Tag Archives: 2011 PGA Tour Qualifying School

Dec
7
2011
By Stephanie Wei under PGA Tour

Sh*t happens

In the last few months of his rookie season, Bobby Gates caught a streak of bad luck and it seemed like everything that could go wrong, did. Fortunately, his luck changed just in time for PGA Tour Q-school finals, where he came back from a disappointing fifth round one-over 73 to shoot six-under 66 in the sixth to climb to a tie for third at PGA West on Monday and retained full status for the 2012 season.

Best of all, Gates doesn’t have to deal with being that guy — you know, the one who was $1,431 short of finishing in the top 125 on the money list to avoid the dreaded return to Q-school.

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Dec
7
2011
By Stephanie Wei under PGA Tour

Patience can get you to the bigs

A year ago, 38-year-old Tommy Biershenk missed his PGA Tour card by a shot.

Since Biershenk turned pro in 1997, he’s gone to Q-school every fall, including five or six trips to finals. Each time he had to wait another year playing on the Nationwide and/or mini tours  — except for 2005 when he was broke and went to work on a farm for about a year, while also starting a golf cart business that ended up losing money — to try again. Finally, in his fifteenth attempt he fulfilled his lifelong dream.

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Dec
5
2011
By Stephanie Wei under PGA Tour

Oh, the joy and the pain! And then the joy again!

It’s hard to grasp the full range of intense emotions at the finish line of PGA Tour Q-school. It’s even harder for the 29 players (top 25 and ties), who earned their cards for 2012, to put into words their joy and relief. Which is also what makes the atmosphere so awesome and inspiring (and heartbreaking for those who have to wait another year for another shot).

Take Colt Knost, who walked into the scorer’s trailer with his eyes red and watery. After his agent and swing coach told him he was safely inside the number, he still fought back tears — simply from the emotional rollercoaster he had just endured, not just from the last 20 or so minutes, but the entire week.

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Dec
3
2011
By Stephanie Wei under PGA Tour

Noh playing his way to PGA Tour where he belongs

Regardless of the score they posted, the first word uttered when players wrapped up their rounds of PGA Tour Q-school finals on Saturday was some rendition of “tough.” With the wind gusting ceaselessly at 20-30mph at PGA West, the Nicklaus Tournament and Stadium courses bared its teeth — the fourth round scoring average was 74.33 at Nickalus Tournament and 75.45 at Stadium. The strong breeze, along with the tricky pin placements, created double-bogeys to appear on scorecards frequently and easily.

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Dec
2
2011
By Stephanie Wei under PGA Tour

Williams holds up his ball after making a hole-in-one on No. 8

When Will Claxton, who had just signed for a three-under 69 at PGA West’s Stadium course to get to 13-under through 54 holes, found out Lee Williams, his best pal, had made an ace on the Nicklaus Tournament course, his face lit up with a big smile. Claxton asked me, “Which hole? What’s he at (score)?” The eighth hole (with an easy 7-iron) and I wasn’t sure.

“Lee’s the only person who I know what he’s shooting,” he said. “I know his score because we’re good friends and always rooting for each other.”

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Dec
2
2011

Boo is one of a kind...and gives epic interviews

Boo Weekley was kind enough to take a break from practicing on Tuesday at PGA West, the day before the first round of Q-school finals, and chat with me for 20 minutes. Boo, who is famous for galloping down the first fairway, a la Happy Gilmore, at the ’08 Ryder Cup team, only made $279,531 in the 2011 season, finishing 181st on the money list. Which meant he had to go back and play second stage, which was held on a course he played growing up, to advance to finals.

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Dec
2
2011
By Stephanie Wei under PGA Tour

Not the leader (Claxton has eluded pics on internet), but close enough -- Harris English is T2

Will Claxton, who fired 64 to share the first round lead with Daniel Summerhays, rolled in a seven-footer to save par on his final hole on Thursday, the 9th at PGA West’s Stadium course, and to maintain the outright lead at ten-under.

As he was waiting for his turn to putt, his swing coach Scott Hamilton, who has six students at PGA Tour Q-school finals, including Steven Bowditch (T15), Boo Weekley, Reid Edstrom, among others, mentioned Claxton didn’t have even an inkling he was leading through two rounds. Which is understandable considering there aren’t scoreboards on the golf course (there’s just one leaderboard — which is old school, handwritten — near the clubhouse), but Claxton wasn’t checking scores online, either.

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Dec
1
2011
By Stephanie Wei under PGA Tour

Jones on cruise control so far

With the wind blowing steadily at 20-30mph and gusts up to 40mph at PGA West, Matt Jones fired a solid four-under 68 at the Stadium course (the “harder” of the two venues) in the second round of Q-school on Thursday. While there’s still a long way to go, he’s tied for second with a 36-hole total of nine-under — not a bad start.

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Nov
30
2011
By Stephanie Wei under Behind the Scenes

I took the photo above on Tuesday evening from the first tee of PGA West’s Nicklaus Tournament course. Then I added the captions with an app on my phone (I don’t have Photoshop skills, unfortunately, so I consider this my finest work to date) and voila! The setup at the first tee of the Stadium course is similar, along with the tenth tees at both. They think of everything, don’t they!

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Nov
30
2011

Oh no...not now...no, please...uh oh...no...wait...oh, crap.

Thirteen pre-qualifier tournaments, thirteen first-stage events and six second-stage events later, the pool of thousands of golfers hoping to re(earn) their place on the PGA Tour in 2012 has been dwindled down to 173 players, ranging from recent college grads, mini-tour grinders, journeymen, has-beens, major champs, former Tour winners, past Ryder Cup members and guys who had a tough season. All of whom will kick off the grueling six-round, 108-hole marathon at PGA West’s Nicklaus Tournament and Stadium courses this morning. At the finish line, the top 25 (and ties) will collect their cards.

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