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Why you should watch the Tour for the next month

By Alex Myers

When was the last time you watched a event? Be honest, did you even remember it's now called the Tour?

That could change in the coming weeks, though, as the PGA Tour's developmental tour will combine forces with the PGA Tour for its own playoff. Confused? Don't worry, the system is far less complicated than the FedEx Cup.

Related: 9 pricey moments in FedEx Cup history

Essentially, the top 75 players from the Tour and Nos. 125-200 off the PGA Tour's regular season FedEx Cup points list (those who didn't qualify for the PGA Tour's four-event playoff that began last week at the Barclays) are eligible to tee it up. The four-tournament Tour Finals, in which earning a PGA Tour card for next season is the goal, begins Thursday with the Hotel Fitness Championship in Fort Wayne, Ind. It will end with the Tour Championship at TPC Sawgrass (Valley Course) Sept. 26-29. All four $1-million-purse tournaments will air on Golf Channel.


Ryo Ishikawa is among those fighting for his job in the Tour Finals.

In the new system, 25 cards are up for grabs in addition to those already earned by the top 25 money earners during the's regular season. Those 25 players will still compete in the's Tour Finals, though, since where you finish overall (standings will be based on money earned) after the four tournaments will determine a player's positioning on the PGA Tour's eligibility list for the 2013-2014 season.

This new system takes the place of Q School as the year's final feeder system to the PGA Tour. Q School still exists, but now, entrants are only playing for status on the Web.Com Tour next season.

While the true out-of-nowhere-to-the-PGA-Tour stories produced by Q School over the years are a thing of the past, this group of tournaments will still have a rags-to-riches feel. Have you heard of Scott Parel? How about Bhavik Patel? We didn't think so.

Related: 2013's major championships in review

These lesser-known names from the Web.Com Tour will compete with guys like Trevor Immelman, a major champion, and Chad Campbell a former Ryder Cupper. Struggling veterans like Ricky Barnes and Robert Karlsson will vie against potential future stars like Ryo Ishikawa and Bud Cauley. Move on, and you get a chance to play on golf's highest level next season. Fall short, and it's down to the minor leagues. 

For some, they'll experience that disappointment for the first time. For others, it will be for the first time in a long time. Either way, it should for some pretty good reality TV.

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News & Tours

Compton in, Villegas out in last Q School

By John Strege

LA QUINTA, Calif. -- This was the last day of the last Q School, so maybe it was appropriate that Mac O'Grady was there to pay homage. A local resident, O'Grady was the standard bearer of Q School futility and an example the requisite perseverance.

None has persevered to the degree that Erik Compton has. Compton, 32, retained his PGA Tour exemption on Monday, even threatening the lead at one point, 4 1/2 years following his second heart transplant.

"Six rounds of tour school is hell week," said Compton, who played the PGA Tour this year, but finished 165th on the money list to precipitate a return to Q School, as the PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament is called. "For me to be able to have a chance to win tour school, six rounds, four years after what I went through, you can't even dream a story like that. Maybe I made it look easy, but it's not."

Related: Tales from Q School

Compton shot 67 on the Stadium Course at PGA West in the last of six rounds and eventually finished tied for seventh, three strokes behind medalist Dong-hwan Lee. The top 25 and ties from a field of 172 earned PGA Tour exemptions for 2013.

Among them was Lee, one of three South Koreans to qualify, but not the most notable. That distinction goes to Si Woo Kim, 17, the youngest player in the field, who won't be eligible for PGA Tour membership until his 18th birthday, June 28, 2013.

Kim, who tied for 20th, can play as many as 12 tour events as a non-member (via sponsor exemptions or top 10s).

Si Woo Kim became the youngest Q School qualifier ever on Monday. Photo: Victor Decolongon/Getty

As is often the case, this Q School was at least as noteworthy for who failed to qualify as who succeeded. Included in the former group is three-time PGA Tour winner Camilo Villegas, who closed with a 69 on the Stadium Course, but came up two strokes short and tied for 32nd. He will have to rely on sponsor exemptions to play the tour in 2013.

"I still have conditional status, so hopefully I'll get in some tournaments next year," he said. "I've always tried to be very polite and good with sponsors, and if that's the case it'll be good. I'm going to need a little love from them. At the end of the day if you're good enough to be on the PGA Tour you'll be on the PGA Tour."

He called it a reality check, as it was as well for Patrick Cantlay, 20, once the No. 1-ranked amateur in the world. Cantlay tied for 95th here, which gives him conditional status on the Tour next year.

"It is disappointing," Cantlay said. "But it's just one week of golf. I just played badly."

