Mark Walker leads at halfway point of PGA TOUR Champions Q-School
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Rick Garboski within one stroke of leader
Written by Julie Nelson @ChampionsTour
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Mark Walker, who started the day at T2 5-under, posted a bogey-free round that included four birdies and an eagle to take the lead at 11-under 131 after the second round of the PGA TOUR Champions Qualifying Tournament (Final Stage) with two rounds to play.
“I’m not actually hitting it that well,” Walker said. “I’m hitting it in the fairway for the most part and I’m around the green, but I’m just putting outstanding.”
Walker added: “My caddie and I are reading the lines. It seems like every time we get a putt, we know exactly what it’s doing so it’s pretty simple now. I’m going to go to the range and work on it here a bit and hopefully get the balls tracking a little bit better and maybe shoot a better score tomorrow.”
Rick Garboski, who has made one career start on PGA TOUR Champions, carded a 9-under 62, posting the lowest score from the second round. After three bogeys on his score card in the first round, he made a big jump in the second round, with seven birdies and an eagle on no. 18 to end the day in solo second at 10-under 132.
“I was hoping to shoot 4 or 5-under today to climb back close and just went nuts today,” Garboski said. “This 18th hole is so tough and to make a 2 here…I would’ve taken a 4 and not even played the hole. I played well yesterday. I just didn’t make any putts. Today, we made a lot of putts. With the level of play out here, that’s really the only difference. Guys make putts and they are at the top of the leaderboard. If they don’t make putts, they’re not. That’s just the way it works out here. It’s early. We’re halfway. Long way to go, I haven’t done a damn thing right now. We have to play great the next two days.”
Garboski, who plays out of Westlake Village, CA, made one start on PGA TOUR Champions earlier this season after Monday qualifying at the Hoag Classic. His appearance is a memorable one. He was penalized two strokes in the second round under the One Ball Rule after discovering he had run out of the Titleist Pro V1x Left Dash golf balls of which he was utilizing. The local club pro had given several balls as souvenirs to young fans throughout the week and he forgot to replenish prior to the second round of competition. It was the happiest penalty he has ever accepted. He proceeded to card a final-round 74 and finish solo 76th at 17-over.
Fran Quinn, Richard Green and Jesus Rivas share a third-place lead with 36 holes remaining in the final stage.
Quinn, 57, finished his round at 7-under after posting six birdies and an eagle to sit 9-under T3.
“Great score, other than the hiccup on 17, I had 110 yards in left short of the green and ended up making bogey so that was disappointing but other than that I played really solid all day,” Quinn said. “I think I played pretty solid yesterday and I thought it played pretty tough. It’s a four day tournament. You go out and try to make as many putts as you can make and hopefully at the end of the week, it adds up to something good. I’m going to go out tomorrow and take care of business and play my game, not worry about anyone else and have fun doing it.”
The Massachusetts native made headlines this summer by qualifying for his home-state U.S. Open at The Country Club, becoming the oldest on record to gain U.S. Open access via both Local and Final Qualifying.
Quinn made four PGA TOUR Champions starts in 2022, highlighted by a T21 at the American Family Insurance Championship, and now he eyes a full schedule in 2023. He finished T4 at First Stage in Mississippi to punch his ticket to TPC Scottsdale.
The Australian native, Richard Green, was six under through the first 12 holes – including four consecutive birdies beginning on the ninth hole – but he played the final six holes even to finish the day with a 6-under 65.
“It’s close and it’s in good shape and that’s all I could hope for after two days just to be in contention,” Green said. “If I could do the same sort of golf again tomorrow and have a chance on the last day, that’s all you can do really and just keep doing my best.”
Green added: “It’s been a long road coming over and getting ready for this event, but I’ve put in the work, so I feel pretty confident in what I’ve done in preparation. I just have to go out and execute now and I feel like I’m doing that which is good. I’m just going to keep doing my best after every shot, stay in the moment, don’t get too far ahead of myself, don’t think about the results, all those things…it just helps you play golf properly so that’s what I will be focusing on.”
At the end of four rounds, the top-5 finishers will be fully exempt into all open, full-field events for PGA TOUR Champions in the 2023 season. In addition, players finishing sixth through 30th will be eligible to apply for PGA TOUR Champions Associate Membership for the 2023 season, which will afford them the opportunity to enter 2023 PGA TOUR Champions weekly event qualifiers.
Tee times for Thursday’s third round will run from 8:30 – 10:40 a.m. off the Nos. 1 and 10 tees at The Champions Course at TPC Scottsdale.
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