LA QUINTA, Calif. -- Through the first three rounds of the final stage of q-school Will Claxton is atop the leaderboard for a second straight day after a 69 Friday on the Stadium Course at PGA West that leaves him at 13 under.
Two shots back are Bobby Gates, Matt Jones and Seung-yul Noh.
Of course winning isn’t necessarily all that important. Finishing in the top 25 is. Some of the notable names among that group with three rounds to go include Vaughn Taylor, Billy Hurley III, Harris English, William McGirt, Adam Hadwin and Bob May.
The biggest difference between the second and third rounds? Wind, or lack thereof on Friday. In calmer, sunnier conditions, scores were much lower with three players going as low as 8 under and one, Robert Streb, 9 under. For Streb, who graduated from Kansas State in 2009, that was a 15-shot improvement over his second round score.
Two others, Lee Williams and Chris Tidland, meanwhile, had holes-in-one.
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
LA QUINTA, Calif. -- Earlier this year, William McGirt snuck into the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup when Justin Leonard missed a 13-foot par putt on the final hole of the Wyndham Championship. Now the putter is in McGirt’s hands in the final stage of q-school.
So far, so good. McGirt is 8 under and well inside the top 25 on the leaderboard through the first three rounds of the six-day tournament. Not that McGirt, in his third straight trip to the final stage of q-school, is all that interested.
“All I want to know is how many shots out of the lead am I because I’m trying to win this darn thing,” McGirt said after shooting a 2-under 70 on Friday. “I don’t want to finish 25th.”
It’s interesting logic from McGirt, and also different than most because all that matters in terms of getting a PGA TOUR card for next season is finishing in the top 25. McGirt’s thinking, however, is that if he’s trying to win and doesn’t then he has a lot better chance of being in the top 25.
After what McGirt’s been through, however, it’s easy to understand where he’s coming from. Three straight years in the second stage of q-school he had a putt on the last hole to reach the final stage. Three straight times he missed it with his ball twice lipping out and another time burning the edge. Last year, he successfully navigated the final stage and tied for second. The year before, he didn’t, tying for 90th.
It’s moments like these why McGirt’s wife, Sarah, stayed home.
“The thing out here is [bleep] happens,” said McGirt, who added that one trip to q-school at Bear Lakes in 2009 was enough for his wife. “You think you know someone really well, but out here you see a different side of people. Sometimes you have to get it out of your system. I’ve slammed my share of clubs. You can’t let it build up inside of you. You have to let it out sometime.”
Translation: Q-school is “the longest six days of your life,” McGirt said.
And even though he has partial status after finishing 141st on the money list, that’s not enough for McGirt.
“Everybody know what’s on the line here,” said McGirt, who has bounced around mini tours and the Nationwide Tour in recent years. “l’m fortunate that I have some starts next year, but they’re probably not going to be the ones I want to play.
“I want to get my job back full time. I feel the second time around is going to be a whole lot better.”
How much easier are the conditions Friday at PGA West? Consider this: Eight players failed to break 80 in the second round -- and seven of those players are at even par or better today.
Former Auburn standout Will Claxton continues to battle PGA TOUR veteran Matt Jones for the overall lead at PGA West. Both are 11 under, with 2011 PGA TOUR rookie Daniel Summerhays at 10 under.
There several former PGA TOUR winners battling to get into that all-important top 25:
: 2006 International, currently tied for ninth
Vaughn Taylor : Two-time Reno-Tahoe Open winner, currently tied for 15th
Brett Wetterich : 2006 HP Byron Nelson Championship winner, currently tied for 29th
Shaun Micheel: 2003 PGA Championship winner, currently tied for 29th
UPDATES: Q-school finals, Round 3 leaderboard
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
LA QUINTA, Calif. -- The good news for Ty Tryon is that he was one of the players who broke par Thursday with a 2-under 70 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. The bad news is that he’s still well outside the top 100 on the leaderboard because of an opening-round 78.
This is Tryon’s second straight trip to the final stage of q-school after going 10 years without getting there. Last year, he tied for 114th at Orange County National. That got the one-time teen phenom partial status on the Nationwide Tour, but he missed eight of nine cuts. His best finish was a tie for 29th in the Rex Hospital Open. He also qualified for the U.S. Open but missed the cut there as well.
If there’s a positive for Tryon it’s that there are still 72 holes to go. But at eight shots off the early mark for the top 25, Tryon has a lot of ground to make up over the next four days.
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
LA QUINTA, Calif. -- Q-school has plenty of pressure all on its own. Add in winds consistently in the 20-25 mph range -- with gusts as high as 50 -- and scoring has taken on a whole new meaning here in the second round. Case in point: As of this moment, only nine players have recorded rounds in the 60s. Seven more players failed to break 80, including Brendan Pappas, who shot 86 -- currently the highest score in the books Thursday.
