WEB.COM TOUR INSIDER
Takeaways: Gligic, Coletta among players to secure starts via Final Stage
December 12, 2018
By Adam Stanley, PGATOUR.COM
- Canada's Michael Gligic finished T13 at Final Stage of Q-School to secure eight Web.com Tour starts in 2019. (Stan Badz/PGA TOUR)
There was no shortage of drama at Final Stage of the Web.com Tour Qualifying Tournament, which wrapped up Sunday in Arizona.
Twenty players shot 8-under or better in the final round at Whirlwind GC (field divided between The Cattail and Devil’s Claw), many of whom managed to move inside the top-40 on the leaderboard and earn at least eight starts on the Web.com Tour in 2019.
With the final event of the Web.com Tour year now firmly in the rearview, here are the key takeaways from the week that was.
Onwards, now, to 2019.
With professional golf as a whole getting more and more global, it should come as no surprise that multiple countries were represented in the top-40 on the leaderboard when all was said and done Sunday.
Seven countries (outside the United States) were represented by 14 players to earn at least eight guaranteed starts on the Web.com Tour in 2019.
After the United States, Australia was the nation with the most representatives as Steven Alker, Brett Coletta, Jamie Arnold and Tim Wilkinson all earned eight starts.
Canada and China tied for the second-most representatives, with three players each securing starts via the top-40 on the leaderboard.
Canadians Michael Gligic and Albin Choi earned eight starts, while Brad Fritsch – a former Web.com Tour winner and Q-School medalist – shot 10-under par on Sunday to move into T8 and earn 12 starts.
China’s Xinjun Zhang and Andy Zhang also earned 12 starts, while their countryman Yechun Yuan earned eight starts.
The other countries represented include:
• South Africa (Oliver Bekker – 12 starts)
• Mexico (Oscar Fraustro – eight starts)
• Argentina (Andres Gallegos – eight starts)
• South Korea (Todd Baek – eight starts)
SKY'S THE LIMIT FOR WALKER
It’s become commonplace for Danny Walker to show up for the biggest event of the year.
First, Walker fired rounds of 63-68-66-64 to capture the Freedom 55 Financial Championship, the final event of the Mackenzie Tour-PGA TOUR Canada season. It was the biggest winner’s check of the year in Canada, and it vaulted him to seventh on the money list, earning a spot in Final Stage.
From there, he made 33 birdies at Final Stage – the most in the field – en route to finishing at 27-under-par in Arizona and winning medalist honors.
After a decorated career at the University of Virginia, Walker will certainly be one to watch in 2019, as he has proven he can step up on the biggest of stages and make birdies in bunches.
TOP-40, OVER 40
Brad Fritsch knows what it takes to win Q-School, and the 41-year-old (former Q-School medalist) proved that again Sunday with a 10-under-par 62. That round was his lowest in competition, and it tied for the low round of the day. The Canadian will now have 12 guaranteed starts on the Web.com Tour in 2019.
Fellow 40-somethings who finished inside that magic number on the leaderboard included American Steve LeBrun (40) and a pair of Australians – Tim Wilkinson (40) and the oldest person to earn guaranteed starts, 47-year-old Steven Alker.
When it comes to firing a low round, there’s no time like the present, especially at Final Stage of Q-School.
Brad Fritsch, Tim Wilkinson and Steve LeBrun (all veterans over 40) shot 10-under-par 62 on Sunday to move up 29, 50 and 49 spots on the leaderboard, respectively, to earn at least eight starts in 2019. Wilkinson’s 50-spot jump was the most of anyone in the final round.
Two other players shot 62, but with how stiff the competition was at Final Stage, neither Benjamin Alvarado nor Rafael Becker earned guaranteed starts.
Medalist Danny Walker was one of five golfers to shoot 9-under on Sunday, but the most dramatic of those five came from Cody Blick.
Blick’s clubs got stolen (Click here to read more about Blick’s wild Sunday) prior to the final round, and the San Jose State alum cobbled together a set that included random irons, a putter that was too long and too heavy, wedges from the pro shop, and the superintendent’s driver. His 9-under (which included three-straight birdies to close out the day) moved him up 49 spots on the leaderboard.
Ten players shot 8-under on Sunday, and four of them – including 2017 Final Stage medalist Lee McCoy – moved into guaranteed-start territory.
It just goes to show: a player is never truly out of it at Final Stage.
OUTSIDE LOOKING IN
Despite the jubilation of many after Final Stage – veterans, college stars, upstart professionals and more comprised an eclectic mix of golfers who finished in the top-40 – there were some notables who left with Web.com Tour status, but no guarantees for starts to begin 2019.
Some notes –
Brock Mackenzie: Trying to complete a comeback from a horrific back injury in 2017, Mackenzie, who finished 98th on the 2018 Web.com Tour money list, finished T50. He was one shot back of earning eight starts, and hinted to PGA TOUR Digital prior to Final Stage that this may be it for the 37-year-old.
Luke Guthrie: A two-time winner on the Web.com Tour (both in 2012), Guthrie had been a staple on the PGA TOUR from 2013-16. He finished T64.
Charlie Saxon: Saxon finished just￥2,000 (the Chinese currency, or about $290) behind PGA TOUR China Order of Merit winner Callum Tarren, who earned full Web.com Tour status for 2019. The all-time money earner on PGA TOUR China, Saxon finished T74 at Final Stage.
Ryan Brehm: Winner of the 2016 WinCo Foods Portland Open presented by Kraft-Heinz, he was a university golf coach before pursuing professional golf. He finished T74.
Braden Thornberry: Star collegiate and amateur golfer Thornberry – he was No. 1 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking and holds the Ole Miss school record for wins, with 11 – shot a 10-under 62 in the first round of Final Stage but couldn’t get anything going after that. Finished T74, and his professional golf future remains TBD.
George Cunningham: Earned more than $100,000 on the Mackenzie Tour this year (the first player to do so and not win the Order of Merit title) on the heels of one win and five top-five finishes. A member of ‘The Five’ in Canada, he finished T74 at Final Stage.
Kristoffer Ventura: It was a valiant effort by Ventura, who helped Oklahoma State to this year’s NCAA title. He had emergency appendix surgery less than two weeks prior to Final Stage, and played despite not being at 100 percent health. He shot a final-round 68 but finished T129.