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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Q School Primer - Part 2

When we left off yesterday, we had identified the types of players in the Final Stage of Q School as well as a handful of guys who stand an excellent chance at earning one of the roughly 25 PGA TOUR cards up for grabs. Today we will highlight more players who stand a better than average chance of furthering their career at the game's highest level, as well as a few dark horses that aren't familiar to mainstream golfing fans.

Once again in no particular order, I like:
  • Brendon Todd - He was last year's medalist at this venue. He didn't have a great 2012, but is known for a putter that can be streaky-good.
  • Rod Pampling - He's been on TOUR since graduating via the Web.com Tour in 2001, but is here due to his 127th spot on the money list. He made six of his last seven cuts to finish the season, but has never advanced to the TOUR via Q School.
  • Gary Christian - It took him longer than most to earn a TOUR card, and his 2012 rookie season was a moderate success (130th on the money list). He also made eight of his last nine cuts. That said, he's had many attempts to conquer the final stage of Q School in his career and has never been successful.
  • Tom Pernice - Beware the cagy veteran.
  • Alex Cejka - A veteran of 267 PGA TOUR events and owning two runner-ups, the German last advanced to the TOUR via Q School in 2006. He made seven (of 12) cuts this season including his last two.
  • Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano - One of several European Tour stars taking aim at 2013 status in the States, GFC spent most of 2012 inside the European Ryder Cup automatic zone before falling out late. That said, his limited starts in the U.S. produced less than desirable results.
  • Alexandre Rocha - Slipped through Q School with a T24 last year and made 11 of 21 cuts. He was feast-or-famine, as he owned two top-four finishes but nothing else better than a T49 in his other 19 starts. If he's hot, he is as dangerous as anyone.
  • Kelly Kraft - A promising young star and the 2011 U.S. Amateur champion.
  • Danny Lee - Another former U.S. Am champ, he had a disappointing rookie year on TOUR, but did manage top 30s in two of his last three starts.
  • Kris Blanks - Injuries are a huge question mark, but he blitzed the Second Stage after not having competed since mid-July. He told PGA TOUR Radio on Monday that the first time he had hit a driver since his injury was four days prior to the Second Stage, and he will need to pick his spots in the 108-hole finale.
  • Nick O'Hern - He's a world-class Aussie who finished 2012 making four of his last six cuts to sneak inside the top 150. This is his first Q School finale.
  • Bill Lunde - Went three for four in the Fall Series including a 5th at the JT Shriners to finish 133 in the money. He's been fully exempt since graduating from the Web.com in 2008.
  • Robert Karlsson - Another world-class European, but he did not play all that well in the U.S. this season and fell to the Second Stage.
  • Ben Martin - A TOUR rookie in 2011, he finished third in the final full-field Web.com event to crack the top 60. He was a Q School grad in his first try in 2010.
  • Alexander Noren - I'm a broken record, but another Euro staple.
  • Nicholas Thompson - Already earned a card via Web.com Tour, but trying to improve his number. Tied for 63rd here last December.
  • Jim Herman - Missed out by a shot here last year, and earned his 2012 card already via a 25th-place finish on the Web.com Tour money list. He lives on the bubble, but anything is better than  his current number.
  • Rafeal Cabrera Bello - It's not often the 53rd-ranked player in the world is in Q School, but here he is after making the trip from Dubai.
  • Derek Fathauer - He's done well in past Q Schools, including a runner-up in 2008 and a T30 last year at this venue.
  • Adam Hadwin - Was 30th on Web.com Tour money list and has made some noise in his few TOUR starts to date.
  • Matt Jones - He was 38th last year and has a knack for teasing us with promise in events like this only to fall short of expectations during the season.
  • Scott Brown - He was 148th on the money list in his rookie year of 2012, but performed very well in opposite field events. His Q School record isn't all that impressive, but you can't deny his success against weak fields.
  • Vaughn Taylor - Tied for fifth in last year's final stage at PGA West, but hasn't had a top 40 since June.
  • Kevin Kisner - Mad some noise a time or two on TOUR, and he was T11 here last year.
Here are a few dark horses. While I don't know everyone in the field, here are a few I'm familiar with that are trending well that you may not know:
  • Stephen Poole - He was a Web.com Tour regular in 2010, but didn't make much noise. He birdies his final hole in the First Stage of Q School to advance on the number and repeated the feat on the 72nd hole of stage two to stay two clear of the number.
  • Bryden MacPherson - The 2011 British Amateur winner is a University of Georgia Produce, and we know how Harris English and Brian Harman did in 2012.
  • Joey Snyder - He's been trying to return to form on a medical extension and missed his first seven cuts of 2012 before finishing a surprising T9 at the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals Classic to finish the year.
  • William Murchison III - A PGA pro who earned a spot in the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island, he's advanced through the first two stages and has his sights set on the ultimate prize.
  • Phillip Mollica - Turned in top 25s in his last four Egolf Tour starts including a runner-up at the Northstone Open in October.
  • Kevin Tway - Bob's son was two of four on the Web.com Tour including a T5 and a T51 in the last two full-field events.
  • Matt Hill - Had a promising amateur career that hasn't panned out yet, but the talent is there.
A few other facts to know:
  • Last year's place to be was tied for 13th. Every member of that group retained their card and included Roberto Castro, William McGirt, Charlie Beljan, Harris English and Jeff Maggert.
  • The cut line was 8-under for the PGA TOUR and 2-under for full exemption on the Web.com Tour before the first reshuffle.
  • Many of the guys who finished in the 126-150 category on the PGA TOUR ended the year strong, and will not limp into Q School.
Best of luck to all!

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