Related: Five historic Q School graduates

England's Ross Fisher, meanwhile, tied for second, the difference a tee shot in the water at 18. Fisher is a four-time winner on the European Tour, who drew inspiration Monday from his playing partner, Compton.

"It's absolutely a privilege to play with such an inspirational player as Erik Compton," Fisher said. "When you think that times are hard or you're down you have to look at a guy like Erik."

To a lesser degree, one might want to draw as well on the example of O'Grady, who went to Q School 16 times before earning PGA Tour membership on his 17th attempt.

Heath Slocum, who has played the tour full time every year since 2002 and has won four times and more than $15 million, understands the equation, even if he failed to produce the correct answer here. He tied for 32nd, two strokes short.

"The best players find their way out there," he said pragmatically. "If I'm in that class, I'll be back out there soon."

The 26 players who earned exemptions:
Dong-hwon Lee
Ross Fisher
Steve LeBrun
Richard H. Lee
Billy Horschel
Kris Blanks
Erik Compton
Brad Fritsch
Jin Park
Fabian Gomez
Michael Letzig
Jeff Gove
Steve Bowditch
Matt Jones
Robert Karlsson
Eric Meierdierks
Scott Langley
Aaron Watkins
Derek Ernst
Si Woo Kim
Tad Ridings
Donald Constable
Bobby Gates
Patrick Reed
Henrik Norlander
Chez Reavie

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News & Tours

The ordeal that is Q school to begin its final chapter

By Bill Fields

It made it to middle age and caused a lot of gray hair in the process.

PGA Tour Qualifying School, 1965-2012.

The beginning of the end of a sports institution commences Tuesday morning with the first stage of qualifying school at six locations after pre-qualifiers last month. First stage will be conducted at 14 venues, followed by six second-stage qualifiers next month, with the 108-hole finals scheduled Nov. 28-Dec. 3 at PGA West, where the top 25 finishers and ties will earn 2013 PGA Tour privileges.


Anthony Kim is one of many to earn PGA Tour playing privileges through Q School.

Q school is out for good after this fall, its 47-year role as a gateway to the PGA Tour over. Starting in 2013, as part of a drastic makeover of the PGA Tour's competitive calendar -- the new season will start in October -- Q school will only award cards to the Tour.

Instead, a three-tournament series blending golfers who have done well on the Tour and not so well on the PGA Tour will take place. Fifty golfers will earn PGA Tour exemptions for 2014 through the series, the top 25 on the circuit guaranteed status as is currently the case, their pecking order up for grabs.

Related: The most historic Q School grads

Q school, the place with the loudest silence in golf, where shots that mean so much are witnessed by so few, will drift into golf's closet of what-has-been.

While the closed-shop argument put forth when the demise of Q school was first percolating has merit (although golfers who have apprenticed on the Tour have historically done better on the PGA Tour), the only people who have ever loved Q school are those who have never played in one.

A golfer can become infamous at Q school but not famous. It is a pass-fail exam, and the failures have tended to get more attention than the successes. Most of the blunders that have become grisly lore happen late -- during the back nine on Monday of the finals -- but pressure builds, and games crack, in anonymity much earlier.

"Due to the sheer scale of the event, the stories that get passed around are of players who get through 99 or 100 holes in great position, then fall apart for keeps, scattering strokes all over the final homeward nine," David Gould writes in his richly-detailed 1999 book, Q School Confidential: Inside Golf's Cruelest Tournament. "Behind these easily spotted tragedies are the untold stories of players whose courage ran dry at an isolated moment, doing swift but permanent damage that the player alone can appreciate."

But plenty of golfers also show sporting bravery at Q school, coming through in the clutch despite sweaty palms and nervous stomachs to attain -- or, often, regain -- the chance to live out a dream.

Related: Frank Nobilo on why changing Q School is good

Golf, especially Q school, is about keeping on and plugging away. No one showed more perseverance at Q school than Mac O'Grady who qualified 30 years ago on his 17th attempt despite shooting 79-76 in the opening two of his six rounds at the finals.

Donnie Hammond won that Q school at TPC Sawgrass and Sawgrass CC by a record 14 shots, but Q school is one tournament where winning really doesn't matter. A golfer just needs to be "inside the number." That fall those who got PGA Tour cards along with Hammond and O'Grady were Nick Price, Dan Forsman, Ken Green, Russ Cochran, Loren Roberts, Tom Lehman and Jeff Sluman.

Among the competitors in 2012's first stage are a Wadkins (Travis), a Tway (Kevin) and a Sindelar (Jamie).

