It's Q-School Time!! I know, I know, this isn't usually a hot topic in the golf world, but I can't help it, I'm a fan! But this year brings with it some sadness. Q-School, as we currently know it, will end after the final stage in California in December. The PGA Tour voted to change the route to the PGA Tour, eliminating the Q-school process starting in 2013.
There'll still be a Q-school, but instead of joining the big Tour, guys will find themselves members of the Web.com tour (formally the Nationwide Tour). It should also be noted, the whole PGA Tour schedule will change starting in 2013 - the Fall Series that follows the Tour Championship will now be the beginning of the 2013-14 PGA Tour year and those events will be a part of the FedEx Cup points totals. There will be a three tournament event on the Web.com Tour that will determine which 50 players will get PGA Tour cards for the next year.
The push for this change was based on the argument that players on the Web.com tour are more prepared for life on the PGA Tour and should have more success than those that might complete the Q-school journey, some playing satellite tours or coming directly from running golf courses. The new format basically requires guys to get to the Web.com Tour first before becoming a member of the PGA Tour. I guess that makes sense, but somehow it just doesn't seem fair. I love that there are countless stories out there of dreamers who sacrifice and battle to endure the Q-School process for their chance to play with the best in the world. I'll miss that.
But this year has just begun so rather than wallowing in the future changes, let's celebrate all those that have once again committed to the Q-school journey. As has been my tradition, I will share the stories of the guys from Minnesota on this quest. And I hope you go out and find players from your neck of the woods and root them on, too.
As of the time I am writing this, six of the 14 first stage sites have been completed and 8 more are in progress. Approximately 20 guys will advance from each site to stage two, which will have six sites starting on November 13. Please check out this post to get the low down on how the stages work and who qualifies where.
I found 4 Minnesota guys on the listings from the 6 completed sites. Jon Sauer withdrew and Travis Ross wasn't able to advance with a T38 finish at his location. But Minnesotan Clayton Rask, who has been playing on the web.com tour and the Canadian Tour had a very nice 2nd place finish at the Dayton, NV site. He posted rounds of 71-71-67-68 (-11). Out in Palm Desert, CA, Donald Constable from Excelsior, MN also had a 2nd place finish and will advance to one of the November sites posting rounds of 70-67-68-70, with a bogey free last round.
Constable was a new name for me so it was off to Google! The Minnesota Golf Association (MGA) had some great info on this 2011 Minnesota State Amateur Champ and 2011 MGA player of the year. He was a University of Minnesota Gopher golfer and his eligibility ended in 2011. He has played an amateur this past spring and summer and according to an article in April, Constable plans to turn Pro this fall. Constable won the Terra Cotta Invitational back in April, a tournament also won by one of my favorites, Matt Kuchar. There was also a Q-school warm up tournament through the National Golf Association (NGA) Q-school Prep series that Constable finished 3rd in September. He looks like a guy to watch in Stage 2.
Corey Blenkush from Maple Grove, MN, has completed 1 round in his stage 1 event in Texas and will need to dig deep to get out of last place. Tyler Ekenberg, calling Apple Valley, MN, home is currently at T42 after one round in Pensacola, FL, and is only 3 strokes back of the current top 19 and ties. Two more Minnesota players getting ready to start today are Justin Smith, playing in South Carolina, and Jeff Sorensen competing in Port St. Lucie, Florida.
Well, that's all I have to report for now...don't worry, I'll update Q-school progress and keep you posted on what you need to know. We'll also be seeing some new names as we get into the 2nd and Final stages since some players qualified to skip the beginning stages. Over 1,000 dreamers started in stage 1 in the hopes that they can be one of the top 25 at the end of the final stage. I can't wait to see the stories.
Sam Johnson, if you're reading this, there are two 2nd Stage sites in Texas this year - McKinney and Humble...with this being the last year of Q-school as we know it, you need to go!!