Tour players hope to find magic at Disney
Children's Miracle Network Classic
Courses: Walt Disney Resort, Magnolia Course (7,516 yards, par 72) and Palm Course (7,010 yards, par 72), Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
Purse: $4.7 million. Winner's share: $846,000.
Last year: Stephen Ames won the season-ending event for the second time in three years, closing with an 8-under 64 and beating Justin Leonard and George McNeill on the second hole of a playoff.
No doubt, the quest to squeeze into the top 125 on the PGA Tour money list, and thus be fully exempt for 2011, is a major storyline at this week’s season finale, the Children’s Miracle Network Classic at Disney World.
That’s why there’s no surprise that Nos. 120-125 – Joe Durant, Troy Merritt, Robert Garrigus, Woody Austin, Michael Allen and Troy Matteson – are there trying to protect their status. But their closest pursuers, those at 126-129 – Briny Baird, Aaron Price, Bob Estes and Michael Connell – are there, too, as are Nos. 131 and 132, Richard S. Johnson and Scott Piercy. (No. 130, Henrik Stenson, is not there, but he’s fully exempt through 2014 thanks to his 2009 Players Championship triumph.)
But as important as that stuff is, perhaps the more compelling subplot is further down the money list where some notable names need to really hustle if they want to avoid going to second stage of Q-School.
Johnson Wagner (153rd), James Driscoll (154th), Brett Quigley (155th), Mathew Goggin (156th), Charles Warren (157th), Brett Wetterich (159th), Chris DiMarco (165th), Daniel Chopra (173rd) and Ted Purdy (182nd) already are listed on the rosters of various second-stage sites. They’ll have to go through with that, too, should they remain outside the top 150 on the money list.
At the same time, those dangling toward the end of the 126-150 category – Jeff Quinney (145th), Will MacKenzie (148th), Nicholas Thompson (150th) – can use Disney to hang on and thus be exempt straight into the final stage of Q-School.
THREE TO WATCH
Rickie Fowler: A victory would cap off a remarkable rookie year. He may be tired after playing in Asia the last two weeks, but then again, the kid is only 21. Plus, he has 1 million reasons to play this week. He trails by one stroke in the Kodak Challenge (with a $1 million winner-takes-all prize), which consists of a player's best cumulative score on 18 of 30 select holes throughout the year. The Kodak hole at Disney’s Magnolia Course is the par-4 No. 17.
Jeff Overton: With three runner-ups and two third-place finishes, Overton has knocked on the door often this year. After proving his mettle at the Ryder Cup, Overton is ready to notch his maiden victory.
Brendon de Jonge: Sticking with the theme of breakout years on Tour that are only missing a victory, don't forget about de Jonge. The Zimbabwean has four top-5 finishes and, along with Fowler and Overton, is ripe for victory.