Mayfair, Martin lead Q-School with 18 to play
WINTER GARDEN, Fla. – Some were decorated amateurs, like former U.S. Amateur runners-up Ben Martin and Michael Thompson. Others, like UC Davis product Scott Gordon, developed at mid-major programs before toiling on the mini-tours for several years.
Despite such different pasts, they find themselves in the same position entering Monday’s final round of Q-School: one good day away from their first PGA Tour card. Of the 32 players that find themselves T-27 or better, more than half have never had PGA Tour playing privileges.
“My goal is just to be mentally strong,” Thompson said. “If I can just stay strong, I’ll be right there. I just want to make sure I’m proud of my round and my effort tomorrow.”
Martin is tied with Billy Mayfair for Q-School’s 90-hole lead; at 16 under par, they’re eight shots inside the cut line for a PGA Tour card.
Thompson and Gordon won’t have such a luxury on Q-School’s final day. Thompson, whose 69 Sunday was his third consecutive sub-70 round, is one shot inside the cut line. Gordon will start Monday on golf’s most cruel line.
Thompson was this year’s Hooters Tour player of the year; he turned pro two years ago after being low amateur at the U.S. Open (T-29). Gordon, a 29-year-old former Nationwide Tour player, played just four Gateway Tour events this year while rehabbing an undiagnosed injury in his left wrist.
“I was lucky just to be able to play Q-School this year,” Gordon said.
Thompson has put on quite the rally; he was in 75th place through two rounds after shooting 73-72. He hit just six greens in each of those two rounds. He’s hit at least 14 greens in each of the past three rounds, after resuming hitting a fade, his natural shot. He was drawing the ball the first two days.
Will Strickler, runner-up in stroke play at the ’09 U.S. Amateur, is another player seeking his first PGA Tour card. He is tied for fourth through five rounds.
“I’m probably going to wake up and be a little nervous. I’m not going to lie,” Strickler, a University of Florida product, said of the final day. “It’s kind of been the same way each day. Pretty much after the first tee shot, I’m pretty settled down, but I’m definitely anxious to get to the golf course each day.”
Among the top six players on the leaderboard, only Mayfair has held a PGA Tour card.
Billy Horschel, who earned his first PGA Tour card at last year’s Q-School and is tied for ninth this week, said it’s inevitable that players will feel pressure.
“There’s guys that say that (they won’t be nervous),” Horschel said. “Do they believe that? I don’t know.
“I was real nervous (last year). It’s nerve-wracking, there’s no doubt about it.”
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ON THE CUT LINE
Note: Top 25 and ties earn PGA Tour cards. However, players who’ve already graduated from the Nationwide Tour do not count toward the top 25. Michael Putnam, Joe Affrunti and Justin Hicks, all of whom earned PGA Tour cards via the Nationwide Tour, are among the top 25.
T-27. Richard S. Johnson (68)
T-27. Carlos Franco (68)
T-27. Jim Renner (67)
T-27. Scott Gordon (71)
T-27. Luke Hickmott (71)
T-27. Richard Lee (72)
MOVED INSIDE THE PGA TOUR CUT LINE
T-9. Gary Woodland (67, up 18 spots)
T-9. Michael Putnam (67, up 18 spots
T-16. Camilo Benedetti (66, up 24 spots )
T-16. Matt McQuillan (66, up 24 spots)
T-22. Joe Affrunti (68, up 10 spots)
T-22. Kyle Stanley (69, up 5 spots)
T-22. Michael Thompson (69, up 5 spots)
T-22. Ryan Armour (66, up 25 spots)
T-27. Richard S. Johnson (68, up 13 spots)
T-27. Carlos Franco (68, up 13 spots)
T-27. Jim Renner, (67, up 20 spots)
MOVED OUTSIDE THE PGA TOUR CUT LINE
T-33. Josh Geary (72, down 12 spots)
T-33. Joseph Bramlett (72, down 12 spots)
T-36. J.J. Killeen (73, down 15 spots)
T-36. Chris Baryla (74, down 22 spots)
T-36. Charles Warren (74, down 22 spots)