Q-School notebook: Hueber advances, drives to wedding
November 11, 2016
By Kevin Prise , PGATOUR.COM
- Justin Hueber ranked 15th in ball-striking last season on the Web.com Tour. (Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
BROOKSVILLE, Fla. – Justin Hueber woke up Friday with a sense of anticipation. It was his good friend J.C. Horne’s wedding day, and Hueber was excited to make the afternoon drive back to the Jacksonville, Florida area for the wedding.
But the time for fun would come later. Earlier in the day, Hueber had a job to do.
The Arkansas native had taken the 54-hole lead into Friday’s final round of the all-important Second Stage qualifier at Southern Hills Plantation Club, where the top 18 finishers and ties would advance to Final Stage of the Web.com Tour Qualifying Tournament and earn status for the 2017 Web.com Tour.
Finishing the job in Brooksville required just a decent round of golf, nothing more, but that didn’t mean Hueber was immune from the typical nerves presented by the make-or-break Second Stage.
The key, then, was accepting the reality and making the best of it. Hueber did just that, shooting a final-round, 2-under 70 to finish with a 14-under total, good for a three-stroke victory over Michael Johnson, Seth Reeves and Ken Looper.
Whether you finish first or 18th at Second Stage, it doesn’t matter, as all advancers will start on equal footing at Final Stage, to be contested December 8-11 at Orange County National GC in nearby Winter Garden.
Still, Hueber can take confidence in knowing that he came out on top.
“This is a strange feeling out here, and I was nervous for sure,” said Hueber, 29, who held conditional Web.com Tour status in 2016, making nine cuts in 15 starts and finishing 125th on the money list. “I settled down early and was able to make some easy pars … tried to just make it easy on myself, but there were definitely some nerves going.
“You can’t fight it. You just have to embrace it and kind of roll with it.”
After putting the finishing touches on his scorecard, it was time for the 3.5-hour drive back to Jacksonville. Hueber accepted that he would miss the wedding itself, but he was confident that he could get back in time for the reception.
The fun wouldn’t stop Friday, either, as Hueber had another wedding on his schedule for Saturday (that of Zach Guthrie, brother and caddie of Web.com Tour member Luke Guthrie).
The good news? He has nearly a month to prepare for Final Stage, so he can afford to stay off the golf course for a couple of days.
“It’s going to be a busy weekend,” Hueber said. “I’m looking forward to it. It feels good to just advance, and winning is a little bonus.”
The cloud says it all.— Web.com Tour (@WebDotComTour) November 11, 2016
Justin Hueber, with 2 weddings to attend this weekend, takes medalist honors in Brooksville pic.twitter.com/EB3AuY9vNa
NOTABLES TO ADVANCE
Recent Auburn graduate Michael Johnson finished T2 at 11 under, five shots inside the number. The Birmingham, Alabama native narrowly missed gaining entry into the 2016 Web.com Tour Finals despite a third-place finish at the TOUR’s Barbasol Championship in July, so he was forced to advance through First and Second Stages in order to gain Web.com Tour status for 2017.
No worries, though. A smooth 5-under 67 in Friday’s final round in Brooksville meant that he would do just that.
“It’s been a weird year for me,” said Johnson after signing his final-round scorecard. “I thought I would make the Finals and then found out I didn’t … but it’s nice to play well, and it’s a nice little relief to get past Second Stage, starting out on the number today, really.” (Johnson was 6 under through 54 holes, and the eventual cut line was 6 under.)
“I was telling my caddie that you can get stuck making a lot of pars, but you’re OK because it’s Q-School … and then you make a bogey and it’s like, ‘I probably should’ve made a couple birdies.’ College is such a different thing … if you play bad in a college round, it’s not a big deal; you’ve got another tournament coming up.
“At Q-School, if I don’t make it, I don’t really know what I’ll do. I don’t want to think about it.”
No matter what happens at Final Stage, he’ll have a Web.com Tour card.
