There are 216 players in Florida right now on the verge of 6-day golf marathon...at the finish line are 25 PGA Tour Cards...for the next 50 there are Nationwide Tour Cards, and for the rest, a "conditional" status on the Nationwide Tour that could get them some playing time in 2011. But you know what they all want. They want to say "I'm on the PGA Tour in 2011".
Stage1 included just over 1,000 guys...the majority of which were exempt from pre-qualifying based on a set of criteria. These guys competed in another 72-hole event for approximately 300 spots at 13 different locations. If you got to be one of those lucky guys to advance, you were joined by about 150 players who were exempted into Stage 2. Those guys had some sort of success in the last year that allowed them to skip stage 1, so the field got stronger in a hurry.
Only about 120 advanced out of stage 2 into the Finals. Which means around 100 guys were exempted into the Finals, most of them being current PGA Tour players outside of the Top 125 on the Tour money list.
If you beaten all of the odds to get to the final stage, your competition includes current tour players, possibly former Major winners. Talk about starting at the bottom again. Of the 450 guys who started at the pre-qualifying stage, 10 made it to the Final Stage...or about 2% of that field. The pre-qualifier that is getting some buzz right now is Brett Waldman...Waldman is the current caddy for Camilo Villegas who has decided to follow his dream of being a Tour player. He continued to caddy for Villegas throughout the fall and had to make time to practice before each of his events.
Some wonder why a guy would consider giving up a job caddying for a player making over $3 million a year to battle against the best players in the world for a paycheck...but if you have a passion for golf, you know why.
Minnesotan Clayton Rask is in Orlando right now getting ready for the final stage. Rask is a former University of Minnesota golfer who is currently on the Canadian Tour trying his luck again at Q-school. Rask made it to Stage 2 last year, but was not able to make it to the finals. In looking at his stats this year in Canada, he made 5 of 8 cuts and was 2nd at the Canadian Tour Championship...which made him a whopping $18,200 (for 2nd place!!), about enough to cover all of his Q-school expenses! Can you imagine the earning potential if he could make it on Tour?! I'm rooting for him!!!
And of course there's Erik Compton - I've been a fan for a few years now, and I've just got this feeling that this may just be his year! It's been a battle to get this far, but he now embarks on a 6-day challenge that will test all of his physical and mental abilities...and for all that he's been through in his life, I think he's ready. Go Erik!!
For some this is chance to finally realize a dream...for others though, this is about holding onto what they've had. For the guys who could not make it into the Top 125 on the money list, they are getting the chance to prove that they are where they belong.
Here are just a few names playing on Wednesday that you might recognize...Briny Baird (127), Johnson Wagner (126), Billy Mayfair, Scott McCarron, Carlos Franco, Will MacKenzie, and former Major winner Lee Janzen.
No matter what path has led them to this spot, each player needs to muster up the patience, courage, and determination to get past the double bogeys and three-putts and know that the next hole is an opportunity to do something great.
Be sure to follow all the action on http://www.pgatour.com/ and of course HERE at Tees2Greens in the forums. The Golf Channel will have 3 days of coverage, too, starting on December 4.
Enjoy Q-school and Good Luck Clayton Rask and Erik Compton!
Filed under: Erik Compton, dream, PGA Tour., Q-school, Clayton Rask