U.S. Open

Pinehurst Resort & Country Club (Course No. 2)

The Loop

The dreaded Q-school moment

December 08, 2008

Jay Williamson didn't want to be a poster child for PGA Tour Qualifying School, or be part of a Golf Channel loop showing his frustration with the Choke Fest taking place at PGA West in LaQuinta, Calif. A potential YouTube moment is not the type of attention a PGA Tour refugee seeks during exam time.

But the former Trinity (Conn.) College hockey and baseball player, who matched Hunter Mahan shot-for-shot in the 2008 Travelers Championship and lost a playoff in this year's John Deere Classic, had one of those classic meltdowns that are excused during this week when careers are on the line.

In good shape through at 19 under through 87 holes, Williamson went through a stretch that mirrored his last six tournaments of the year -- all missed cuts -- during the fifth round. A misstruck shot at the seventh raised his blood pressure when a wedge into the par-4 green came up inches short and dribbled into a water hazard. When his chip shot from just off the green to save par ran past the hole, Williamson lost it.

He kicked his bag. He threw his wedge into the ground, butt end first. Luckily, he only had two holes to play. Williamson began the day in third place at 18 under, then signed for a 73 and got off the course before any major damage was done to his hopes of winning back his card. Tied for ninth after 90 holes, he was reached after a cool-down period and didn't remember throwing the club.

"I just remember kicking my bag," Williamson said. "That's all I remember. I must have blacked out I was so mad, I freaked out. I'm lucky I didn't hurt myself."

No worries, Jay. Tiger Woods goes ballistic all the time. He gets it out of his system and it's over, done. He goes on to play the next shot.

The 41-year-old Williamson has a bunch of them to play today, the final day of Q School. "I am right there," he said. "I just can't seem to get off the bubble. Part of me feels like I've done too much in my career to be in this position, part of me feels like I deserve what I get. I know the difference now. I'm not 30 years old and I've always believed the older you get, the harder it is. That's how it is."

Williamson plays the more forgiving Nicklaus Tournament Course today. He talked about shooting 60 and saying goodbye to everybody. He also talked about the fine line between nearly winning the Hartford and Quad Cities events, then missing those nine straight cuts to finish 137th on the money list. The problem now: instead of distancing himself, he's only three strokes off the bubble.

"That's why this is so difficult," he said. "I got to get myself together and get some sleep and get out there tomorrow. I'm glad that Stadium Course is behind me."

--Tim Rosaforte