily ever after, right? Not so quick.
 
Of the 36 graduates from last years Q-School, only 10 finished in the top 125 on the money list and kept their card. Another six finished between 126-150 and kept some minimal status. But 20 ended the year with nothing, and 26 are right back where they were a year ago - on the way to Q-School.
 
But really, just how tough can this Q-School thing be? I mean, all the good players are already on tour or have graduated from this years Buy.com Tour. Q-School is just a bunch of dreamers who really cant be that tough to beat, right? Think about it, last year a kid who gets carded for R-rated movies got his PGA Tour Card. A piece of cake for a good player right? Sure'whatever you need to tell yourself.
 
Of the 171 players at finals, 19 are PGA Tour champions already. Theyve combined for 51 official victories. Eleven players have played in the PGA Tour Championship ' you know, that year-end tournament signifying extreme talent and consistency throughout a year. 59 players in the field have combined for 88 victories on the Nationwide (formerly Buy.com/Nike/Hogan Tour), and nine players have won on both tours. Theres even representation from the past Ryder Cup competitions and a U.S. Open champion. And thats not even counting the hordes of talented players who werent fortunate enough to advance to finals.

 
Q-School is hell ' period. Its not so much about accomplishment, its about survival. Every player in the field has spent the better part of their lives dreaming about playing on the PGA Tour. All those endless hours playing around as a kid thinking that this next putt or that next chip was for some Tour title. First, junior tournaments, then high school golf, followed by college. Everything that youve ever worked toward for your entire life is at stake this one week. But thats not even the cruel part.
 
The cruel part is that if you dont get it done this year, you only have to wait another year for the chance to do it all again.
 
Actually, nobody leaves Q-School finals empty-handed. Every player who advances to finals is guaranteed at least some minimal status on next years Nationwide Tour. But thats another story of odds. Thats a year-long grind trying to earn one of only 15 spots on the following years PGA Tour.
 
Playing in Q-School can certainly be a nightmare, trust me here, I speak from experience.
 
In my very first Q-School final in 1990, I dumped it into the water on the second-to-last hole, made double bogey, and missed my card by two shots. What a horrible break I got on that par-3. I had a bad lie on the tee.
 
As nightmarish as it can be for the players, the truth is that it makes for some incredibly good TV. And as much as I enjoy broadcasting Q-School, thats not even the best part of the week.
 
As golfers, weve all idolized somebody. My hero was always Arnie; for others its Jack, or Trevino, or Hogan, or Tiger.
 
But as a commentator, I also have idols. And being an on-course commentator, theres only one godfather, one person to idolize. Theres one man whose nickname is synonymous with, and responsible for, inventing on-course commentary and hell be working with us this week. And ironically his most famous quote is eerily fitting this one cruel week. Although he uses it in describing a single particular shot, it could apply to the whole Q-School process.
 
'Hes got no shot.'
 
Well said, Rossy.
 

Getty Images

Weather extends Barbasol to Monday finish

By Associated PressJuly 23, 2018, 12:25 am

NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - A thunderstorm has suspended the fourth round of the PGA Tour's Barbasol Championship until Monday morning.

Sunday's third stoppage of play at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came with the four leaders - Hunter Mahan, Robert Streb, Tom Lovelady and Troy Merritt at 18 under par - and four other contenders waiting to begin the round.

The tournament will resume at 7:30 a.m. on Monday. Lightning caused one delay, and play was stopped earlier in the afternoon to clear water that accumulated on the course following a morning of steady and sometimes-heavy rain.

Inclement weather has plagued the tournament throughout the weekend. The second round was completed Saturday morning after being suspended by thunderstorms late Friday afternoon.

The resumption will mark the PGA Tour's second Monday finish this season. Jason Day won the Farmers Insurance Open in January after darkness delayed the sixth playoff hole, and he needed just 13 minutes to claim the victory.

Getty Images

Watch: Spectator films as Woods' shot hits him

By Will GrayJuly 23, 2018, 12:07 am

It was a collision watched by millions of fans on television, and one that came at a pivotal juncture as Tiger Woods sought to win The Open. It also gave Colin Hauck the story of a lifetime.

Hauck was among dozens of fans situated along the left side of the 11th hole during the final round at Carnoustie as the pairing of Woods and Francesco Molinari hit their approach shots. After 10 holes of nearly flawless golf, Woods missed the fairway off the tee and then pulled his iron well left of the target.

The ball made square contact with Hauck, who hours later tweeted a video showing the entire sequence - even as he continued to record after Woods' shot sent him tumbling to the ground:

The bounce initially appeared fortuitous for Woods, as his ball bounded away from thicker rough and back toward the green. But an ambitious flop shot came up short, and he eventually made a double bogey to go from leading by a shot to trailing by one. He ultimately shot an even-par 71, tying for sixth two shots behind Molinari.

For his efforts as a human shield, Hauck received a signed glove and a handshake from Woods - not to mention a firsthand video account that will be sure to spark plenty of conversations in the coming years.

Getty Images

Molinari retirement plan: coffee, books and Twitter

By Will GrayJuly 22, 2018, 9:35 pm

After breaking through for his first career major, Francesco Molinari now has a five-year exemption on the PGA Tour, a 10-year exemption in Europe and has solidified his standing as one of the best players in the world.

But not too long ago, the 35-year-old Italian was apparently thinking about life after golf.

Shortly after Molinari rolled in a final birdie putt to close out a two-shot victory at The Open, fellow Tour player Wesley Bryan tweeted a picture of a note that he wrote after the two played together during the third round of the WGC-HSBC Champions in China in October. In it, Bryan shared Molinari's plans to retire as early as 2020 to hang out at cafes and "become a Twitter troll":

Molinari is active on the social media platform, with more than 5,600 tweets sent out to nearly 150,000 followers since joining in 2010. But after lifting the claret jug at Carnoustie, it appears one of the few downsides of Molinari's victory is that the golf world won't get to see the veteran turn into a caffeinated, well-read troll anytime soon.

Getty Images

Molinari had previously avoided Carnoustie on purpose

By Rex HoggardJuly 22, 2018, 9:17 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Sometimes a course just fits a player’s eye. They can’t really describe why, but more often than not it leads to solid finishes.

Francesco Molinari’s relationship with Carnoustie isn’t like that.

The Italian played his first major at Carnoustie, widely considered the toughest of all The Open venues, in 2007, and his first impression hasn’t really changed.

“There was nothing comforting about it,” he said on Sunday following a final-round 69 that lifted him to a two-stroke victory.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


In fact, following that first exposure to the Angus coast brute, Molinari has tried to avoid Carnoustie, largely skipping the Dunhill Links Championship, one of the European Tour’s marquee events, throughout his career.

“To be completely honest, it's one of the reasons why I didn't play the Dunhill Links in the last few years, because I got beaten up around here a few times in the past,” he said. “I didn't particularly enjoy that feeling. It's a really tough course. You can try and play smart golf, but some shots, you just have to hit it straight. There's no way around it. You can't really hide.”

Molinari’s relative dislike for the layout makes his performance this week even more impressive considering he played his last 37 holes bogey-free.

“To play the weekend bogey-free, it's unthinkable, to be honest. So very proud of today,” he said.