LA QUINTA, Calif. – Bobby Gates called it one of the most miserable experiences of his life. Not the three-putt from 40 feet that cost him his PGA Tour card, but the overseas trip that gave him salmonella poisoning.
Gates is at Q-School finals after finishing No. 126 on the PGA Tour money list, one spot from keeping his card. He still got to play in a World Golf Championship a couple weeks later, thanks to good play on the PGA Tour of Australasia in 2010. He traveled to China for the WGC-HSBC Champions, but had to withdraw after three rounds after eating a bad Caesar salad. The unofficial last-place money covered his expenses for the trip, but the bug cost him between five and seven pounds.
“I felt like I’d had Lap-Band surgery,” Gates said. He said he’s still “semi-recovering” but is now able to eat regularly. He’s 7 under through Q-School’s first two rounds after shooting 70 in Friday’s 25-35 mph winds. He’s three shots back of Will Claxton (64-70). Matt Jones (67-68) and Harris English (68-67) are another shot back, followed by Billy Hurley (65-71).
As for the three-putt that cost Gates his card – he finished $1,431 behind No. 125 D.J. Trahan – Gates said: “I told people I was fine after three days, but it was more like a week. Everyone wants to keep apologizing, saying they’re sorry it happened, but I’ve moved on.”
No matter what happens this week, Gates is expected to receive between 15 and 20 PGA Tour starts in 2012 because of his status on the money list.
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Q-School often gets players shaking. Adam Hadwin started doing so before he even arrived in La Quinta. He was practicing in Phoenix when his agent informed him that he was in the Q-School finals. It took a slight rules change by the PGA Tour for Hadwin to earn his way to the finals, where he’s guaranteed his first PGA Tour or Nationwide Tour card.
Hadwin is T-15 through two rounds after shooting 71-69. He birdied four of his final five holes Friday.
You may remember Hadwin as the Canadian who finished fourth at the Canadian Open and seventh at the Frys.Com Open. His earnings were good enough to get him in the top 150 on the PGA Tour money list, but he needed a slight rules tweak to get his spot in the Q-School finals. Without the rules change, he was headed for second stage. He said he was shaking when he received the phone call from his agent informing him that he was in the Q-School finals.
“Skipping second stage is huge,” Hadwin said. “I thought he was joking at first.”
He was followed by about 30 people on Thursday, a mob by this tournament’s standards. Many were residents of his hometown, Abbotsford, B.C., who winter in the Palm Springs area. Hadwin, ranked 238th in the Official World Golf Ranking, is the highest-ranked Canadian in the world.
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Daniel Summerhays just needed to have some fun and see the ball go in the hole. Summerhays, who works on his swing with former PGA Tour winner Grant Waite, felt like he was playing better than his scores indicated. He finished 171st on the PGA Tour money list in 2011. He spent three weeks this offseason playing with his dad, Lynn, at their home course, Oakridge Country Club in Farmington, Utah, sometimes playing 36 holes per day.
“I just needed to shoot some good scores,” Summerhays said. “I had a (25-foot) putt for 59 once, shot 29 a couple times. Any time you can make some birdies it’s good for your confidence.”
Summerhays played the second stage of Q-School at Bear Creek Golf Club in Murrieta, Calif. He had a five-shot lead through 36 holes after rounds 65-66 and won by three shots despite a final-round 76. Summerhays was tied for the 18-hole lead this week after shooting 64, then followed with 73 Friday. He is tied for fifth with four rounds remaining.
“It’s just a day of survival,” Summerhays said about Thursday’s cold, windy conditions. “It would’ve been easy to get frustrated, but I just hung in there.”
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Mark Anderson’s Q-School preparation was just a bit atypical. There was some paddleboarding, fishing and bike riding. He ran a 5K race. Anderson already has his PGA Tour card after finishing No. 22 on the Nationwide Tour money list. This is his first tournament since the Nationwide Tour Championship, which ended Oct. 30.
Anderson skipped Q-School in 2010, knowing he needed another year on the Nationwide Tour before playing to the PGA Tour. He was a rookie pro in 2009 when he earned a Nationwide Tour card at Q-School.
“There were some sleepless nights the first time,” Anderson said. “It’s completely different this time. I’m just treating it like any other tournament. I’m trying to win and earn some money, and it’s good to hit shots under the gun.”
Anderson shot 66-72 in Q-School’s first two rounds this year and is currently T-9.
The top 25 and ties at week’s end earn PGA Tour cards. Players who’ve already earned a card via the Nationwide Tour don’t count toward that total, though. For example, if two Nationwide Tour grads finish in the top 25, then the top 27 and ties earn PGA Tour cards. Billy Hurley, another Nationwide Tour grad, is currently in fourth place.