Q-School Tracker: Kim retains slim lead

Meen-Whee Kim

Meen-Whee Kim

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LA QUINTA, Calif. -- Meen-Whee Kim, 20, maintained his lead at PGA Tour Q-School on Friday, firing a 5-under 67 to hold a one-shot lead over veteran Robert Karlsson after 54 holes.

PGA Tour standout Camilo Villegas is6 under on his round to move to T-9. The top 25 at the end of 108 holes earn their cards.

Our Sean Martin (follow him on Twitter here) kept updated all day long as players tried to make a move to get inside the top 25 to secure a 2013 PGA Tour card.

Here's how it happened:

• • •

Update #26: 6:49 p.m. EST

Joseph Bramlett is one of three players who dropped out of the top 25 on the Web.com Tour money list in the 2012 season’s final week. That cost him a PGA Tour card, but he’s making the most of his second chance. Bramlett has opened with three consecutive 68s and is 12 under par. He earned a PGA Tour card in his first Q-School try in 2010, but finished 196th on the 2011 money list. He was 28th on this year’s Web.com Tour money list, missing his Tour card by approximately $4,000.

• • •

Update #25: 6:43 p.m. EST

Ross Fisher, a member of Europe's victorious 2010 Ryder Cup team, fired 65 Friday at PGA West's Nicklaus Tournament course to move safely inside the top 25. Fisher is at 13-under 203, moving from T-31 today to T-9. He is one of several big-name European Tour players in the field, but unlike many of his peers, skipped last week's European Tour finale in Dubai in order to stay fresh for Q-School finals. The move seems to have paid off. Fisher is fresh, while the rest are struggling.

Fisher had to start his Q-School quest at second stage, which was the week before the Dubai event. Romain Wattel and Alex Noren also played second stage, then played the following week in Dubai and came back to California for Q-School. Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, Marcus Fraser and Rafael Cabrera-Bello – all of whom were exempt to Q-School's final stage – also flew from Dubai on Monday to California for Q-School

Fraser is T-44. None of the other four who participated in Dubai are in the top 100 at Q-School.

"I figured if I got through second stage, I wanted to give it my all," said Fisher, No. 99 in the Official World Golf Ranking. "I just felt like this is the right thing to do."

• • •

Update #24: 6:08 p.m. EST

Ross Fisher, part of the winning European Ryder Cup team in 2010, has made his way into the top 25. Fisher shot a bogey-free 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. At the start of the day, he was T-31, and now he is T-9, at 13-under-par.

• • •

Update #23: 5:58 p.m. EST

Derek Ernst is one of 12 players who are in the Q-School finals field after starting their Q-School journey at the pre-qualifying stage. He’s already played 11 rounds of Q-School and is faring well in the three rounds he’s played this week. Ernst is 10 under par through three rounds at PGA West, shooting 68-68-70. He was 4 under through six holes today after a chip-in at the par-5 15th, but ended up just 2 under today. Still, it’s a good start for a player who turned pro after this year’s U.S. Amateur.

“It’s better than I expected. It’s a lot more fun,” Ernst said of Q-School. “It’s challenging for sure, but the pressure you put on yourself is the only pressure that’s there. Playing the (Frys.com Open), that took off the edge and made this feel like my second PGA Tour event. That helped a lot.”

Joseph Bramlett is one of three players who dropped out of the top 25 on the Web.com Tour money list in the 2012 season’s final week. That cost him a PGA Tour card, but he’s making the most of his second chance. Bramlett has opened with three consecutive 68s and is 12 under par. He earned a PGA Tour card in his first Q-School try in 2010, but finished 196th on the 2011 money list. He was 28th on this year’s Web.com Tour money list, missing his Tour card by approximately $4,000.

– Sean Martin

• • •

Update #22: 5:28 p.m. EST

Looks like Meen-Whee Kim will remain the over-night leader at PGA Tour Q-School with only a few players left on the course. Kim shot a 5-under 67, and is at 18-under overall. Sitting in second, one-shot behind Kim, is Robert Karlsson. In solo third is Edward Loar, who shot 6-under 66, and is one back of Karlsson. Three players, Billy Horschel, Steve LeBrun and Vaughn Taylor are tied for fourth at 15-under. The closest players left on the course sit at 11-under.

• • •

Update #21: 5:24 p.m. EST

Tim Kunick is just the type of player the PGA Tour is trying to keep out with its Q-School changes. Kunick, who's won "six of seven" times on the Dakota Tour and wan an assistant pro at nearby Plantation Golf Club, is 12-under-par. This is his first time at Q-School finals. He advanced to finals by the slimmest of margins, making it out of first and second stages with a shot to spare.

"I feel really comfortable out here, having spent the past few winters out here," he said. "I just wanted to get full status on a tour this year."

