It was an interesting Q-School in 2001, the last time the event visited Bear Lakes Country Club in West Palm Beach, Fla. Names like Boo Weekley and Ty Tryon took center stage.
This year’s event, which will also be held at Bear Lakes, should be another good one.
• Former World No. 1 David Duval has decided to play in the 108-hole event, which starts Wednesday.
Duval said he was leaning towards skipping Q-School after he missed the cut at the PGA Tour’s season finale, the Children’s Miracle Network Classic, to fall out of the top 125 on the money list.
• Rickie Fowler, 20, also will be a focal point this week. Fowler made $571,090 in three PGA Tour starts as a pro, enough to place him in the top 150 on the ’09 money list.
By finishing in the top 150, he can accept unlimited sponsor exemptions on next year’s PGA Tour. But because he was not a Tour member in ’09, he doesn’t have the conditional Tour status granted to players who finish Nos. 126-150 on the money list.
He won’t have any trouble procuring sponsor exemptions in ’10, but his playing status on either the PGA Tour or Nationwide Tour will be determined this week.
• In 2001, Tryon, Weekley, Gary Nicklaus and Luke Donald earned their first PGA Tour cards at Bear Lakes.
Gary Nicklaus, Jack’s son, earned his only PGA Tour card on courses designed by his father. He gave Q-School another shot this year, but failed to make the finals.
Tryon entered Q-School as golf’s next big thing after making the cut in two PGA Tour events as a teenaged amateur. He cemented his status as a promising player by firing a final-round 66 to earn a Tour card with a shot to spare.
He hasn’t regained PGA Tour playing privileges since.
While Tryon has struggled since his success at Bear Lakes, Weekley has become one of the PGA Tour’s most popular players. He may have been even more eccentric back in ’01, wearing rain pants and tennis shoes as he earned his first Tour card.
Former PGA champ Shaun Micheel and Phil Tataurangi won on Tour after earning their cards at Bear Lakes, but find themselves back there this week.
• Other notables in this year’s field include Jason Gore, Todd Hamilton, Tim Herron, Jeff Maggert, Joe Ogilvie, Jesper Parnevik and Paul Stankowski.
• I’m not sure that you want to be jet-lagged for an attempt at Q-School, especially when you enter the week with no status on either the PGA or Nationwide tours. But two players at Bear Lakes – Graham DeLaet (Canada) and Hugo Leon (Chile) – represented their countries in China at the World Cup, which wrapped up Sunday.
Chile tied for 12th in the 28-team field, while Canada finished 25th.
It’s about 15 hours of flying from China to Florida. The pair would’ve been hard-pressed to arrive at Bear Lakes until Monday afternoon. While the jet lag won’t help their game, the guaranteed paycheck at the World Cup is a big help to any aspiring pro.
• Two members of the 2009 U.S. Walker Cup team are in the finals – Fowler and former Georgia Tech player Cameron Tringale. Four members of the 2007 team are also there – Fowler, Billy Horschel, Colt Knost and Chris Kirk.
• Unknown player to watch: Ted Potter, Jr. Unless you’re a hardcore follower of the Hooters Tour, you probably don’t know Potter’s name, but he’s a two-time player of the year on that circuit (2006, ’09). He was 35 under par in his first- and second-stage qualifiers this year, the lowest score in relation to par among all players to participate in first and second stage.
Despite his minor-league success, Potter has struggled mightily on the Nationwide Tour, making just three cuts in 44 starts in two full seasons. By making the Q-School finals, he’s guaranteed a chance to redeem himself next year.
• Alan Morin is a local club pro who’s trying to make it to the big leagues this week. Morin is an assistant pro at The Falls Country Club in Lake Worth, about 15 minutes from Bear Lakes. Morin has played eight events on the PGA and Nationwide tours over the past three years. He’s made four cuts.