There is also a Nicklaus.

That's Nicklaus Newcomb, a young Kentuckian in the field at Madison, Miss.

At Q school, it is about the game not the name, but a little karma never hurt.

(Photo by AP Images)

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News & Tours

Another piece of PGA Tour puzzle appears to be settled

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. -- Another piece of the 2013-2014 PGA Tour puzzle appears to have been settled.

The current Fall Finish events that will move to the beginning of a split-calendar season in 2013 are likely to be worth full FedEx Cup points. The PGA Tour Policy Board still has to vote on the measure, but that was the recommendation the board received from Player Advisory Council, which met Tuesday at the RBC Heritage.

The tournaments in question are the Justin Timberlake Shriner's Hospital for Children Open, Fry' Open, The McGladrey Classic and the Children's Miracle Network Classic. Additional co-sanctioned events in Asia like the CIMB Asia Pacific Classic also would be worth full FedEx Cup points.


Photo by Getty Images

"The thinking was that if we're going to go through all this trouble to change the schedule and incorporate the fall events into the regular season, the points should be equal to the other events on the schedule," said Jim Furyk, one of four players on the Policy Board.

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News & Tours

GW Monday: Is Q School about to change?

From the Dec. 12 issue of Golf World Monday:

For all the angst it has caused since it began in 1965, PGA Tour Qualifying School has also been a gateway of dreams and an on-ramp to bigger things. Survive the stress, earn a card -- the rest was up to you. It's no surprise, then, that news of the potential demise of this enduring institution after 2012 has created a lot of chatter.


Brendon Todd was recently medalist at Q School.

The PGA Tour is considering changes that would stop Q school from being a direct path to the PGA Tour. Currently, cards go to the top 25 on the Nationwide Tour money list (the class of 2011 is shown) and 25 from Q school.

Instead, all 50 PGA Tour cards would be determined through a three-tournament series comprised of Nos. 1-75 on the Nationwide Tour money list and 75 players (Nos. 126-200) who didn't qualify for the FedEx Cup playoffs. Q school would be only for earning status on the Nationwide Tour.

Several factors are behind the potential shake-up, including the PGA Tour's attempt to obtain a new sponsor for the developmental circuit after Nationwide departs next year and the fact that players with Nationwide Tour experience have retained their PGA Tour cards at a much higher percentage than those without it (87 percent vs. 13 percent in the last six years).

Related: Five historic Q School grads

Still, during that same period J.B. Holmes, Anthony Kim, Dustin Johnson, Webb Simpson and Rickie Fowler (among others) went from college to Q school to PGA Tour success. The success of those young stars, a couple of whom the tour utilizes in its marketing, will make it difficult to completely end Q school as we know it.

-- Bill Fields

(Photo: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

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News & Tours

Q School: The Class of 2011

LA QUINTA, Calif. -- Brendon Todd, who played the PGA Tour in 2009, shot a second consecutive 68 on Monday to earn medalist honors and $50,000 at the PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament at PGA West here.

Among those who earned PGA Tour cards for 2012 were Seung-yul Noh, a 20-year-old from South Korea and former PGA Tour winners Bob Estes, Jeff Maggert and Vaughn Taylor. Among those who missed were Arnold Palmer's grandson, Sam Saunders, who finished T109; David Duval (T72); Lee Janzen (T38) and Ty Tryon (158th).

Twenty-nine PGA Tour cards were issued. Here is the class of 2011:

BRENDON TODD: 26...Played the PGA Tour in 2009 and finished 186th on the money list...Won once on the Nationwide Tour...Was on an NCAA championship team at the University of Georgia.

STEPHEN GANGLUFF: 36...Member of the PGA Tour in 2002 and the Nationwide Tour in four of the ensuing nine years...Played at Ohio State.

BOBBY GATES: 25...Three-putted his final hole of 2011 tour season to finish 126th on the money list, forcing a return to Q School...A Texas A&M graduate.

SEUNG-YUL NOH: 20...from South Korea...Won the 2010 Maybank Malaysian Open at 18 years, 282 days to become the second youngest winner in European Tour history at the time(Danny Lee, 18 years, 212 days held the record that has since been broken by Matteo Manassero).

TOMMY BIERSHENK: 38...Will be a PGA Tour rookie in 2012...Played five years on the Nationwide Tour, most recently in 2011, when he finished 33rd on the money list.

VAUGHN TAYLOR: 35...A two-time winner on the PGA Tour (the Reno-Tahoe Open in 2004 and '05)...Has earned more than $10 million, but lost his card in 2011 after seven straight seasons of earning $1 million or more.

