Superlatives for 2010 Q-School rookie class
WINTER GARDEN, Fla. – As if a PGA Tour card wasn’t reward enough, I want to offer some awards to this year’s Q-School rookie class:
• MOST LIKELY TO SUCCEED: Kyle Stanley. The 2009 Ben Hogan Award winner as the best player in college and amateur golf, Stanley is considered to be the most talented among this year’s class. He almost earned his Tour card via this year’s Nationwide Tour, finishing 35th on the money list. He’s also made the cut in five of eight PGA Tour starts as a professional. He finished 19th at the ’09 Travelers Championship and made the cut at the ’09 U.S. Open as an amateur.
• MOST POPULAR: Will Strickler. Never want to see a player bogey his final hole at Q-School, but a bogey-5 on the final hole allowed Scott Gordon and former Florida teammate Billy Horschel to earn PGA Tour cards.
• BEST ALL-AROUND: Ben Martin. He was the No. 2 student in his graduating class at Greenwood (S.C.) High School. He earned a degree from Clemson in financial management.
• BEST HAIR: Andres Gonzales. He was compared throughout Q-School to former Major League baseball closer Rod Beck because of his shoulder-length locks and fu-manchu facial hair.
• BEST HAIR (honorable mention): Nate Smith. From the left-leaning surfer town of Santa Cruz, on California’s Central Coast. Smith’s shaggy hair and facial stubble stay true to his hometown’s ethos.
• BEST SCHOOL SPIRIT: Gonzales. He picks up this award for using his Ping Hoofer from Capital High School in Olympia, Wash., at Q-School.
• MOST IMPROVED: Martin. He was the No. 2 player on his high school team, and the fifth-best player in his five-man recruiting class at Clemson. He was an All-American, but played in Stanley’s shadow in college. Ever since being runner-up in the ’09 U.S. Amateur, he’s reached a new level. Martin won his first college title that following college season and tied for ninth at the NCAA Championship. He won in just his second start as a pro, on the eGolf Professional Tour, then made it through three stages of Q-School. Though he didn’t win Q-School, he put together arguably the most impressive performance last week. He was tied for second after the first and second rounds, was the outright leader after the third and fourth rounds, and shared the fifth-round lead with Billy Mayfair. He finished one shot back of Mayfair.