Sean Dale wasn’t even sure if he would be able to compete in the pre-qualifying stage of PGA Tour Q-School.
Four days before he was scheduled to leave for Cypresswood Golf Club in Spring, Texas, Dale fractured his left ring finger in two places while at the gym. He was doing his last set of box jumps when his foot slipped, causing him to try to catch his fall.
“I thought at first that I just jammed it,” Dale said. “It got pretty swollen and turned purple, so I went to a clinic and got an X-ray, and it showed I fractured it in two different spots.”
Dale tried to grip a club the morning before he left for Texas, but could barely hold a grip. His dad recommended he stay home, but Dale, who decided to skip the fall semester of his senior year at North Florida, wasn’t about to let one finger stop him from taking the first step toward earning a PGA Tour card.
“I put a lot on the line for this, not playing college golf this semester,” Dale said. “I just felt like this has been a dream of mine for a while, so I should give it a try. I just taped it up and went out there.”
Dale’s decision paid off. He shot 70-71-70 to finish T-11 and advance to the first stage, to be played next month.
“I’m happy with the way I played,” said Dale, who finished at 5 under, 15 shots behind winner Jason Millard of Murfreesboro, Tenn. “Late in the rounds, with all the beating on my hand, the finger would get more swollen. But I knew I had to keep playing, played smart and it worked out.”
Dale said his doctor told him that his finger should heal in about three weeks, meaning he’ll have some time to rest it before the first stage of Q-School in October. He will find out Tuesday where he will play.
Dale plans to return to North Florida in the spring should he fail to earn a card. He has about five classes left before he can graduate, and he still has his eligibility on the golf course.
“If it works out, then great,” Dale said. “But if not, I’ll go back to school and join the team in the spring.”
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How other collegians did in Q-School pre-qualifying
• Jace Long, Missouri: Long won the pre-qualifier at ArborLinks in Nebraska City, Neb., shooting 70-67-74 for a one-shot victory.
• Andrew Yun, Stanford: Yun placed second at PGA West in La Quinta, Calif., after rounds of 67-72-66.
• Mario Clemens, SMU: Clemens was the only one of the four collegians competing in pre-qualifying not to advance. He finished T-52 after shooting 73-75-76 at PGA West.