Onward and upward.— Web.com Tour (@WebDotComTour) November 11, 2016
Auburn alum Michael Johnson shot 67 today and will comfortably advance to Final Stage. 👊 pic.twitter.com/JOcuf00rcJ
Columbus, Ohio-area resident Stephen Gangluff finished T5 at 10 under par, four strokes inside the number. The 41-year-old has spent two seasons on the PGA TOUR and four on the Web.com Tour, but hadn’t held status on either Tour since 2012, and has been working as a teaching professional at Tartan Fields Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio.
Gangluff enjoys his job as an instructor, but he’s itching to get back out on a professional circuit full-time. He took a big step toward that goal with a final-round 70 in Brooksville that included birdies on holes 15, 16 and 17.
“It feels great,” said Gangluff after his final round at Southern Hills. “I haven’t been there for a while, haven’t been playing much, so it’s just nice to be back and get back out and play … I stayed pretty calm (Friday), but it’s hard. Second Stage is always the hardest to me. It’s just tough to finish the way you want to.”
“I taught at a great place; I got to practice mostly in the mornings, and then I’d have juniors and most evening stuff, so I got to relax and practice a lot too. They wanted me to play, so it was nice … I got to play as much as I could.”
Steve Gangluff, a teaching pro from Ohio, has advanced to Final Stage. 👌 pic.twitter.com/KhTArcTwRW— Web.com Tour (@WebDotComTour) November 11, 2016
Florida State alum Doug Letson finished T10 at 9 under, three shots inside the cut line. The New Orleans native earned medalist honors at his First Stage site in October (Grasslands G&CC), and he had also medaled at Second Stage in Brooksville in 2015, but he entered Friday’s final round one stroke back of the all-important 6-under number.
With a series of clutch 15- to 20-footers on his back nine Friday, though, Letson posted a closing 68 to comfortably advance to Final Stage -- and give himself a chance to build on his 2016 Web.com Tour campaign where he recorded just one top-25 finish in 21 starts.
It’s been a good fall for Letson, who recently moved to downtown Tampa with his new wife Leslie (the two got married this past Saturday).
He’ll look to build on it next month at Final Stage, powered by a gutsy final round in Brooksville.
“Last year, I didn’t have any nerves … I knew that if I stood upright, I was probably going to qualify,” said Letson, reflecting on his Second Stage effort in 2015. “This is more satisfying, in a way, knowing that I can grind it out when I don’t really have my best.”
Doug Letson got married last Saturday.— Web.com Tour (@WebDotComTour) November 12, 2016
He then proceeded to advance through Second Stage. 👊 pic.twitter.com/Qx5KWePPZi
Recent LSU graduate Zach Wright had a familiar face on the bag this week – former college teammate Curtis Thompson, who has played the Web.com Tour the past two seasons and is preparing for a third.
Thompson knows what it’s like to grind through Q-School (he successfully advanced through all four stages, including pre-qualifying, in 2014, just as Wright is attempting to do).
With Thompson guiding the way, Wright grinded out a 2-over 74 in Friday’s final round, including two birdies in his final three holes, to finish at 6-under total, squarely on the number.
It was a tense afternoon for Wright and Thompson, as they were unsure where exactly they stood as they made the walk from the 18th green to the scoring area.
But things broke right for Wright, and he’ll have a tee time next month at Orange County National.
“He’s just there for support,” said Wright of Thompson’s presence on the bag. “Everything that I need. What a privilege to have him on the bag, and he just helped me all the way through.”
“This is the toughest Stage out of all of them,” added Thompson. “I had to go through it; I had to do the same thing that he’s doing … this is by far the hardest. The nerves are at an all-time high here, because you know that if you just make it to Final Stage, you have some sort of status.
“All I can give him are the numbers to the best of my knowledge, and he’s got to execute. So it’s all on him.”
Geaux Tigers.— Web.com Tour (@WebDotComTour) November 11, 2016
With former LSU teammate Curtis Thompson on the bag, Zach Wright advanced to Final Stage. 💯 pic.twitter.com/NIDLEB73cq
NOTABLE TO MISS
George Bryan of Aiken, South Carolina, finished T33 at 3 under, three strokes outside the cut line. Bryan, half of the acclaimed Bryan Bros Golf trick-shot duo with his brother Wesley (a TOUR rookie), arrived at the 72nd hole needing birdie to advance, but his tee shot settled near the lip of a fairway bunker and he went on to make double-bogey 6.