As for the leaderboard, there’s still a long way to go here in the second of six rounds at PGA West. Matt Jones, however, was one of those players to break 70, carding a 68 on the Stadium Course to earn a share of the lead at 9 under. Harris English and Will Claxton are also 9 under, but they are still on the golf course.
Some other notable names in the top 25 on the leaderboard: Billy Hurley III, Vaughn Taylor, Jeff Maggert, Dean Wilson, Bob Estes, Troy Merritt, Adam Hadwin and Sam Saunders.
Four former major winners are among the 173 players who will begin play Wednesday at the Q-school finals at PGA West. The four are:
Rich Beem – The 2002 PGA Championship winner played on a major medical extension in 2011. He tees off at 1:03 p.m. ET.
David Duval – Winner of the 2001 British Open, the former No. 1 player in the world lost his TOUR card this year after failing to finish inside the top 125 on the money list. He tees off at 12:15 p.m. ET.
Lee Janzen – The two-time U.S. Open champ produced just one top-25 finish in 19 starts this year, failing to finish inside the top 125 on the money list. He tees off at 11:57 a.m. ET.
Shaun Micheel – The 2003 PGA Championship winner – the only PGA TOUR win in his career – finished inside the top 125 on the money list in 2010 but couldn’t hold his card this year in making just 12 cuts in 27 starts. He tees off at 11:19 a.m. ET.
In addition, near-major winner Bob May is also in the field. May lost to Tiger Woods in a playoff at the 2000 PGA Championship. Most of his starts the last few years have been on the Nationwide Tour.
First-round play in the six-round event begins at 11 a.m. ET. Check out complete coverage at PGATOUR.COM’s Q-school page.
Of the 29 players who claimed their PGA TOUR cards Monday in the final round of q-school, 17 will be rookies on TOUR in 2011. Just two – medalist Billy Mayfair and Paul Stankowski – are prior winners on TOUR.
Here’s a list of the q-school grads:
2010 Q-SCHOOL GRADS (2011 rookies in bold face)
|Name||PGA TOUR starts||PGA TOUR wins|
|Richard S. Johnson||212||1|
Watch Billy Mayfair as he produces the lowest score in this year's q-school finals.
Billy Mayfair took home medalist honors Monday, shooting a final-round 70 for a six-day total of 18 under, one stroke better than William McGirt and Ben Martin.
Here’s what the veteran said about his performance this week at q-school: “It was a great week. You don’t want to be here, that is for sure, but I played really good. It gives me a lot of confidence to start the year.”
“A win is a win, I don’t care if you win this or if you win your Match Play back at home … a W is a W and I’ll take the feather in my cap. But watching these young kids, watching Ben (Martin) and Bio (Kim) play today under the pressure, I mean they had a lot more pressure riding on this than I did.
“Basically I was playing all week to be able to play through April. After April, I was going to be able to play pretty much everywhere I wanted to anyway with my status. It was good to win, but man, there are some good young players and fearless.”
“I’ve had fun since we putted out on No. 18. It has been a long week. It has been a grind. We’ve had wind, we’ve had rain, we’ve had a little bit of everything this week. The golf course has been great. It has been a great place for q-school.”
“With the weather conditions, and all that, I think a lot of these kids haven’t seen some of that. With us out on TOUR, we see that once or twice every month. We have a lot of adversity. Also, having people close to you, having walking scorers, that is stuff that I’m used to and some of these guys haven’t seen that. So it is the little things that make a big difference.”
“The tournament sponsors were absolutely wonderful last year, giving me a lot of spots. The good thing is, with me playing good this week, I don’t have to ask them for those anymore. That is probably the most satisfying thing.”
In the end, 29 players secured PGA TOUR cards for the 2011 season with two of those players, Michael Putnam and Justin Hicks, having already gotten a card via finishing in the top 25 on the Nationwide Tour money list.
The next group of 50 players, meanwhile, received cards for the Nationwide Tour, while everyone else will get conditional status on the Nationwide Tour.
Among the notables to earn fully exempt status for next season on TOUR were Billy Mayfair, who took home medalist honors at 18 under, Brandt Jobe, James Driscoll and Billy Horschel.
Some of the notables to miss earning a TOUR card or fully-exempt Nationwide Tour status were Patrick Sheehan, Erik Compton, Ty Tryon, John Mallinger, Billy Hurley and Peter Lonard.
When is a bogey a good thing? When it gets a few extra guys a PGA TOUR card.
Because Will Stricker bogeyed the 18th hole to drop to 9 under -- and Michael Putnam and Justin Hicks, both of whom finished inside the top 25 on the leaderboard, were already exempt on TOUR next season by finishing in the top 25 on the Nationwide Tour money list this year -- the number of players at 10 under was reduced to 24. That meant that the next number in, including ties, was suddenly exempt because cards go to players in the top 25.
Translation: Strickler, Scott Gordon and Billy Horschel, who already had status under a major medical exception, all got cards by finishing at 9 under.