The Unpromised Land

By Jon LevyNovember 29, 2010, 5:10 pm
PGA Tour (75x100)

ORLANDO, Fla. – It’s touted as the most dramatic, gut-wrenching, time-to-throw-it-all-on-the-line tournament in professional golf: PGA Tour Q-School. Every fall, hundreds of hopefuls tee it up in three stages (four for those going through a pre-qualifying stage) of a show-up-or-shut-up test that culminates in a six-round marathon finale, yielding just 25 PGA Tour cards.

In a marketing sense, it’s the ultimate sellable story – play for your job or wait a year to try it again.

But the reality? It's more pressure-filled than TV and most media dictate, and here’s why: Past the top 25 finishers and ties who earn PGA Tour privileges for the following year, the next number of finishers closest to 50 earn full Nationwide Tour status.

After that, it’s conditional status only, and that’s where the real fun – or frustration – starts.

First off, take those players who already enter finals week with some PGA Tour or Nationwide Tour status out of the equation. They're there for improvement purposes only and it's not uncommon to see a lot of them withdraw halfway through the week if they don't think they can do that.

Coverage of the final stage of PGA Tour Q-School begins with the fourth round, Saturday at 1 p.m. ET on Golf Channel.
Pressure? Sure, this type of player feels it in the fact that there's always a lot riding on any tournament – especially this one – but having at least some safety net to fall back on is better than the alternative of heading back to the pay-for-play events on the mini-tours.

Pressure is when you walk away from finals with a “number” – partial status otherwise known as conditional on the Nationwide circuit, with a designated number based from Q-School finish below those who earn full cards. In this case, chances are your chances to keep your Nationwide card the following year go plummeting down.

Why? Because of the Tour’s intricate and complex prioritization of filtering in an overabundance of players – past champions, those fitting into different money list categories, PGA Tour players relegated to a Nationwide event after failing to get into a coinciding Tour event, etc. –  into limited starting fields, with the conditional players at the bottom of the heap.

It makes for golf’s version of the clown car – too many guys, not enough room.

The formula is complicated – so much so that trying to explain it without a few scheduled bathroom breaks wouldn’t bode well – but it can be boiled down to the simple math that any player having a “number” won’t get nearly the starts as a full member. Add in the rule that conditional players are not eligible for Wednesday pro-ams, operate under a different benefits program and ultimately cannot set a definitive schedule, the difference between the last full Nationwide card earner and the first conditional card earner is much more significant than the simple one-shot difference after six rounds of golf.

John Douma shot 1 under at finals last December to tie for 78th, one shot shy of earning his full Nationwide Tour card. And by way of scorecard playoff – through a birdie on the final hole – he scored the lucky first conditional card. That got him 17 starts, $12,718 and a 166th money list rank.

Granted, Douma fought a neck injury 14 events into the season on top of poor play, but you get the point.

But after playing in five of the first six events on the ’10 schedule and missing every cut, come the first “reshuffle,” his number slipped downward and he finished the season teeing it up in just 12 of the final 21 events.

Reshuffle? Every six events, based on the money list, the Tour reshuffles the status – or numbers – of each player, which determines the priority of earning starts until the next reshuffle, when the process starts all over again.

In the conditional case of Douma, since his number had changed, so did his schedule. Not only was he on track for fewer starts at that point, but he put more pressure on himself because of the limited opportunities to get into events and move up the money list.

“It was by far the worst mental year of my life,” says Douma, a multiple winner and longtime player on the Gateway Pro Tour in Arizona. “Every week I was basically using my tee-up money (money earned through club manufacturer agreements) and off-site pro-ams to get me through to pay for expenses.

“It was rough. I obviously didn’t play well aside from my injury, but I made $12,000 and spent 70. After 11 straight Q-Schools and to make it to finals on the 12th try, I’m right back again at Square One.”

Some way to live out your dream. And he’s not alone.

Take Chris Kamin, who finished T-98, four shots off of the full-card pace; Dustin White, who finished T-108, six shots away, and Nathan Tyler, who finished T-139, 13 shots away from full status: with each extra shot taken at Q-School finals, starts can dwindle dramatically. Kamin played in just 14 events (with $34,284 in earnings), White in only four (with $5,443 in earnings) and Tyler in five (with $8,240 in earnings), seeing none of the three play before the BMW Charity Pro-Am – the ninth event of the season.

