Armour, 52, to give Q-School another shot

Tommy Armour III during the 2011 U.S. Senior Open.

Tommy Armour III during the 2011 U.S. Senior Open.

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Even as young stars at all corners of the globe have emerged on the pro golf landscape this year, it’s not easy for the veterans simply to walk away without answering the challenge.

Thus, 52-year-old Tommy Armour III will join hundreds of others at second stage when the annual PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament resumes at six sites beginning Nov. 15. Certainly it will feel like old times for Armour; he’s made it through Q-School four times in his lengthy PGA Tour career.

Only this time, he’ll try to succeed as a card-carrying member of the Champions Tour, and that catches your eye. Yes, he drew some degree of inspiration when Tom Pernice Jr. – who is one month older than Armour – tied for third at the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic and in just a dozen tournaments regained his PGA Tour card. But Armour said: “I’m proud of Tom for what he did this year, but he didn’t influence my decision. I had already entered the qualifying process before he secured his card.”

Twenty-three years removed from his rookie year on the PGA Tour, Armour is serious enough to make it back that he is bypassing the annual Callaway Pebble Beach Invitational. Armour has won that tournament twice, and there’s plenty to like about it – low stress, good field, great courses – yet he’ll choose instead to be in Panama City, Fla., playing at Hombre Golf Club.

“It’s challenging, more than anything,” said Armour, who is in San Francisco playing in his 24th Champions Tour event of the season, the year-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship.

“I still want to have some options on where to play next year, so that’s why I’m doing it. I’m fairly healthy, and I still think I can compete on the PGA Tour. We’ll see what happens.”

Armour, thanks to finishing 62nd on the money list in 2008, had full status in 2009, but finished 143rd. He played in only five PGA Tour tournaments in 2010, when he transitioned over to finish 13th on the Champions Tour money list. He fell off this season, to 27th.

Still, Armour is like so many of his colleagues. He’s a golfer, and if it requires Q-School, so be it. Consider that there are five former major champions teeing it up at second stage: David Duval, 10 years removed from his Open Championship triumph, is entered into the tournament at Murrieta, Calif.; Rich Beem (2002 PGA) and Shaun Micheel (2003 PGA) are on the entry list for Humble, Texas; Lee Janzen (1993 and 1998 U.S. Opens) is signed on for Brooksville, Fla.; and Todd Hamilton (2004 Open Championship) will play in McKinney, Texas.

What’s more, there is a sprinkle of veteran players who, like Armour, are fighting to regain status or simply provide playing options. The entry list at Panama City also includes Blaine McCallister, 53, and Len Mattiace, 44, while out in Murrieta, 60-year-old Mac O’Grady is signed up.

Boo Weekley headlines the list of veterans who are forced back to second stage and the landscape will feel familiar, because the feel-good story of the 2008 Ryder Cup will tee it up in his home area, up in the Florida Panhandle at the Hombre.

Woody Austin, Ted Purdy, Brett Quigley, Charles Warren, Joe Durant, Frank Lickliter, Notah Begay, Alex Cejka, Glen Day and Jason Gore are just a few of the other veterans who are back at second stage.

Not that the older guys have cornered the spotlight, mind you, because as always, Q-School is providing the chance to be a steppingstone for the young. A trio of recent Walker Cuppers – Harris English, Russell Henley and Peter Uihlein – are signed on for second stage, though in the case of Uihlein, it’s a feeling-out process. The rules allow for him to remain an amateur and finish out his senior year at Oklahoma State, while also testing his game at Q-School.

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