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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Q School Graduate Projections

As was done with the Nationwide Tour graduates, today I will offer some thoughts and predictions on where the Q School grads will finish on the PGA Tour in 2012.  It's probably a little tougher to predict where they will finish since to be in Q School it means they had an average year or worse on the Nationwide Tour, a below average year on the PGA Tour, or spent most of their time on lower level tours. 

Things to avoid are falling in love with one good round and overlooking an entire previous 12-month body of work.  Safer picks are guys who finished in the conditional category (126 to 150) on the PGA Tour money list, guys who finished just outside the Top 25 on the Nationwide Tour money list and guys who finished high enough to get some early West Coast Swing starts on the PGA Tour in 2012. 

I would also encourage you to keep an eye on http://www.pgatour.com/ in the coming days, as I'm sure Rob Bolton will have his picks up soon.

Here are the Q School graduates in order of finish as well as my projection and comments.
  • Brendon Todd - History is generally kind to medalists more times than not which goes in Todd's favor.  What doesn't go in his favor is his past history both on the PGA Tour and Nationwide Tour.  After some terrible years, he did manage to finish 84th on this year's Nationwide Tour, so maybe some of his reported swing changes are rounding him into form.  I've got to see more.  I'm going to cautiously put him in the 126 to 150 range based solely on the number of starts he will get.
  • Stephen Gangluff - 120th in 25 Nationwide Tour starts doesn't give me any confidence.  Nice week at Q School, but probably fool's gold.  151+
  • Bobby Gates - Nice rookie year on the PGA Tour, barely missing his card.  Switched to the belly putter which seems to be like a magic potion for most golfers.  I'll put him in the Top 125.
  • Seung-yul Noh - Already a polished professional at 20, the question won't be his playing ability as much as his ability to adapt to the U.S.  It will only take a handful of really nice weeks, and I think he may have that in him.  I'll take him in the Top 125.
  • Tommy Biershenk - A little disclaimer, TGA is a Clemson graduate like Biershenk and actually grew up in the same home town as Biershenk.  The Spartanburg County (South Carolina) Amateur Tournament reads like a Biershenk family tree with Tommy's father Tommy, and his brothers Robbie (The Big Break) and Nick (former Clemson golfer and Limestone College golf coach) making up a golf dynasty.  It's long been known locally that Tommy is an excellent ball striker and a streaky putter with the main thing holding him back resting between the ears.  He has seemed to be in an excellent place for the past 12 months and frequently goes on hot streaks after spending time with his coach down in Bull's Bay (Charleston area).  He's also won a ton on the Hooter's Tour and Egolf Tour over the past 5 years.  If he can get off to a good start (I think the Sony Open suits his game), he could have a really good year.  If he gets off to a slow start and loses confidence in himself, he will have a tough time recovering.  Partially with my heart and partially with my head I'll take him in the Top 125.
  • Vaughn Taylor - Former Ryder Cupper and tour winner, Taylor fell on hard times this year.  Q School sets up well for him due to the number of rounds and the value of par, but there are only certain courses where Taylor's length renders him irrelevant.  I'll take him in the 126 to 150 category.
  • Jarrod Lyle - If he was a professional baseball player, he would be the "AAAA" player.  Too good for Triple-A, but never can quite stick in the Majors.  As I said in my Q School preview, I'm pulling for Lyle and hope he takes another step.  I'll take him in the 126-150 range.
  • Bob Estes - He's had a nice career to be sure, but his best days are behind him.  151+
  • Brian Harmon - Harmon had a great amateur career, but like many very good college golfers has spent several years on the mini tour circuit.  This past year on the Egolf Tour, he finished 10th on the money list and had 3 top 3 finishes.  I worry about a golfer making a jump straight from the mini tour circuit to the PGA Tour without success on the Nationwide Tour.  151+
  • Marco Dawson - Career journeyman with a ton of PGA Tour and Nationwide starts, he's not the guy I would normally expect big things from.  He did, however, finish 32nd on the Nationwide Tour money list and looked really good for the first 5 days of Q School.  I'll reluctantly take him in the 126-150 range.
  • Sang-Moon Bae - Currently the 30th ranked player in the world (AKA the highest ranked player you've never heard of) he should get a ton of starts, and he's played well on big stages.  Like Noh, I have no idea how he'll adjust to the culture, but how can I not take him to finish Top 125?
