Q-school round-up: Taylor continues progression

Stan Badz/PGA TOUR
Former No. 1 amateur Nick Taylor is gunning for Web.com Tour status.
December 15, 2013
By Sean Martin, PGATOUR.COM

LA QUINTA, Calif. – Nick Taylor was the world’s No. 1 amateur in 2009, including an impressive showing at the U.S. Open where he was low amateur (T-36) after a second-round 65 that tied the tournament record for low round by an amateur. He turned pro in 2010, but has yet to earn status on the Web.com Tour or PGA TOUR. That will change after this week. Taylor was exempt into Q-school’s final stage by virtue of finishing seventh on the PGA TOUR Canada Order of Merit in 2013. He had five top-10s in nine starts on that circuit this year.

He’s T-23 after four rounds at Q-School, including a fourth-round 67 at PGA West's Nicklaus Tournament Course that gave him a 10-under 278 total.

All players at Q-School's final stage earn Web.com Tour status. The top 45 and ties after six rounds are exempt through the first two reshuffles of the Web.com Tour season. The tour reshuffles, i.e., re-ranks players based on current season earnings, after every four events.

Taylor said struggles crept into his game during his senior season at the University of Washington.

“My game really just wasn’t great, wasn’t where I wanted it when I first turned pro and struggled from there,” Taylor, 25, said. “The driver is really what I’ve struggled with, which was my strength in college. It’s come back. I’ve driven it well the past few months, and that’s what has been good out here.

“I’ve been patient. It’s obviously been frustrating at times, but each year I think I’ve progressively gotten better and that’s what you want. To be able to move up to the (Web.com Tour) is a good step.”

LEADER: Scott Pinckney holds the 72-hole lead at Q-School at 21-under 267 (68-67-67-65). His 65 matched the low round of the day at the Nicklaus Tournament Course. The 24-year-old, who turned pro in 2011 out of Arizona State, has made just three bogeys in four rounds. Pinckney, who was born in Provo, Utah, played the European and Challenge tours in 2012 before returning to play the Web.com Tour in 2013. He made just one cut in seven starts. He’s already played in two majors in his young career, missing the cut at the 2011 U.S. Open and 2012 Open Championship.

He is one shot ahead of Scotland’s Jimmy Gunn, who shot 66 on Sunday. Steve Saunders is two shots back; he led for much of the day before finishing bogey-double bogey to shoot 70.

BURGOON RISING: Bronson Burgoon was in good form as Q-school drew near, finishing no worse than eighth in his past four starts on PGA TOUR Latinoamerica, including three top-three finishes.

That form has carried over to Q-school; he shot 66 on Sunday and is in seventh place after four rounds.

“It was good to finally start playing well, start playing like myself, this year,” Burgoon said. “It’s been close for a while now and it’s finally starting to come together.”

Burgoon played college golf at Texas A&M, where he was the hero of the team’s NCAA championship team. On the tournament’s final hole, he hit wedge within inches of the hole to make birdie and clinch victory in the match-play format. He turned pro in 2010 after finishing his degree, then embarked on the mini-tours.

“It’s really tough,” Burgoon said of mini-tour life. “You really have to stay positive. It’s the road I had to take, and that most have to take.”

SLIDING: Chris Epperson held a four-shot lead after Q-school’s first two rounds. He’s now just three shots inside the all-important top 45 and ties. Epperson opened Q-school 65-63, but has shot 76-73 the past two rounds and is now tied for 17th place. He was bogey-free in the first two rounds, but has eight bogeys and a double-bogey in his past two rounds.

RECOVERING: Q-school’s six rounds allow players plenty of time to recover a poor round. Zack Fischer is in contention after a first-round 75 at the TPC Stadium Course. He was 18 under on his next three rounds (67-66-65) and is now tied for seventh at 15-under 273. Fischer has nearly as many eagles (two) as bogeys (three) in his past three rounds. He also has 17 birdies in his past three rounds after making just one in his first round.

TEAMMATES: Max Homa and Michael Kim were college teammates some six months ago. On Sunday, they were playing together in Q-school’s second-to-last group. Homa shot 69 and is tied for fifth at 16-under 272, while Kim was one shot higher and is tied for seventh at 273. Homa had four birdies and one bogey, at the par-4 ninth hole, on Sunday. It ended a streak of 50 consecutive holes without a bogey. Kim is competing as an amateur this week.

DIVOTS: Mexico’s Sebastian Vazquez shot the low round of the day, a 9-under 63 at the TPC Stadium Course, to move from 135th to T-65. He was 4 over after 54 holes, but made nine birdies, an eagle and two bogeys Saturday. Sam Saunders, the grandson of Arnold Palmer, shot 64 on Sunday at the TPC Stadium to jump 44 spots on the leaderboard to T-17. … Si Woo Kim, who earned a PGA TOUR card last year at PGA West as a 17-year-old, matched the low round of the day on the Nicklaus Tournament Course (65) to jump 38 spots on the leaderboard to T-23. … Tyler McCumber, who turned pro this year after an All-American career at Florida, was in 14th place after Q-school’s first two rounds thanks to rounds of 68-69. He’s shot 12-over 156 (75-81) in his past two rounds, though, and is now tied for 135th.