Loar knows battle just starting at TPC Craig Ranch

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Loar won earlier this season on the Web.com Tour at the Panama Claro Championship.
October 25, 2012
Bill Nichols, PGATOUR.COM Contributor

MCKINNEY, TEXAS -- Near the end of his 11th year as a pro golfer, Edward Loar finally qualified for the PGA TOUR.

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He got his card for 2012 by juggling the pressure of Qualifying School with the responsibilities of fatherhood, six rounds of q-school, three newborn babies.

About a year later, having lost his card, Loar is hoping a different route gets him back on the PGA TOUR. All he must do is beat 59 other hungry pros in the Web.com Tour Championship.

Given the turn of weather in Thursday's first round, and the level of competition at TPC Craig Ranch in McKinney, q-school has a nice ring to it.

But at least Loar is off to a good start. He shot 4-under 67 to finish the breezy day two strokes off the lead shared by Tag Ridings, Justin Bolli, Cliff Kresge, Michael Putnam, Brad Fritsch and Justin Hicks.

Phillip Pettit Jr. and Luke Guthrie shot 66.

Winds were fairly mild early, blowing from the south. But about 2:30 p.m., dark clouds appeared, the temperature dropped about 20 degrees to the mid 50s, and 20 mph gusts came from the north.

Forecasts call for colder temperatures, 10-20 mph winds and rain for Friday.

"It was important to get off to a good start but with the weather coming up, the real tournament is going to start tomorrow,'' said Bolli, who hit 11 of 14 fairways and 15 greens.

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Loar figures he needs to finish at least third to re-establish his PGA TOUR membership.

If he does not make it, he has the security of fully exempt status on the Web.com Tour.

The top 25 on the season-ending money list earn cards. No. 1 gets fully exempt status plus a berth in the prestigious PLAYERS Championship.

"Golf-wise, on the big tour I haven't played as well as I would have liked,'' said Loar, who made six cuts in 22 starts. "But I feel like I'm a better player. I've got a great opportunity this week to get back out there.''

Either way, the 2012 season was a big win for Loar.

He and his wife, Melaney, celebrated the first birthday of sons William and James and daughter Collins on Sept. 5.

"It's been wonderful,'' Loar said. "My family's doing great, my kids are very healthy. Everything beyond that is a blessing. It's been busy to say the least. I'm probably one of the few Tour pros who go to all these wonderful destinations to get some sleep.''

Loar has local knowledge he can use to his advantage. He figures he's played TPC Craig Ranch about 50 times, including four second rounds of q-school.

Round 1 recap

Six players are tied for the lead at 6-under at TPC Craig Ranch.

On Thursday, he opened with two bogeys but then settled down and carded six birdies the rest of the way.

"I've played it under every condition, which I think will help me out, especially Friday,'' he said. "The weather will change the course completely.''

Co-leader Ridings is another familiar face at TPC Craig Ranch. He lives in nearby Keller, a suburb in between Dallas and Fort Worth.

Like Loar, Ridings is motivated by an addition to his family -- daughter Charli Elizabeth was born 10 days before he arrived. She was five weeks early.

"She's not supposed to be here yet,'' Ridings said. "She was supposed to wait until I'm on TOUR.''

On Thursday, Ridings re-shafted his driver and then hit 10 of 14 fairways and 16 greens.

"You've got to drive it well on this golf course,'' Ridings said. ``I hit the irons good as well but you can't hit good irons from the rough.''

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