– Sean Martin

• • •

Update #20: 4:52 p.m. EST

Billy Horschel is in great shape after today's 66 that put him at 15-under-par. He was asked by the Golf Channel if he would appear on camera. He agreed, but with two stipulations.

"I don't want to know where the leader is and I don't want to know where I stand," said Horschel.

Ignorance can be bliss at Q-School.

– Sean Martin

• • •

Update #19: 4:47 p.m. EST

Scary moment at Q-School. When the day's first groups got to No. 9 tee, they had to wait for an ambulance to cross the fairway. A spectator was on the ground left of the second fairway and was being attended to by emergency workers.

– Sean Martin

• • •

Update #18: 4:28 p.m. EST

Meen-Whee Kim has regained the lead by two-shots over Robert Karlsson. Karlsson made bogey at the par-4 5th, to drop back to 6-under on the day, 16-under for the tournament. Billy Horschel has jumped up into solo third. He is bogey-free 6-under through 17 holes. He is at 15-under.

• • •

Update #17: 4:06 p.m. EST

Clean card for Kyle Reifers today. He finished with a bogey-free, 7-under 65. Right now, Reifers is in a tie for fourth, three strokes behind leaders, Robert Karlsson and Meen-Whee Kim.

• • •

Update #16: 3:42 p.m. EST

Nice start today for Camilo Villegas and Erik Compton, two of the better-known players in the field. They're playing together in what could pass for today's featured pairing alongside unknown Donald Constable. Compton and Villegas are both 3-under through seven holes and have moved from T-15 to T-23.

And sometimes you have to pay for your temper tantrums. The right side of Si Woo Kim's white hat is covered in a green grass stain.

– Sean Martin

• • •

Update #15: 3:06 p.m. EST

Just watched Morgan Hoffman make a 30-footer for birdie on No. 1 at the Nicklaus Tournament Course. That should help him right the ship a bit. Hoffmann made the turn in 2-over 38 on a low-scoring day at PGA West. It's a bit overcast, but its cool and windless.

Hoffman had dropped from 5th to 20th after nine holes. He already has a PGA Tour card from the Web.com Tour, but can improve his status by finishing 18th or better. He's here also to stay fresh before the Sony Open in January and because he would've had to come to LaQuinta anyways for PGA Tour rookie orientation. May as well play some golf on a trip to the Palm Spring area.

– Sean Martin

• • •

Update #14: 2:58 p.m. EST

Robert Karlsson has taken a two-shot lead during this third-round of Q-School to get to 17-under. He 6-under through 11 holes. The Sweden native has six birdies on the day and no blemishes so far.

Our Jim Achenbach caught up with Karlsson earlier this week. Read here: Karlsson begins comeback at Q-School

• • •

Update #13: 2:51 p.m. EST

Billy Horschel is making a move today. Horschel earned his PGA Tour card via Q-School in 2009 and 2010, though both of those were in Florida. He's trying for he coastal double now. Horschel is trying to raise is batting average to .750 at Q-School.

– Sean Martin

• • •

Update #12: 2:43 p.m. EST

Interesting group of players who are T-22. Among them are Si Woo Kim, Alexander Rocha, Chez Reavie, Bryden Macpherson, Camilo Villegas and Erik Compton.

Kim is the 17-year-old who may have accidentally checked the ‘pro’ box while filling out his Q-School application.

Rocha was the runner-up at this year’s Reno-Tahoe Open.

Reavie, who earned enough money in his last medical exemption start to gain conditional status for the rest of the 2011 PGA Tour season, made the most of it in the FedEx Cup Playoffs. This year his best finish was at the Travelers Championship (T-11).

Villegas may be the most well-known player in the field this week.

Macpherson, the 2011 British Amateur champion, left the University of Georgia early to pursue his pro career.

Compton is a two-time heart transplant recipient.

• • •

Update #11: 2:24 p.m. EST

Things are getting interesting surrounding 17-year-old Si Woo Kim. First of all, he couldn't use any PGA Tour status earned here until his 18th birthday on June 28. Also, Kim may have accidentally turned pro. He was amateur before Q-School, but checked the 'pro' box on that application. That may not have been intentional, though.

– Sean Martin

• • •

Update #10: 1:58 p.m. EST

Stanford product Joseph Bramlett is 5-under on the day. Bramlett is in with a 31 on the Nicklaus Tournaments’ back-nine. He made the jump from T-14 to T-4, two strokes behind leader Steve LeBrun. He was a PGA Tour rookie in 2011, and played on the Web.com Tour in 2012. His best finish this year came at the Chile Classic Presented by Pacific Rubiales where he was the runner-up.