JARROD LYLE: 30...Native Australian...Has played the PGA Tour the last three years without retaining his card...Won twice on the Nationwide Tour in 2008.

BOB ESTES: 45...Joined the PGA Tour in 1989...Won four tournaments and nearly $20 million.

BRIAN HARMAN: 24...2003 U.S. Junior Amateur champion...Won two tournaments at the University of Georgia...Played on two U.S. Walker Cup teams.

MARCO DAWSON: 48...Has played 13 seasons on the PGA Tour, the first in 1991...Best finish was second in the Greater Milwaukee Open in 1995...Won once on the Nationwide Tour.

SONG-MOON BAE: 25...From South Korea...Won three times on the Japan Golf Tour in 2011...Has three Asian Tour victories.

KEVIN KISNER: 27...PGA Tour member in 2011 and finished 181st on the money list...Played on Georgia's NCAA championship team in 2005...Won the Mylan Classic on the Nationwide Tour in 2010.

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News & Tours

Knost flirts with, avoids 18th-hole disaster

LA QUINTA, Calif. -- Former U.S. Amateur and U.S. Amateur Public Links champion Colt Knost went from an emotional high to an emotional low and finally just relief that the Q School ordeal was over.

Knost, who finished 174th on the PGA Tour money list necessitating a return to the PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament, was 10-under par through 17 holes on Monday and safely inside the top 25 when he hit his tee shot on 18 at the Nicklaus Tournament Course into the water. It led to a double-bogey.

"I thought I was done," Knost said. "I thought I had no chance."

When he got to the scoring trailer, he discovered that eight-under par was the number and that he had retained his PGA Tour card. Rather than celebrating, he was more relieved.

"I really thought I was fine, all day," he said. "I thought I had a shot or two to play with on 18. I hit a tee shot I didn't really expect to hit. That was kind of the pressure, I guess. I didn't really know where I stood. I kind of had an idea. If I'd known I had a couple to play with I probably would have blown it way left. I'd been hitting it pretty good all day. That shot came out of nowhere. I made my worst swing of the day at the wrong time. I tried to hit a little cut there and totally whiffed it.

"A tough finish, but it looks like I'm going to make it through."

-- John Strege

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News & Tours

Two more Koreans on verge of joining tour

LA QUINTA, Calif. -- South Korea is likely to send two more players to the PGA Tour next year, which would run its number of exports to four in two years.

Last year, Bio Kim and Sunghoon Kang finished in the top 25 in the PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament to earn PGA Tour membership.

Now Seung-yul Noh and Sang-Moon Bae are tied for fourth and tied for seventh, respectively in the midst of their final rounds at PGA West. Neither appearing on the leaderboard is particularly surprising.

Last year, while still 18, Noh became the second youngest winner in European Tour history when he won the Maybank Malaysian Open. Bae is ranked 30th in the world.

-- John Strege

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News & Tours

Jason Gore playing his way into contention

LA QUINTA, Calif. -- Jason Gore, who has not played the PGA Tour full time since 2009, is playing himself into contention for a 2012 tour card.

Gore is four-under par through seven holes of the final round on the Nicklaus Tournament Course to move from a tie for 63rd to a tie for 38th in the PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament at PGA West. Gore is two shots from moving into the top 25.

In 2005, Gore, 37, introduced himself to the golf world at large by holding a share of the lead through 36 holes of the U.S. Open, only to falter on Sunday and finish in a tie for 49th. Later that year he won three straight starts on the Nationwide Tour to earn a promotion to the PGA Tour, then won the 84 Lumber Classic in his fourth start as a member of the PGA Tour.

-- John Strege

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News & Tours

Duval among a failing group of tour veterans

LA QUINTA, Calif. -- It has not been a good week for a group of PGA Tour veterans and tournament winners at the PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament at PGA West.

Three former major champions -- David Duval, Rich Beem, Lee Janzen and Shaun Micheel -- are not going to earn PGA Tour exemptions for 2012. Duval is T70, Beem T115 and Micheel T109 early in final-round play. A fourth major winner, Lee Janzen, is T43 and still contending for one of the 25 tour cards available.

Another group -- Scott McCarron, Carlos Franco and Robert Gamez, all PGA Tour winners -- also will fail to earn playing priveleges next year. McCarron, now a resident of La Quinta, is T143, Franco T134, and Gamez T127.

A threesome of former tour winners are in position to return to the PGA Tour -- Vaughn Taylor (T9) and Bob Estes and Jeff Maggert (both T23).

-- John Strege

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