Don’t get this reasoning wrong – play well and all is forgotten. All four players didn’t get the job done this year.

And there’s always Monday qualifying to make your own destiny before your number is called. Many have made their way up the Nationwide Tour money list and even onto the PGA Tour that way.

But the difference between the Haves and Have-nots, in a game that already puts players close to the edge mentally in the most perfect of circumstances, is huge.

If you can guarantee when and where you’re playing, you’ve at least got part of the riddle solved.

Better benefits? The luxury of Wednesday pro-ams to make a little extra cash?

Sure, that doesn’t hurt, either. But in a game where your job can change from clerk to owner to clerk again, on any given birdie- or bogey-run, every guarantee is gravy.

And that’s why, aside from the players you’ll see pouring their hearts out in the post-round interview because they just earned their PGA Tour cards, or narrowly missed, it’s those players you may not see or read about – the guys right around that cusp of earning full Nationwide status – who are really feeling it.

Getty Images

The Open 101: A guide to the year's third major

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 16, 2018, 9:30 am

Take a look at some answers to frequently asked questions about The Open:

What's all this "The Open" stuff? I thought it was the British Open.

What you call it has historically depended on where you were. If you were in the U.S., you called it the British Open, just as Europeans refer to the PGA Championship as the U.S. PGA. Outside the U.S. it generally has been referred to as The Open Championship. The preferred name of the organizers is The Open.

How old is it?

It's the oldest golf championship, dating back to 1860.

Where is it played?

There is a rotation – or "rota" – of courses used. Currently there are 10: Royal Birkdale, Royal St. George's, Royal Liverpool and Royal Lytham and St. Annes, all in England; Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland and St. Andrews, Carnoustie, Royal Troon, Turnberry and Muirfield, all in Scotland. Muirfield was removed from the rota in 2016 when members voted against allowing female members, but when the vote was reversed in 2017 it was allowed back in.

Where will it be played this year?

At Carnoustie, which is located on the south-eastern shore of Scotland.

Who has won The Open on that course?

Going back to the first time Carnoustie hosted, in 1931, winners there have been Tommy Armour, Henry Cotton (1937), Ben Hogan (1953), Gary Player (1968), Tom Watson (1975), Paul Lawrie (1999), Padraig Harrington (2007).

Wasn't that the year Hogan nearly won the Slam?

Yep. He had won the Masters and U.S. Open that season, then traveled to Carnoustie and won that as well. It was the only time he ever played The Open. He was unable to play the PGA Championship that season because the dates conflicted with those of The Open.

Jean Van de Velde's name should be on that list, right?

This is true. He had a three-shot lead on the final hole in 1999 and made triple bogey. He lost in a playoff to Lawrie, which also included Justin Leonard.

Who has won this event the most?

Harry Vardon, who was from the Channel Island of Jersey, won a record six times between 1896 and 1914. Australian Peter Thomson, American Watson, Scot James Braid and Englishman J.H. Taylor each won five times.

What about the Morrises?

Tom Sr. won four times between 1861 and 1867. His son, Tom Jr., also won four times, between 1868 and 1872.

Have players from any particular country dominated?

In the early days, Scots won the first 29 Opens – not a shocker since they were all played at one of three Scottish courses, Prestwick, St. Andrews and Musselburgh. In the current era, going back to 1999 (we'll explain why that year in a minute), the scoreboard is United States, nine wins; South Africa, three wins; Ireland, two wins; Northern Ireland, two wins; and Sweden, one win. The only Scot to win in that period was Lawrie, who took advantage of one of the biggest collapses in golf history.

Who is this year's defending champion?

That would be American Jordan Spieth, who survived an adventerous final round to defeat Matt Kuchar by three strokes and earn the third leg of the career Grand Slam.

What is the trophy called?

The claret jug. It's official name is the Golf Champion Trophy, but you rarely hear that used. The claret jug replaced the original Challenge Belt in 1872. The winner of the claret jug gets to keep it for a year, then must return it (each winner gets a replica to keep).

Which Opens have been the most memorable?

Well, there was Palmer in 1961and '62; Van de Velde's collapse in 1999; Hogan's win in 1953; Tiger Woods' eight-shot domination of the 2000 Open at St. Andrews; Watson almost winning at age 59 in 2009; Doug Sanders missing what would have been a winning 3-foot putt at St. Andrews in 1970; Tony Jacklin becoming the first Briton to win the championship in 18 years; and, of course, the Duel in the Sun at Turnberry in 1977, in which Watson and Jack Nicklaus dueled head-to-head over the final 36 holes, Watson winning by shooting 65-65 to Nicklaus' 65-66.

