News & ToursNovember 29, 2011

First time the charm at Q school for recent collegians?

With the final stage of both PGA Tour and LPGA Qualifying School beginning tomorrow, the former out at PGA West in La Quinta, Calif., the latter at LPGA International in Daytona Beach, Fla., it's interesting to see just how many participants are fresh from the college golf ranks. And when I say interesting, I mean that in two different ways.

My quick glance at the field at PGA Tour Q school found only five players who competed for college teams in the spring:

Chris DeForest, Illinois

Harris English, Georgia

Paul Haley, Georgia Tech

Tom Hoge, TCU

Hudson Swafford, Georgia

Five seems like a small number to me (thus being "interesting" because of its paucity; there were at least seven last year.) Particularly too when you consider that in the last eight years, at least one player straight out of college have not only reached the final stage but actually earned PGA Tour cards (see below). With only the top 25 and ties making it out of a field of 173, the percentages suggest that having one of the five make it through could be difficult, let alone more than one.

2010 Joseph Bramlett, Stanford;Ben Martin, Clemson;

2009Rickie Fowler, Okla. State;Billy Horschel, Florida;Cameron Tringale, Ga. Tech

2008Derek Fathauer, Louisville;Webb Simpson, Wake Forest

2007Dustin Johnson, Coastal Carolina

2006Anthony Kim, Oklahoma;Kyle Reifers, Wake Forest

2005J.B. Holmes, Kentucky;Nicholas Thompson, Ga. Tech

2004Matt Davidson, Furman

2003Hunter Mahan, Okla.State

** A quick aside: Before the PGA Tour decides to re-jigger Qualifying School by not offering ANY PGA Tour cards to participants and instead only providing access to the Nationwide Tour, look at the names above. Six of the 14 players who jumped straight from college to the pros eventually played on U.S. Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup teams. That's 42.8 percent, a pretty high success rate in my mind. Why again, then, is the tour going to cut off this direct route to the major leagues, forcing talented, exciting, fresh blood from making it to the PGA Tour—and succeeding—without first having a stint on the Nationwide Tour?*  >

Conversely, at LPGA Q school, my count has 19 players in the field of 140 who were on college rosters in 2010-11 and two players who are currently seniors in college competing as amateurs this week in hopes of earning a card (LPGA or Futures Tour) that can be used after the end of the spring semester.

Anya Alvarez, Washington

Sandra Changkija, Nova Southeastern

Carlota Ciganda, Arizona State

Cydney Clanton, Auburn

Emma de Groot, Chattanooga

Brianna Do, UCLA*

Rebecca Durham, Stanford

Martina Gavier, Kent State

Numa Gulyanamitta, Purdue

Danielle Kang, Pepperdine

Mitsuki Katahira, Daytona Beach

Stephanie Kono, UCLA*

Maude-Aimee LeBlanc, Purdue

Rebecca Lee-Bentham, Texas

Camilla Lennarth, Alabama

Alejandra Llaneza, Arizona

Aimee Neff, Michigan State

Calle Nielson, Virginia  

Lizette Salas, USC

Natalie Sheary, Wake Forest

Macarena Silva, Florida State

** current playing college golf

This number is interesting to me because it actually seems high, particularly too when you consider that of the 19, 17 were Division I players and of those 17 only three ever claimed first-team All-American honors. It hints at a greater depth of talent than perhaps in the past.