U.S. players showing prowess in Euro Q-School
Chalk it up to a combination of reasons – the new landscape for PGA Tour Q-School or impressive success enjoyed by Peter Uihlein and Brooks Koepka – but leaderboards throughout Europe have a distinctive red, white and blue feel to them this fall.
There were 98 American players signed on to play at Stage 1 or exempted into Stage 2, and that’s twice as many as any other year.
And not only have they gone to play, but their success has been quite notable.
Three of the medalists at six first-stage sites were Americans – Daniel Berger, the former Florida State standout, won by four in Lisbon, Portugal; Philip Francis, the four-time winner of the Junior World Championship, won by two in Bogogno, Italy; and John Hahn, formerly of Kent State and a qualifier for this past summer’s U.S. Open, had the low score in Germany.
Furthermore, the numbers were impressive as you scanned the leaderboards at those Stage 1 competitions already held. (The final two Stage 1 sites began Oct. 1.) Though tournaments were spread out – England, Scotland, Italy, Portugal, Germany and Austria – Americans showed they can bring their games on the road as 26 of them made it through to Stage 2.
One of those who advanced was former Dartmouth College standout Peter Williamson. He was joint 16th at the Lisbon site, qualifying for the next round with six other Americans who were T-22 or better, and Williamson isn’t surprised so many of his countrymen made the overseas jaunt.
“I’ve been telling everyone exactly the same thing,” he said. “It has everything to do with how Q-School in the U.S. is now working.”
Now let the record show, Williamson isn’t against the new system, one that allows young players without status who get through Q-School to play on the Web.com Tour. To get onto the PGA Tour, you’d have to finish top 25 on the Web.com Tour money list or finish in the top 25 at the season-ending playoff series, “so you know it’s two-plus seasons before you can get on the PGA Tour, rather than a one-year pass (for previous Q-School gradutes)
“I’m biased, because I’m a player, but economically, I can see the value to the PGA Tour to do what it’s doing. I think it will make the Web.com stronger.”
But Williamson figures a lot of players would prefer the European Tour over the Web.com Tour, “better purses and potentially better world-ranking points.” In Europe, “they still offer the three-step process that that the U.S. used to, but doesn’t anymore.”
Another factor working in favor of sending Americans overseas is the coordination between the Tours. In the past, Q-Schools in Europe and the U.S. have overlapped, but no more. In fact, just back from Lisbon, Williamson is in Florida, prepping for first stage of the American PGA Tour (Oct. 8-11).
A possible second-stage date in the U.S. (Nov. 12-15) wouldn’t preclude him from meeting his second-stage date in Spain (Nov. 2-5).
“The tours have aligned themselves so they are avoiding conflicts,” Williamson said. “I think these feeder tours have realized there are so many good golfers and so few spots, they all want the best players.”