When I watch this tournament on TV, I hear lots of unfamiliar terms, like "gorse" and "whin" and "burn." What do these terms mean?

Gorse is a prickly shrub, which sometimes is referred to as whin. Heather is also a shrub. What the scots call a burn, would also be considered a creek or stream.

Getty Images

John Deere purse payout: Kim wins a million

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 16, 2018, 9:07 am

Michael Kim won his first PGA Tour event, and with it, over $1 million. Here's how the purse was paid out at the John Deere Classic.

1 Michael Kim -27 $1,044,000
T2 Francesco Molinari -19 $382,800
T2 Joel Dahmen -19 $382,800
T2 Sam Ryder -19 $382,800
T2 Bronson Burgoon -19 $382,800
6 Harold Varner, III -18 $208,800
T7 Kevin Streelman -16 $168,780
T7 John Huh -16 $168,780
T7 Chad Campbell -16 $168,780
T7 Keith Mitchell -16 $168,780
T7 Andres Romero -16 $168,780
T12 Scott Brown -15 $117,450
T12 Steve Wheatcroft -15 $117,450
T12 Tyler Duncan -15 $117,450
T12 Matt Jones -15 $117,450
T16 Zach Johnson -14 $81,366
T16 Mackenzie Hughes -14 $81,366
T16 Whee Kim -14 $81,366
T16 Parker McLachlin -14 $81,366
T16 Seamus Power -14 $81,366
T16 David Hearn -14 $81,366
T16 Johnson Wagner -14 $81,366
T23 Dominic Bozzelli -13 $48,886
T23 Joaquin Niemann -13 $48,886
T23 John Merrick -13 $48,886
T23 Chris Kirk -13 $48,886
T23 Richy Werenski -13 $48,886
T23 Derek Fathauer -13 $48,886
T23 Fabian Gomez -13 $48,886
T30 Patton Kizzire -12 $36,830
T30 Jason Bohn -12 $36,830
T30 Chris Stroud -12 $36,830
T30 Robert Garrigus -12 $36,830
T34 Hunter Mahan -11 $27,453
T34 C.T. Pan -11 $27,453
T34 John Senden -11 $27,453
T34 Vaughn Taylor -11 $27,453
T34 Austin Cook -11 $27,453
T34 J.J. Henry -11 $27,453
T34 Nick Taylor -11 $27,453
T34 Cody Gribble -11 $27,453
T34 Denny McCarthy -11 $27,453
T43 Nick Hardy -10 $18,096
T43 Dylan Meyer -10 $18,096
T43 Troy Merritt -10 $18,096
T43 Steve Stricker -10 $18,096
T43 Patrick Rodgers -10 $18,096
T43 Ricky Barnes -10 $18,096
T43 Blayne Barber -10 $18,096
T50 Tom Lovelady -9 $13,990
T50 Kevin Tway -9 $13,990
T50 Hudson Swafford -9 $13,990
T50 Stuart Appleby -9 $13,990
T50 Corey Conners -9 $13,990
T55 Conrad Shindler -8 $13,108
T55 Ryan Moore -8 $13,108
T55 Ryan Blaum -8 $13,108
T55 Andrew Landry -8 $13,108
T55 Matt Atkins -8 $13,108
T60 Nick Watney -7 $12,644
T60 Lanto Griffin -7 $12,644
T60 Sam Saunders -7 $12,644
T63 Mark Wilson -6 $12,354
T63 Kelly Kraft -6 $12,354
T65 Benjamin Silverman -4 $12,006
T65 Arjun Atwal -4 $12,006
T65 Brett Stegmaier -4 $12,006
T65 J.T. Poston -4 $12,006
T69 Nicholas Lindheim -3 $11,658
T69 Tommy Gainey -3 $11,658
71 Kris Blanks -2 $11,484
MDF Chesson Hadley -3 $11,136
MDF Bill Haas -3 $11,136
MDF David Lingmerth -3 $11,136
MDF George McNeill -3 $11,136
MDF Martin Flores -3 $11,136
MDF Ryan Palmer -2 $10,730
MDF Sean McCarty -2 $10,730
MDF Andrew Putnam -1 $10,556
MDF D.J. Trahan E $10,440
MDF Brian Stuard 1 $10,324
MDF Brendon de Jonge 3 $10,208
Getty Images

How to watch The Open on TV and online

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 16, 2018, 9:00 am

You want to watch the 147th Open? Here’s how you can do it.

