The final stage of the PGA Tour's qualifying school tournament is one of the most pressure-packed events in sports. But most of that field has to survive one or two other cuts just to make it to the six-day stomach grinder.
The second of three stages is well underway this week, with six sites hosting four-day events. At each course, there are about 20 spots up for grabs as everyone tries to advance to the last round Nov. 30-Dec. 5 at PGA West, where 25 PGA Tour cards for the 2012 season -- golf's closest thing to a winning lotto ticket.
This year, it seems like an unusually-high number of well-known golfers are competing just for the right to play in the final stage. One of the biggest names playing in the second stage, however, isn't even looking to turn pro.
Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images
Oklahoma State All-American Peter Uihlein, the 2010 U.S. Amateur champion, said he wanted to compete in Q School for experience and that he wouldn't turn pro if he earned his card. His college coach doesn't have to worry about him changing his mind. Surprisingly, Uihlein, the son of Acushnet CEO Wally Uihlein, is nearly dead last in his qualifying in McKinney, Tex.
Then there's David Duval, who despite struggling the past decade kept his playing priviledges on the PGA Tour. Until now. After another lackluster season, the recently-turned 40-year old finds himself in Murrieta, Calif., trying to recapture the golf game that quickly disappeared after he won the 2001 British Open. So far, so good, as rounds of 69-67 at Bear Creek Golf Club have the former top-ranked player in the world T-2 with two rounds to play.
Other notables in Murrieta in good shape thus far are South Korean phenom Seung-Yul Noh, another Oklahamo State All-American, Morgan Hoffman, and Joseph Bramlett, who was the only other African-American on the PGA Tour during his rookie season this past year. Others like Dean Wilson and Jeff Quinney have work to do if they are going to be playing on golf's highest stage in 2012.
Jamie Lovemark looked like a surefire star when he arrived on the PGA Tour last year. But after a disappointing rookie season, he's trying to earn another shot in Plantation, Fla., where a 67-66 start has him T-11 heading into the weekend. Trailing him by five shots is Notah Begay III, who apparently isn't ready to turn full-time TV analyst just yet.
In Panama City, Fla., Tommy Armour and Boo Weekley, both two-time winners on the PGA Tour, are in good shape with two rounds to play. Armour is the 36-hole leader and Weekley is in third.
Kevin Kisner, following a tough rookie year on the PGA Tour in which he finished 195th on the money list, is in control by four shots with one round to play in Humble, Tex. Other notables in the field in decent shape to make it through are 2002 PGA champion Rich Beem and Jeff Maggert, a man who has made more than $17 million during his PGA Tour career.
University of Georgia product Harris English made waves this summer when he won on the Nationwide Tour as an amateur. It appears he'll have a crack at playing his way onto the PGA Tour later this month as he sits T-8 heading into the final round in Brooksville, Fla. In even better shape is Sam Saunders, a grandson of Arnold Palmer, who is in third place.
To follow all the scores, check out PGATour.com.
-- Alex Myers
Follow on Twitter: @AlexMyers3