Preview: Second Stage of Q-School (Texas site)
October 29, 2019
By Zephyr Melton, PGATOUR.COM
- October 29, 2019
- After getting through the First Stage of Q-School, Chase Koepka finished T46 at THE CJ CUP. (Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)
Even with the leaves starting to turn and the weather cooling down, Q-School is only just heating up. With Pre-Qualifying and First Stage in the rearview, the page flips to the all-important Second Stage.
All stages of Q-School are crucial, but getting through Second Stage holds even more importance than any other for many competitors.
Yes, getting to Final Stage is a huge accomplishment and gets a player one step closer to the PGA TOUR, but, more importantly, everyone who makes it to Final Stage secures Korn Ferry Tour membership for the following year. Even with a last-place finish at Final Stage, a player holds some sort of conditional status -- and can improve that status by gaining event entry via a Monday qualifier or sponsor’s invitation and then making a cut.
Second Stage is where hopes of the PGA TOUR are kindled even further, or a place where those hopes are dashed. It all starts this week at TPC Craig Ranch in McKinney, Texas, the first of five Second Stage sites across the country over the next two weeks.
Here are four things to watch this week in Texas.
Veterans looking for redemption
With a clean slate to begin Q-School, everyone is equal. What happened in the past doesn’t matter. But even though that may be the case, some veterans can lean on their previous experiences to guide them through the grueling nature of Q-School. Tag Ridings heads to Second Stage just two years removed from playing on the PGA TOUR in 2016-17. He’s joined by fellow former TOUR player Rick Lamb, the lefty who also spent the 2017 season on the PGA TOUR. Perhaps they can channel that veteran experience into calming the Q-School nerves.
Young guns on the rise
On the flip side are young players hoping to be Korn Ferry Tour rookies in 2020. Some of the notables in this category include former collegiate standouts Zach Bauchou, Chandler Phillips and Nick Hardy. Bauchou was a former standout for Oklahoma State, competing alongside current TOUR players Matthew Wolff, Viktor Hovland and Kristoffer Ventura when they won the 2018 NCAA Championship. Phillips enjoyed a stellar career at Texas A&M where he was a three-time All-SEC selection and set the program record for individual wins (7). Hardy was an All-American at Illinois and won 2018 Big Ten Player of the Year. All three have an excellent chance of making Final Stage in what is a talented field at TPC Craig Ranch.
Koepka in the field
No, not that Koepka, but his brother, Chase. Koepka has taken his brother’s professional golf path up to this point in his career, competing on the Challenge Tour and then on the European Tour. But now, the younger brother of the current World No. 1 is trying to gain Korn Ferry Tour membership on his way to the PGA TOUR. He certainly has the game for it. After a successful First Stage of Q-School, Koepka competed in THE CJ CUP, finishing T46 in a strong field that featured some of the top players in the world. Now he looks to take the next step required if he wants to compete on that stage every week.
Make-or-break final hole
Every hole matters, but the final hole at Q-School sometimes feels like it matters a little more. Everything is amplified at Q-School and the final hole can make or break a player’s plans for the next year. Dru Love, son of TOUR veteran Davis Love III, knows this all too well. Last year, he three-putted the final hole to miss at Second Stage by a single shot. Just a few weeks ago at First Stage, AJ McInerney lived a similar horror story to Love’s. But the final hole can also represent one last opportunity for glory. Juan Guerra made a clutch 20-footer to advance past First Stage just a few weeks ago in Georgia. The final hole is truly make-or-break. Players, caddies, agents, coaches, all say the same thing: the tension is palpable at Q-School, unlike anything else in golf. The final hole only amplifies that pressure.