Golf Channel and NBC Sports will be televising 182 hours of overall programming from the men's third major of the year at Carnoustie

In addition to the traditional coverage, the two networks will showcase three live alternate feeds: marquee groups, featured holes (our new 3-hole channel) and spotlight action. You can also watch replays of full-day coverage, Thursday-Sunday, in the Golf Channel app, NBC Sports apps, and on GolfChannel.com.  

Here’s the weekly TV schedule, with live stream links in parentheses. You can view all the action on the Golf Channel mobile, as well. Alternate coverage is noted in italics:

(All times Eastern; GC=Golf Channel; NBC=NBC Sports; GC.com=GolfChannel.com or check the GLE app)

Monday, July 16

GC: 7-9AM: Morning Drive (stream.golfchannel.com)

GC: 9-11AM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

GC: 7-9PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


Tuesday, July 17

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


Wednesday, July 18

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


Thursday, July 19

GC: Midnight-1:30AM: Midnight Drive (stream.golfchannel.com)

GC: Day 1: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 1: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 1: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 1: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


Friday, July 20

GC: Day 2: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 2: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 2: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 2: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


Saturday, July 21

GC: Day 3: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

NBC: Rd. 3: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 3: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 3: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 3: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 3-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


Sunday, July 22

GC: Day 4: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

NBC: Rd. 4: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-2:30PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 4: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-2:30PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 4: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-2PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 4: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-2PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 2:30-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

Getty Images

Davies wins by 10 on 'best ball-striking round'

By Associated PressJuly 16, 2018, 1:53 am

WHEATON, Ill. - Laura Davies immediately recognized the significance of having her name inscribed on the first U.S. Senior Women's Open trophy.

It might be a long time before anyone secures the title as emphatically as Davies did.

Davies went virtually unchallenged in Sunday's final round of the inaugural USGA championship for women 50 and older, claiming the title by 10 strokes over Juli Inkster.

''It's great seeing this (trophy) paraded down for the very first time and I get my name on it first, you know?'' Davies said. ''This championship will be played for many years and there will only be one first winner - obviously a proud moment for me to win that.''

The 54-year-old Davies shot a 5-under 68 to finish at 16-under 276 at Chicago Golf Club.

It was the English player's 85th career win, and she felt the pressure even though her lead was rarely in danger.

''I haven't won for eight years - my last win was India, 2010,'' Davies said. ''So that's the pressure you're playing under, when you're trying to do something for yourself, prove to yourself you can still win.

''So this ranks highly up there. And obviously it's a USGA event. It's hard comparing tournaments, but this is very high on my list of achievements.''

A 7-under 66 Saturday provided Davies with a five-shot lead over Inkster and what she said would be a sleepless night worrying about the pressure.


Full-field scores from the U.S. Senior Women’s Open


The World Golf Hall of Famer widened her advantage early Sunday when she birdied the par-5 second hole and Inkster made bogey. Davies said a par she salvaged at the 10th was another turning point.

''It wasn't the greatest hole I ever played, but I think that, to me, was when I really started to think I might have one hand on the trophy and just had to get the other one in there.''

Inkster shot an even-par 73. England's Trish Johnson also shot 73 to finish third, 12 shots back.

''I mean, she was absolutely spectacular this week,'' Johnson said about Davies. ''I've played against her for 35 years. Yesterday was the best I have ever seen her play in her entire career.

''She just said walking down 18 it was best ball-striking round she ever had. Considering she's won 85 tournaments, that's quite some feat.''

Danielle Ammaccapane was fourth and Yuko Saito finished fifth. Martha Leach was the top amateur, tying for 10th at 6-over 298.

Davies plans to play in the Women's British Open next month, and called this win a confidence-booster as she continues to compete against the younger generation. She finished tied for second at the LPGA's Bank of Hope Founders Cup earlier this year.

''You build up a little bit of momentum, and a golf course is a golf course,'' Davies said. ''Sometimes the field strength is a little bit different, but in your own mind if you've done something like this, 16 under for four rounds around a proper championship course, it can't do anything but fill you full of confidence.''