Familiar faces hit European Tour Q-School

Can’t wait for next week’s PGA Tour Q-School, and all its inherent drama? Well, European Tour Q-School starts Saturday in Barcelona. You’re probably unfamiliar with most of the players in the field, but there are some you may recognize:

• Spain’s Santiago Luna has a victory over Tiger Woods to his credit, but finds himself at the finals. Luna beat Woods, 71-72, at the now-defunct Dunhill Cup, an international team competition where teams competed in medal match play. Woods missed a 4-foot putt on the final hole at St. Andrews’ Old Course as Spain beat the U.S. in the 1998 semifinals.

Rory Hie, a first-team All-American at USC in 2008, is making his second consecutive finals appearance. He finished 62nd in 2008, and played the Challenge and Asian Tours this year. Hie turned pro in 2008 after his sophomore year.

• Former Duke standout Ryan Blaum is also in the field. Blaum qualified for this year’s U.S. Open.

• Two players apiece from the past two GB&I Walker Cup teams will be in the field. Niall Kearney and Sam Hutsby represented GB&I at Merion, while Jamie Moul and Jonathan Caldwell played in 2007 at Royal County Down.

Oliver Fisher, the youngest player in Walker Cup history when he played in 2005, will also tee it up.

Andrew Coltart and Jarmo Sandelin, teammates on the 1999 Ryder Cup team that lost to the U.S. at Brookline, are both in the finals.

• Former NCAA champions Alejandro Canizares (2003, at ASU) and James McLean (1998, at Minnesota) are in the finals. Canizares won the European Tour’s Russian Open in 2006 and earned his PGA Tour card at the 2007 Q-School.

• Other players that starred at U.S. colleges and are playing in the finals are Oscar Floren (Texas Tech), Jamie Elson (Augusta State), Charlie Ford (Tennesee), Mark Haastrup (Georgia State), and Stephan Gross (ASU). Gross, the 2008 European Amateur champ, turned pro this summer instead of returning to Arizona State.

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