This is my favorite time of year. No, it’s not because of the fall foliage or the first snowfall, but because it’s Q-School season! Every week on the PGA Tour, we watch millionaire superstars play for ridiculous sums of money. Then they fly away on their private jets and repeat. FedEx Cup? Boring. You want real drama, watch the PGA Tour and LPGA Tour Qualifying School Tournaments in December! Rather than playing for millions, the competitors at Q-School are playing for their careers. Some are former PGA and LPGA Stars, looking to return to form. Others are aspiring pros coming up the ranks from the mini tours and collegiate ranks, or driving ranges and pro shops. Many have nothing but a few bucks in their pockets, lots of desire and talent.
As fans, we love a good story, and the best ones are of the cinderella boy coming from nowhere, or the unfortunate soul who missed a 3 footer on the last hole to miss getting his tour card by a stoke. At Q-School, the emotion is real. The tension and drama are on par with the world’s biggest tournaments. The elation or despair on the players’ faces tells the story every year. You don’t need to watch the leader board, just watch the players and you’ll know where they stand.
- Amateur star Rickie Fowler, who finished tied for second last week and the Fry’s.com open, will have a guaranteed spot in the finals, provided he stays in the top 150 in the money. If he can have another good week and break into the top 125, he’ll be able to skip Q-School altogether. In just two PGA Tour starts he’s earned almost enough money to secure his tour card for 2010. Not even Tiger Woods did it that fast.
- David Duval is currently the bubble boy on the PGA Tour, sitting in the 125th spot on the money list as of this week’s Viking Classic. Should he have a good week he has a good chance to regain his card for 2010. If not, we’ll see him at the Q-School finals as the headliner for sure. Since David and I share the same name, I’ll be pulling for him!
- Among the players who failed to advance past the first stage were Gary Nicklaus, the 40-year-old son of Jack Nicklaus, and Sam Saunders, the grandson of Arnold Palmer. Tadd Fujikawa and Danny Lee, who won a European Tour event in February, also failed to get past stage one. Your humble editor played in a group behind Gary Nicklaus at the Florida State Amateur a few years back after he had regained his amateur status, and let me tell you, he can still hit it.
- The feel good story of the first stage was Erik Compton’s medalist finish to advance to stage two. Compton has been the recipient of two heart transplants. Just being able to play golf after a heart transplant is a miracle, but to be able to compete at this level after two of them is simply astounding.
- As far as the ladies, several notable players advanced to the LPGA Q-School finals in Daytona. Amateur standouts Amanda Blumenherst and Maria Jose Uribe both advanced. Blumenherst was the 3-time NCAA Player of the Year at Duke and won the 2008 U.S. Women’s Amateur. Uribe, from Colombia, was the 2007 U.S. Women’s Amateur champion and while still an amateur had some great showings in pro events, including a top ten finish at the US Women’s Open.
- The LPGA Q-School also features several players from The Golf Channel’s “Big Break” series. Caroline Larsson, Christina Lecuyer, Gerina Mendoza, Blair O’Neal, Elizabeth Stuart and Bri Vega will all try to earn playing privileges on the LPGA Tour in 2010.
- Several LPGA Tour veterans are returning to Daytona to recover from lackluster seasons, including Erica Blasberg, Diana D’Alessio, Dorothy Delasin, Julieta Granada, Lorie Kane and Kris Tschetter. For a complete listing of the field at LPGA International in Daytona, click HERE.
When the final field for the PGA Tour Q-School finals is posted, I’ll update this post with the details. Until then, enjoy the best season of the year for golf, and be sure to subscribe to our RSS feed or email updates below!