Chandler Blanchet goes for broke at Q-School's Final Stage, eyes first TOUR card
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Chandler Blanchet won twice on PGA TOUR Latinoamérica this season to earn a direct ticket to PGA TOUR Q-School presented by Korn Ferry's Final Stage. (Enrique Berardi/Getty Images)
Won PGA TOUR Latinoamérica's season-long Totalplay Cup to secure full Korn Ferry Tour status at minimum
Written by Adam Stanley @Adam_Stanley
Chandler Blanchet looks in the rear-view mirror and sees his son, Cameron, in his car seat. Blanchet just picked up the 8-month-old from daycare and is heading home.
Unlike the majority of those competing this week at PGA TOUR Q-School presented by Korn Ferry’s Final Stage, Blanchet hasn’t gone through any pressure-cooked, wait-by-the-phone, crunch-the-number scenarios to get here. In fact, things have been awfully pleasant for Blanchet.
Blanchet calls northeast Florida home. He’ll sleep in his own bed this week as he tees it up at TPC Sawgrass’ Dye’s Valley Course and Sawgrass Country Club. He finished first on PGA TOUR Latinoamérica’s season-long Totalplay Cup, securing full 2024 Korn Ferry Tour status at minimum.
That top-of-the-table result happened in July.
So, Blanchet has been waiting longer than anyone else in the field for his shot at a PGA TOUR card via Final Stage (the top five and ties will earn 2024 TOUR membership). He’s rested, ready, and dialed right in.
“I’m getting to sleep in my own bed probably for the first time ever for a professional golf tournament, which is cool, right?” Blanchet said. “I can go through my daily routine as normal, and it’s very cool to be able to play (where) I’ve called home the last six years. I’ve played in a lot of different conditions and on a lot of different days. I feel very prepared for this week.
“It’s at two courses I’m very familiar with and in this situation – already having full status on the Korn Ferry Tour for next year – I am just gunning for (a top-five finish).”
Blanchet, who was the 2017 NCAA Division II Player of the Year while at West Florida, won twice in 11 PGA TOUR Latinoamérica starts this season, among eight top-25 finishes. He knew had had a good year but admits he didn’t do anything much different than in previous seasons.
“I would say it’s more of a culmination of the last five years coming together," Blanchet said. "Things I’ve learned and things I’ve grown from and what works best for me. Just playing my game and sticking to my routines and letting it all click in that regard.”
Chandler Blanchet interview after winning the Bupa Tour Championship
Since July, the 27-year-old has just enjoyed being a dad (“It’s by far been the longest offseason I’ve ever had," he said. "In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever really had an offseason”). His wife Michaela is back to work, so Blanchet will often take his son to daycare in the morning and arrive at the course around 8:30 a.m.. Then he’ll often pick him up at daycare and head home around 3:30 p.m. that afternoon. He’s taking advantage of this time now – another reward to reap after a fabulous campaign on PGA TOUR Latinoamérica. Blanchet knows this time is valuable since he’ll be on the road for about 25 weeks in 2024. Hopefully, he says, his family will join him at a few events. But this father-and-son bonding is priceless.
“Everyone talks about perspective when you have a kid, but it really is – there’s no other way to put it," Blanchet said. "It widens your perspective. It changes things.”
And with this widened perspective has come a laser-like focus on sticking to what’s worked. There are no more 4 p.m. tee-times, he said with a laugh, but there are also no big questions that need answers. There’s no time for tinkering.
“I feel like I’ve been way more efficient when I’ve gone to the course," Blanchet said. "I get there and I get it done. It’s been great for me in a sense because I’m not going home and thinking about my golf swing, or ‘I wonder if I did this’ and then change the swing. When I leave the course, I leave golf at the course.”
There’s no denying this is a big week for Blanchet and the 164 others who are competing at Final Stage in Ponte Vedra Beach. For many, it’s the end of a multi-month journey from pre-qualifying, First or Second Stage. For others, it’s another opportunity to return to the PGA TOUR – with the top five and ties receiving TOUR cards come Sunday night. For Blanchet, he gets one final chance in 2023 to get back to work and see if he can make one more big leap after the most consistent season of his career.
He knows there are some circumstantial things he can’t control. Maybe he’ll have an awesome week but finish sixth. But Blanchet has done everything he can to get as ready as he can, he said. Maybe there will be some more aggressive commitments to his targets. Maybe there will be some more opportunities to make birdies without having to be in a fight for a top-40 spot.
His son’s in the rear-view mirror. The next stage of his life is through the front window.
“It’s been a long offseason,” Blanchet said. “I’m ready to get going.”