  • Kevin Kisner - He didn't have a very good PGA Tour rookie season, so it's hard to project if a second stint will fare any better for him.  He's not a long hitter at all, and his accuracy didn't bail him out much either leading to poor GIR numbers.  Familiarity could be on his side, but I have to say 151+.
  • Roberto Castro - The dilemma here is I picked him to finish 151+ in the Nationwide Tour projections, but he's moderately improved his number of starts by Q School.  I still don't know if I believe he will be a top 125 player, but I could see him in the 126-150.  I'll cautiously stick with 151+.
  • Will McGirt - Another disclaimer, TGA went to middle and high school with McGirt's wife.  McGirt accomplished something last year that is probably the hardest thing to learn how to do, and that's make cuts on the PGA Tour.  He didn't play weekends very well, but if he continues to progress at this rate, he could have a very nice year.  Top 125
  • Jeff Maggert - Steady but never spectacular in a Q School format, he'll need to either cash in on some tougher courses or play with a little more flash.  It's tough to call a guy with this kind of a track record on the PGA Tour.  There's a reason he was in Q School this year; 126-150.
  • Charlie Beljan - My feelings with Beljan are very similar to Harmon.  I think he would have really benefited from a year on the Nationwide Tour.  151+
  • Harris English - There seems to be one of these every year.  A hot shot college golfer who gets through on the first time and everyone expects never will look back.  Some don't (Jeff Overton for example), but some take a little longer to get their sea legs (Cameron Tringale, Billy Horshel).  English did win on the Nationwide Tour while still an amateur and played well out there after turning professional.  His long term prospects are very strong, but this year is a toss up.  I'll take him.....Top 125.
  • Patrick Sheehan - He didn't have a very good year on the Nationwide Tour in 2011 and has never really lit it up on the PGA Tour.  151+
  • Scott Dunlop - Q School format is favorable for veterans and journeymen more so than the PGA Tour itself.  At 48 years old to boot, I can't take him. 151+
  • Greg Owen - I will always remember Owen as the guy who had the monumental putting choke job at Bay Hill, but to be in that position he had to play well for about 70 holes in a prestigious tournament.  He also had a moderately successful year on the Nationwide Tour coming in at 52nd.  I'll bet on the Englishman having another run left in him.  Top 125
  • Daniel Summerhays - Call it a gut feeling, but something feels right about Summerhays.  He's got a year on tour under his belt, and I expect he may break out in 2012.  Top 125
  • Will Claxton - I didn't like how he went falling down the leaderboard on the last two days of Q School.  This leaves serious questions about if he can finish off tournaments after making cuts or if he can finish par/par on his last two holes to make a cut when he knows where he is.  151+
  • Edward Loar - He did next to nothing on the Nationwide Tour in 2011 and took advantage of two of the best scoring dates to slide in and get his card.  I'm not a buyer.  151+
  • Mark Anderson - Barely qualified through both the Nationwide Tour and Q School, I see this as a step in a process for him that won't be fully completed in 2012.  He should make some cuts and not go broke, but I still don't like him to do enough to avoid another trip to Q School; and not just because he's a Gamecock.  151+
  • Alexandre Rocha - He didn't show much on the PGA Tour in 2011 and doesn't have a very good number for 2012.  It's an uphill battle.  151+
  • Richard H Lee - He managed to crack the top 40 on his first year on the Nationwide Tour and fought like crazy the last two rounds of Q School to advance, including back-to-back final round birdies.  Lack of early starts will hurt him, but he's got a flair for the dramatic and might scratch out a decent year.  126-150
  • John Huh - At 21 years young, he really could benefit from a year on the Nationwide Tour, and with his number being so low, it's likely he'll make 8 to 12 starts on that tour anyway.  151+
  • Nathan Green - I don't trust his game right now.  He's had some very solid years in the not too distant past, but it took a miracle final round in Q School.  151+
  • Colt Knost - I'm a Colt Knost fan, but he's got a tough number to deal with and not a lot of great PGA Tour history to deal with.  You can basically copy my comments about Jarrod Lyle here too.  Daniel Summerhays is the third "triplet" of this group.  My gut feeling is just the strongest with Summerhays.  Knost 151+
Final Stats - Top 125 - (7), 126-150 (6), 151+ (15)

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