Back to school

Jobs are on the line

Attention shifts to one my favorite events of the year, the finals of Tour Q-School, where 150 players will jostle for playing status on next year’s Tour at Orlando’s Orange County National.

What’s Q-School?

For those unfamiliar with the Q-School format, here’s a quick rundown of what it’s all about. If you’re an expert, just move on down to the next section. Tour Q-School is the traditional and most common route for an aspiring PGA Tour professional to earn a spot on the Tour and potentially earn their PGA Tour card with strong play. 

The Q-School journey started early in the fall as untested players have to advance through one of 6 pre-qualifying sites. From there, the advancing players from pre-qualifying are joined by a large mass of professional players at 12 different 1st stage qualifying sites. At each 1st stage site, roughly the top third of each field earns a spot in the high-pressure 2nd stage. 

2nd stage is where the advancing players are joined by a few select professionals that meet criteria that allow them to bypass 1st stage. 2nd stage is the ultimate grind. The stakes are high, those who make it through are guaranteed at least conditional status on the Tour, and those that don’t will spend the season on their favorite mini-tour. There are 5 different 2nd stage sites across the country with roughly 80 players each and about 20 players advancing from each site over 72 holes. At final stage, the 100 or so players that make it through 2nd stage are joined by numbers 76-100 on the 2016 Tour Money List, and the top players from the Latin American Tour, Canadian Tour and China Tour. Check out all of the results from pre-qualifying through 2nd stage here.

Back to the Final Stage 

Diving into the final stage of Q-School, golf fans will find a wide range of names. Among the list are the latest can’t-miss young players like Michael Johnson, established PGA Tour veterans who had a rough season like former PGA Tour winner and Rookie of the Year Chesson Hadley, and even can’t-miss players from a yesteryear like Casey Wittenberg. 
What you need to know....

The Final Stage is all about locking up full status on the Tour for the 2017 Tour season. Only the top 45 and ties over 72 holes will be assured starts this year. Here’s a breakdown of what different finishes mean:

1st - Full-Time playing status for the entire 2017 season and a $50,000 winner’s check
2nd-10th (and ties) - Guaranteed playing status through the 3rd reshuffle and $15,000
11th-45th (and ties) - Guaranteed playing status through the 2nd reshuffle and $10,000
45th & worse - Conditional status and no guaranteed starts. Reliant on sponsors exemptions, Monday qualifying and low-attended fields

5 players we’ve got our eyes on

Now that we got through all the schematics of the event, here are 5 guys that we are watching this week. 

Vince India - This is a homer pick as Vince is a friend of the fried egg and appeared on our podcast last week. India heads into Q-School in top form after a t3rd finish at last week’s Latin American Tour Championship. 

Michael Johnson - In his professional debut at the PGA Tour’s 2016 Barbasol Championship, Johnson finished in solo 3rd place, just one shot out of a playoff. Cool last name too.

Alex Moon - Jordan Spieth’s long-time roommate looks to earn full-time playing status and eventually a spot on the big tour with his roomie.

Drew Weaver - The 2007 U.S. Amateur champion and 2009 Walker Cup team member will look to get his once promising career back on track as he closes in on his 30th birthday.

Nick Flanagan - Another former U.S. Amateur champion (2003), Flanagan has had a perplexing career. Flanagan was the 2007 Nationwide Tour (now Tour) Player of the Year and has 4 career wins on the tour, but his success on the hasn’t carried over to the PGA Tour just yet.

The latest podcast

With things a little too quiet on the PGA Tour for us, we chatted with PGA Tour player Zac Blair about his life on tour, his dream of building The Buck Club and a lot of golf course architecture. Give it a listen on the website or on iTunes.

What about the PGA Tour?

A select few of the PGA Tour’s best are in Naples for the annual Franklin Templeton Shootout at Tiburon Golf Club. 12 two-person teams will tee it up for 3 rounds of competition with the teams playing a scramble on Thursday, alternate shot on Friday and better ball for Saturday’s final round. 

This year’s competition will feature LPGA Tour star Lexi Thompson, who will team up with Bryson DeChambeau (who has a new putting schtick) and become the second-ever female to peg it in the event following Annika Sorenstam in 2006. Other teams of note include SB buds Justin Thomas and Smylie Kaufman, defending champions Jason Dufner and Brandt Snedeker, Gary Woodland and Mike Weir (sorry Gary), and the odd pairing of budding 23-year-old star Daniel Berger and the 46-year-old vet K.J. Choi… I really wonder how that one happened.

Ask an Architect: Edition 2

Due to the popularity of the “Ask an Architect” piece we published in November, we’ve decided to make it a monthly thing. So without further ado, here’s December’s Ask an Architect

Headed to Hong Kong

The European Tour (which surprisingly rarely plays in Europe), heads to Hong Kong for the Hong Kong Open. The event is headlined by defending champion Justin Rose, who is nursing a bad back that forced him to WD after one round of last week’s Hero World Challenge. It will be interesting to see how Rose’s back fairs this week as he is joined by American superstar Patrick Reed, Masters Champion Danny Willett and everyone’s favorite Englishman Ian Poulter (that last part was a joke). 

Quick Hooks

Think Tiger Woods moves the needle? The ratings prove it.

Check out our latest PGA Tour player profile on the late bloomer, Smylie Kaufman.

DJ wins Player of the Year, here’s Alan Shipnuck’s feature piece.

An all time great tweet.

Bjorn named Euro Ryder Cup captain for ‘18.

Featured Tweet

A fresh pod

Soly sits down with hot-take king Tron Carter to talk Tiger’s return, world rankings, Hideki Matsuyama and golf courses. Website link - iTunes link.

We all know the feeling

Not much rivals the feeling of a purely struck golf ball. Unfortunately for most of us, it doesn’t happen enough. Here's the shirt.


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