Follow us on Snapchat at "WebTourSnaps" as we covered Bryan's quest to advance.
Frank Lickliter of Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, finished T41 at 1 under, five strokes outside the cut line. The 47-year-old Ohio native holds two PGA TOUR titles, the 2001 Kemper Insurance Open and the 2003 Chrysler Classic of Tucson.
PLANTATION, FLORIDA (Plantation Preserve Golf Course & Club)
By Adam Stanley
Seventy-four players competed for 18 spots. Lanto Griffin of Mount Shasta, California was the medalist. His 14-under-par total clipped Ben Taylor of London, England by two shots. Griffin, who spent 2016 on PGA TOUR Latinoamerica and made nine cuts, fired a final-round 64 (7-under), which was the round of the day.
Notables to advance: Taylor (runner-up) drained the winning putt for LSU at the 2015 NCAA Championship. He spent 2016 on the Mackenzie Tour-PGA TOUR Canada and Monday-qualified for the 2016 RBC Canadian Open … Chase Marinell finished top-10 at last year’s Web.com Tour Final Stage but struggled on the Web.com Tour in 2016; he was fifth this week … Kyle Wilshire (T11) is roommate of Web.com Tour member Greg Eason … Billy Kennerly finished tied for 11th. He finished T14 at the LECOM Health Challenge on the Web.com Tour this year and won the 2015 Canadian Men’s Amateur Championship … Vaita Guillaume, who finished tied for 11th, is the lone PGA TOUR-sanctioned golfer from French Polynesia … Ben Polland, who finished tied for 18th, has played the last five PGA Championships as a club professional … Canadian Ben Silverman, who missed eight straight cuts to start the year on the Web.com Tour, finished tied for ninth … Fellow Canadian Lucas Kim, who drove all the way from Toronto, Ontario to Springfield, Missouri to compete in a Web.com Tour event this summer and once shot a 59 in competition, finished tied for 11th.
Notables to miss: Former U.S. Amateur champion Steven Fox finished T34, five shots back of the cut … Ryan Gildersleeve, who was the medalist at his First Stage qualifier, finished 24th, two shots back … The two amateurs who made Second Stage – Santiago Gomez and Miller Capps – both missed the cut.
McKinney, Texas (TPC Craig Ranch)
By Adam Stanley
Seventy-seven players competed for 19 spots. Medalist was Dawie van der Walt of South Africa. Van der Walt fired a fourth-round, 7-under-par 65, which catapulted him to 23-under for the tournament. He captured medalist honors by two shots. Van der Walt finished 171st on the FedExCup, after earning a spot on the PGA TOUR thanks to two Web.com Tour victories in 2015, including the season-opening Chile Classic.
Notables to advance: Oliver Goss – who was born in England, raised in Australia, and went to the University of Tennessee – finished runner-up. He was 104th on the Web.com Tour money list this year … Drew Weaver finished third. He won on Mackenzie Tour-PGA TOUR Canada in 2015 and made eight cuts on the Web.com Tour this year … Brandon Harkins finished tied for fourth. He notched three top-10 finishes on PGA TOUR Latinoamerica this year, and was T59 at the U.S. Open … Ethan Tracy finished tied for seventh. He also played in the U.S. Open this year … Kurt Kitayama made his professional debut on the Web.com Tour in 2016. He finished tied for 17th.
Notables to miss: Joey Garber – roommates with 2016 Web.com Tour winner Rick Lamb, and who finished T2 at his First Stage site – finished T30 and was two shots back of the cut … Gunner Wiebe, son of PGA TOUR winner Mark Wiebe, finished tied for 36th … Canadian James Love, who shot 59 at his First Stage site, finished tied for 36th and missed the cut by four shots … The lone amateur in the field, Sean Walsh, shot 6-under-par 66 in his final round, but finished tied for 59th and was six shots back of the cut.