• • •

Update #9: 1:47 p.m. EST

Derek Ernst continues to impress at Q-School. I found a story I wrote on him in 2007 when he made the Round of 16 at the U.S. Amateur before starting his senior year at Clovis East High School in Clovis, Calif. Here's some background from that story:

He is nearly blind in his right eye because of an accident in the second grade while making a Valentine's Day present for his mother. A piece of PVC pipe broke off and cut his right eye, necessitating 10 stitches. Even with contacts, Ernst can only see about 10 feet out of his right eye. He said it doesn't effect his golf, though.

He enjoys sketching golf courses, and says Pasatiempo Golf Club, an Alister Mackenzie design in Santa Cruz, Calif., is one of his favorite courses.

Ernst represented the United States at this year's Palmer Cup and has made the semifinals at the 2011 and 2012 U.S. Amateur Public Links, losing in the final in 2011. Ernst's father, Mark, played tennis at Biola University.

– Sean Martin

• • •

Update #8: 1:38 p.m. EST

Brad Fritsch of Canada has the round of the day so far. He is 5-under through four holes. Fritsch went birdie-eagle-birdie-birdie, and has jumped into a tie for 14th. He is looking to gain status for the first time on the PGA Tour.

Kris Blanks is in a tie for second, after making birdies on Nos. 13-16 to get to 13-under, one stroke behind Steve LeBrun.

• • •

Update #7: 1:14 p.m. EST

It’s getting crowded at the top of the leader board. Edward Loar, Steve LeBrun, Meen-Whee Kim and Vaughn Taylor are in a four-way tie for the lead at 13-under. Loar is 3-under through five holes. The lefty won this year’s Panama Claro Championship on the Web.com Tour in March. As an amateur, he made an appearance on the 1999 Walker Cup team.

And chalk up another one for Derek Ernst, who just made an uphill 8-footer on the par-3 17th. He's one off the lead now.

– Sean Martin

• • •

Update #6: 1:07 p.m. EST

Aaron Watkins is having a good Q-School. He's currently T-11. He has something to play for. His wife is pregnant with their second child. A Tour player's salary will help pay for diapers. Watkins was 39th on the Web.com Tour money list and as 15th at the U.S. Open.

– Sean Martin

• • •

Update #5: 12:57 p.m. EST

It's not often that players miss the green on a short par-5, but Derek Ernst atoned for a poor third shot at the par-5 15th by chipping in, giving him three birdies in the first six holes. The first-year pro is now 3-under through six, 11-under overall and two off the lead. Ernst turned pro after this year's U.S. Amateur and quickly Monday qualified for the Frys.com Open, where he made the cut.

– Sean Martin

• • •

Update #4: 12:53 p.m. EST

Mark Anderson is making an early morning move. He is 3-under on the day through seven holes. He started the day T-59 and has now moved to T-23. Anderson, a 2012 PGA Tour rookie, finished No. 155 on the money list after earning his way on to the PGA Tour by finishing 22nd on the 2011 Nationwide Tour money list.

First-round leader Steve LeBrun has moved into a tie for the lead with Meen-Whee Kim. He has two birdies on two of his first three holes.

• • •

Update #3: 12:42 p.m. EST

The 15th hole at PGA West's Nicklaus Tournament Course is an island-green par-5. It's a three-shot hole with the tees up, but reachable from today's tee. As if Q-School isn't hard enough, now players are left with a difficult decision. Two players - Alex Aragon and 17-year-old Si Woo Kim - went for the green and both hit in the water. Kyle Reifers laid up and made an easy par.

– Sean Martin

• • •

Update #2: 12:18 p.m. EST

The early move of the day is being made by Derek Ernst, a first-year pro out of UNLV. He birdied his first two holes and moved to T-5 at 10-under. Ernst is one of five 2012 All-Americans in the field, and the only one in the top 25. Stephan Jaeger is currently T-158, James White is T-151, Patrick Cantlay is T-94 and Joakim Mikkelsen is T-94.

Kyle Reifers, who's bounced between the Web.com and PGA Tours in his pro career, also is T-5 after going 3-under through four holes this morning. Reifers was a member of the United States' 2005 Walker Cup Team. He turned pro in 2006 and earned a PGA Tour card at that year's Q-School at PGA West, site of this year's tournament

– Sean Martin

• • •

Update #1: 11:56 a.m. EST

Welcome to Day 3 at PGA Tour Q-School. The weather is perfect once again, so look for more low scores. The leaders are on PGA West's Nicklaus Tournament Course today, the easier of the two layouts in use. Here's five stories we'll be looking at today as we near the midpoint of this 108-hole marathon:

• Meen-Whee Kim, a 20-year-old from South Korea, is your leader after a course-record 63 Thursday on the Stadium Course. PGA West has been kind to his countrymen. Y.E. Yang graduated the 2008 Q-School here (earning his PGA Tour card without a shot to spare), then went on to win the next year's PGA Championship. Seung-Yul Noh and Sang-Moon Bae graduated from here last year, and had successful rookie seasons in 2012. Kim is at 13 under par, one shot ahead of former Ryder Cup player Vaughn Taylor.

