PGA Tour Champions
Aussies rule Champions Q School and only one American gets through
Cameron Percy medaled in PGA Tour Champions Q School in his first attempt.
Sean M. Haffey
A first look at the leaderboard following the final round of PGA Tour Champions Q School made one point very obvious: Australians had a very good week.
There were five fully exempt spots for 2024 up for grabs over four days at TPC Scottsdale Champions, and following the final round on Friday, four positions were taken by Aussies. Cameron Percy easily earned medalist honors with a 20-under total score, followed by countrymen Michael Wright (15 under) in second, Steve Allan (14 under) in T-3 and David Bransdon (13 under), who emerged from a three-way playoff.
The only non-Aussie card earner was American Shane Bertsch, who tied for fourth.
Missing out in the playoff were American Wes Short Jr. and France’s Raphael Jacquelin.
The Aussies had a let's-stick-together attitude going into Q School. Remarkably, according to the PGA Tour's website, all four played a practice round together last week in San Jacinto, Calif, and had dinner together once they arrived in Arizona.
Bransdon, 50, made the biggest climb of 11 spots on the final day by shooting four-under 67, with birdies at 16 and 17. He could have been considered among the longest of long shots at the outset. The 50-year-old from Melbourne has two lifetime PGA Tour starts and is 1,719th in the Official World Golf Ranking. He has played most of his recent golf on PGA Tour of Australasia.
Wright, 49, has a very similar resume. He also had only two PGA Tour appearances and is ranked 1,296th in the world, and plays on the Australasia. In a final round that ended spectacularly when he dunked his 112-yard approach shot on the 18th for birdie, Wright charged in the final round with 66 and vaulted eight spots.
Percy is a far more recognizable name. The 49-year-old, who will be first eligible to play when he turns 50 on May 5, is a one-time winner on the Korn Ferry Tour and has five international victories. Percy, who shot 65-66-66-67 this week, played a full season on the PGA Tour in 2023, notching four top-25s in 23 starts.
Bertsch, 53, has won on PGA Tour Champions, having captured the 2020 Charles Schwab Series at Big Cedar Lodge. He’s made 82 starts on the circuit but lost full status this year with seven top-25 finishes in 25 events. Just ahead of Q School, Bertsch notched a T-4 in November’s TimberTech Championship. He has played 195 times on the PGA Tour, with five top-10 finishes.
Allan, who turned 50 in October, is probably best known for another Q School feat, when he won the PGA Tour 2000 qualifying tournament to earn his first PGA Tour card. He has played 214 times on the big tour, and came closest to winning in a playoff captured by Vaughn Taylor in the 2004 Reno-Tahoe Open.
Among the well-known players who didn’t make it out of this senior Q School were current broadcaster Notah Begay III (T-37), Illinois golf coach Mike Small (T-39), former U.S. Ryder Cupper Chris Riley (T43), , Boo Weekley (T-53) and former major league pitcher John Smoltz, who was solo 73rd with a total of 22 over.