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PGA Tour Q School

Tour player overcomes recent tragedy to earn his first PGA Tour card

December 18, 2023
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Keyur Khamar

After he’d run away to earn the top spot in the weather-delayed PGA Tour Q School that ended on Monday, Australian Harrison Endycott spoke of the hours he spent over the last couple of weeks preparing to possibly re-earn full-time status for 2024.

That’s what good pros do to make a living, but unlike Endycott, Hayden Springer couldn’t just focus on golf. In November, the 26-year-old from Nashville and his wife suffered the death of their 3-year-old daughter, Sage, who was born with the genetic disorder Trisomy 18.

Upcoming was PGA Tour Q School—the first to held in a decade as the tour moves back to calendar-year seasons. This was Springer’s opportunity to secure a PGA Tour card for the first time in his career after he’d earned a place in the Final Stage as the Player of the Year for PGA Tour Canada, on which he won twice in 2023 in seven starts. Of course, it would have been understandable if Springer simply couldn’t be there enough mentally to succeed.

“I try to make sure I’m in the right frame of mind, but I do think about her,” he told PGATour.com last week.

Springer and his story created an entirely new group of supporters when he climbed the Q School leaderboard, and then those same fans had their hearts in their throats over the final hour of play on Monday in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. When Springer hooked his tee shot into the water on the par-4 17th hole at Dye’s Valley Course, he was looking at a potential disaster that could knock him out of the top five players and ties to get their tour cards.

After he dropped for a penalty on a bank, Springer’s third shot found the left greenside bunker. But he blasted to three feet from there and managed to save a bogey. He made a routine par on 18, and though Springer suffered three bogeys on his back nine, he ultimately shot one-under-par 69 to tie for fourth at eight under. He’s on the PGA Tour for 2024.

“I thought of her a handful of times,” Springer said on Monday evening of Sage. “It's an interesting kind of thing mentally, thinking about her when you're trying to play and there's pressure and all of that because it is emotional. But it's happy thoughts.”

Endycott, coming off a rookie PGA Tour season in which he narrowly missed keeping unconditional status, dominated in taking the top honors, shooting rounds of 65-68-65-67 (15 under) over two rounds each on the Valley Course and Sawgrass Country Club. As it turned out, he is the only player among the top five to have extensive PGA Tour experience.

Runner-up Trace Crowe (11 under) has played 36 Korn Ferry events over the past two seasons and won July’s NV5 Invitational in a playoff; Blaine Hale Jr. (third, nine under) has never held status on any PGA Tour-sanctioned circuit; and Mexico’s Raul Pereda (T-4, eight under) has played 42 events on PGA Tour Latinoamerica without a victory.

Apparently, some good seasoning at any level is valuable, since all five of the qualifiers are either 26 or 27 years old.

The group beat out some recognizable former college stars and past PGA Tour seasons, including Doc Redman (T-7), Spencer Levin (T-10), Max McGreevy (T-12), Daniel Summerhays (T-28), Russell Knox (T-28), Braden Thornberry (T-28), Erik Compton (T-38), Harry Higgs (T-45) and Patton Kizzire (T-64).

The sixth through top 40 and ties earned exempt status through multiple reshuffles in the 2024 KFT season.

A look at those who earned their cards:

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Keyur Khamar

Endycott, 27: The Aussie struggled badly down the stretch of his rookie 2022-23 PGA Tour season, missing eight of his last 10 cuts and finished four spots out of the top 125 to keep their cards. That meant he had some status for ’24, but it was hardly a comfortable position.

“There were some things you have to address. I was in that category for a reason,” Endycott said after his finish on Monday. “We had to figure out where we have to get better. We worked really hard the last two, three weeks. It’s nice to see it pay off.”

Endycott has made other changes in his life. While being featured in the PGA Tour’s “The Turn” docuseries during the FedEx Cup Fall, he said he gave up alcohol during the 2023 Wyndham Championship. “I got sick of feeling like crap all the time,” he said.

Crowe, 27: The Auburn alum made four birdies on the back nine Monday to shoot 67 for his fourth round of the week in the 60s. Crowe was coming off a huge disappointment from the Korn Ferry Tour Finals, where he was in position to finish inside the top 30 to get his PGA Tour card, only to shoot 76-74 on the weekend. He has three career starts on the PGA Tour, with two cuts made.

Hale, 26: The Dallas native, who attended Byron Nelson High School, is one of those remarkable Q School stories. Despite being a starter on Oklahoma’s 2017 NCAA Championship team, Hale was stuck playing on mini-tours and ranked 4,120th in the world heading into Final Stage. Now, he’ll go from playing in one PGA Tour-sanctioned event ever (on the KFT) to having his full PGA Tour card. Hale held on with a one-over 71 on Monday that included a double bogey on the final hole—his only big number for the week.

“Golf hasn't looked how I thought it would turning pro,” Hale said. “I tell people all the time, being a professional golfer is not necessarily glamorous when you're not playing on the PGA Tour or Korn Ferry Tour. It's driving to the middle of nowhere Kansas for a Monday qualifier or driving to small-town Oklahoma to play a mini-tour event and you three-pack your clubs in the back and you've got your shoes and your extra clubs and it's just you and the open road for a lot of that. That's the stuff that people don't see that really is the hard part of professional golf.”

Pereda, 27: The Mexican native caused a stir in his country last April when, in his PGA Tour debut, he opened the Mexico Open with a 65. But while the Jacksonville University product made the cut, he faded to 60th. Pereda played mostly on the Latinoamerica in 2023 and notched four top-10s. With six-time DP World Tour winner Anders Forsbrand on his bag for Q School, he overcame an early double bogey on Monday, in large part to chipping in twice, and made three birdies on the back nine.

Springer, 26: With his wife Emma and 1-year-old daughter Annie on hand, the TCU alum got his first PGA Tour card after most of his starts have come on PGA Tour Canada or Latinoamerica. Springer made four starts in Canada before capturing the Manitoba Open at 21 under in late August. A T-6 followed, and then he won the Fortinet Cup Championship with 22-under total.

“This summer in Canada definitely helped me to get it done today and to handle kind of the pressure and what needed to happen,” Spring said. “I think the two wins that I had in those final rounds, it's a similar feeling trying to get the job done.

“I've worked essentially my whole life to get into this position, and you dream about it,” he said. “It's like you don't know exactly when that day will come, but today is the day.”