Kim earned his first professional victroy before coming to Q-School, beating PGA Tour players Kevin Na, Paul Casey, Seung-Yul Noh and Charlie Wi in a tournament in Korea.

• Meen-Whee Kim is good and young, but he's far from the youngest player in the field. Si Woo Kim, 17, starts today in a tie for 14th at 8 under par. Kim's age could cause some issues if he earns a PGA Tour card. He wouldn't be able to make a start as a PGA Tour member until his 18th birthday, which is June 28. That means he could make Tour starts by virtue of Monday qualifiers and sponsor exemptions, but not his Q-School status. Kim will be 17 years, 5 months and 6 days on Monday. Ty Tryon was 17 years, 6 months, 1 day when he earned a PGA Tour card in 2001.

• Derek Ernst has been pro just a few months, but he's in good shape to earn a PGA Tour card after two rounds. Ernst, a UNLV product, also is 8 under par. Ernst was a semifinalist at both the 2011 and 2012 U.S. Amateur Public Links. He's the low scorer among the five 2012 All-Americans in the field. Patrick Cantlay, on the other hand, is T-94. Cantlay already has Web.com Tour status locked up for 2013.

• Tim Kunick is the kind of player who will be hurt most by the Q-School changes. Kunick spent this year on the mini-tours but is seeking a direct promotion to the PGA Tour. Kunick arrived at Q-School finals by the slimmest of margins. He advanced out of first and second stage without a shot to spare.

• Three-time PGA Tour winner Camilo Villegas is 7 under par after two rounds and in a tie for 23rd. Villegas may be the highest-profile player in the field, and is in good shape through two rounds.

• • •

Thursday, Nov. 28, 2012

DAY 2 TRACKER: Meen-Whee Kim fired a 9-under 63 to take a one-shot lead over Vaughn Taylor, who shot 64, after 36 holes of PGA Tour Q-School at PGA West in La Quinta, Calif. Story.

HOLDING HIS OWN: Tom Pernice Jr., 53, and Si Woo Kim, 17, are competing for spots on the 2013 PGA Tour. Kim would set a record for youngest player in the history of the Tour. Pernice, meanwhile, is trying to stay on golf's biggest stage. Story.

IN DRIVER'S SEAT: We’re one-third of the way through PGA Tour Q-School, but while Meen-Whee Kim leads at 13 under, there’s still 72 holes left. Here's 5 Things to take away from Thursday's second round at PGA West. Story.

• • •

Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012

DAY 1 TRACKER: The final stage of PGA Tour Q-School got underway on Wednesday at PGA West. And it was Steve LeBrun who finds himself out in front early. See how it happened.

COMEBACK TRAIL: Sergio Garcia, Kevin Na, Robert Karlsson. Three different personalities, three different golf swings, one common malady. All three suffered from the full-swing yips. They reached a point in their professional careers where they couldn’t start the swing. Karlsson is back at it this week at Q-School. Story.

EUROPEANS START HOT: 5 Things from Day 1 of the final PGA Q-School in La Quinta, Calif., on the PGA West's Nicklaus Tournament Course and Stadium Course. Story.

• • •

Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2012

5 THINGS PREVIEW: The 2012 field at Q-School is one of the strongest fields in the event's history, featuring four players inside the top 60 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Story.

• • •

Monday, Nov. 26, 2012

TEE TIMES & PAIRINGS: Check out the tee times and pairings for the final stage of PGA Tour Qualifying School at PGA West in La Quinta, Calif. Tee times.

• • •

Q-School: Second stage

FINAL RESULTS: Robert Karlsson, Matt Fast and Si Kim took medalist honors at their respective sites on Saturday, and Daniel Chopra shot 6 under to advance in Brooksville during the final day of PGA Tour Q-School's second stage. Notes & scores.

SPIETH COMES UP SHORT: Jordan Spieth’s first Q-School attempt came to an end Friday, ensuring that he won’t earn a PGA Tour card this year. The biggest question surrounding the Texas sophomore is when he’ll start pursuing his PGA Tour card in 2013. Story.

• • •

Q-School: First stage

BARBER IS OUT: Blayne Barber had easily advanced out of the first stage of the PGA Tour’s Q-School, but something was weighing on him. It was an incident that had occurred in the tournament’s second round, one of those moments when this game’s rules so harshly penalize the slightest misstep. Story.

FINAL RESULTS: Find out who advanced and who missed out. Notes & results.

• • •

Q-School: Pre-qualifying

FINAL RESULTS: Find out who advanced and who was left out. Notes & results.

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