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Saturday, November 26, 2011

PGA Tour / Nationwide Tour veterans back in Q School

There are a number of players in Q School that have some PGA Tour experience and successful Nationwide Tour resumes, but just can't seem to get over the hump of long time PGA Tour success.  While probably half of the final stage of Q School falls into this category, I've picked a handful of players to preview and follow this year.

Tommy Biershenk - The older brother of The Big Break's "Shank", Tommy had a very successful year on the Nationwide Tour after a number of successful years on the mini tour circuit.  Tommy also had some success on the Nationwide Tour about a decade ago, but his all around game seems to be in much better shape.  As evidence, he finished 31st on the Nationwide Tour Money List, 15th in Total Driving (TD), 46th in Greens in Regulation (GIR), 33rd in Putts Per Round (PPR), 11th in Putting Average (PA), and 11th in All Around (AA).  He narrowly missed getting through Q School last year and but for a brief cold spell on the Nationwide Tour in an other wise consistent year; he wouldn't need to be here.  If he putt's, he'll get through.

Paul Claxton - The "Georgia Peach" had another nice year on the Nationwide Tour finishing in or around the top 50 in all major statistical categories.  He should come into Q School with a great deal of confidence. 

Nathan Green - He actually could have gone in yesterday's category, as he has a win in 2009 (Canadian Open).  Made 14 of 26 PGA cuts this year, but statiscally was not very good (178th TD, 168 AR, 166 GIR).  He's got to strike the ball better than that this week or the Pete Dye course will eat him up.

Matt Jones - He's always passed the eye test, but even though he finished 133rd on the PGA Money List he only made 10 of 25 cuts.  With the exception of putting (92nd), didn't finish in the top 150 in any significant statistical category. He will have 126th to 150th status no matter what, so he has a solid fall back plan that could free him up to play well, but he will have to have an above average ball striking week.

Colt Knost - Burst on the scene in the U.S. Amateur several years back, he's always played well on the Nationwide Tour and never quite gotten it to work on the PGA Tour.  On the positive, he was 42nd in driving accuracy on the PGA Tour and 55th in putting, but 183 in AR and 171 in GIR.  Putting it in the fairway and making some putts could help him avoid some big numbers and maybe get through.

Jarrod Lyle - I always like a good story and his childhood fights with leukemia (I believe) have always had me pulling for him.  He looks like a carbon copy of Colt Knost on the course physically, but unfortunately for him he also looks like Knost in the GIR (172) and AR (174) category as well.  He did best Colt by 7 spots on the money list last year coming in at 167. 

Bob May - Really didn't play much this past year, but how can you leave him off after almost taking down Tiger in a 4 hole playoff in the PGA a decade ago?

William McGirt - Came in 141st on the PGA Tour Money List and made 19 of 32 cuts.  He was 105th AR, 71st in Putting, 146th in TD and 25th in GIR.  So how did he not finish in the top 125?  32nd in scoring average before the cut, but 128th in final round scoring average.  He couldn't make the good starts hold up.  Learning how to make a cut is a big half of the battle that he figured out.  If he's on the bubble going into the final round it will be interesting to see how his nerves hold up on the Monday back 9. 

James Nitties - Came onto the scene after several years on the mini tours through The Big Break and backed it up by several years on the PGA Tour followed by a win this year on the Nationwide Tour and the unenviable 26th place on the Money List.  A little streaky, but Aussie cool and has the reputation of someone that could drink off a bad day early in the week and move on.  Probably not a bad trait in Q School.

Roland Thatcher - It seems like Roland is always 125th on the PGA Tour money list, but this year came in at 127th after a wacky final day on the leaderboards of the Disney Tournament. Pretty strong all around player with no noticable weaknesses and 126th to 150th status should make for a pretty good combination for the nerves this week.        

3 Most likely to advance - Tommy Biershenk, Roland Thatcher, Will McGirt (with James Nitties and Matt Jones barely missing)

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