5 Things: Military stint aided Lee's golf game
Sunday, December 2, 2012
Photos: Snapshots from PGA Tour Q-School
Our Sean Martin is making his way around PGA West's Stadium Course. Here are some of his best smartphone pictures.
LA QUINTA, Calif. – The fourth round of PGA Tour Q-School is in the books. The fortunate souls are just 36 holes from their PGA Tour cards. Here are 5 Things you need to know from Saturday at PGA Tour Q-School as we moved past the halfway point:
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1. TAKE ME TO YOUR LEE-DER: Dong-Hwan Lee says the approximately two years he spent in the South Korean military was good for his golf career. Sure, he could only practice when on leave – four days every two months – and it took him six months to recover his game. But being away from his profession for so long made him regain his love for it.
“It definitely helped me because I like golf so much. I took for granted how precious it was,” Lee said through a translator after his Saturday 64 at Q-School. “To be forced to miss something you love, I had the strong urge to come back and play.”
Lee is on the verge of earning the right to ply his trade on the world’s biggest stage. At 19-under 269, he has a two-shot lead with two rounds remaining at PGA Tour Q-School. He’s continuing an impressive recent run for his countrymen at Q-School.
Meen-Whee Kim fired a course-record-tying 63 two days earlier at PGA West’s Stadium Course. Kim, Edward Loar, Vaughn Taylor and Richard H. Lee are tied for second place, two shots back. Kim was tied for the lead until a double bogey at his final hole.
South Korea is the only country, other than the United States, to have multiple players earn PGA Tour cards at each of the past two Q-Schools. That trend looks likely to continue.
Dong-Hwan Lee served in the South Korean military from December 2008 until January 2011. He wasn’t in the line of fire, though. He worked in a base recreation area. His duties included mopping floors and giving golf lessons at the indoor driving range that stretched some 5 feet. Lee didn’t have time to work on his own game while on duty, but said giving lessons helped him learn more about the golf swing.
He’s a short hitter who’s known for a stellar short game. K.J. Choi said that Lee “hits the ball like a girl” and will have to pick up distance for the PGA Tour. Lee is a two-time Japan Tour winner, and No. 220 in the Official World Golf Ranking. His first Japan Tour title came when he was 19 years old, before he entered the military. The tour extended his exemption so that he could return after his tour of duty. He won again in 2011, his first year after his service.
This isn’t Lee’s first Q-School attempt. He also played in 2007 but missed his Tour card by two strokes. He played four Web.com Tour events before deciding to return home. This time he looks like he’s here to stay, for at least a year.
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2. CHANGE OF SCENERY: Chez Reavie played in the 2011 Tour Championship after his playoff loss to Webb Simpson at the second FedEx Cup playoff event, the Deutsche Bank Championship. Qualifying for East Lake allowed Reavie to play in all four majors and the World Golf Championship at Doral. He couldn’t make the most of those starts, though, missing the cut in four majors and finishing 135th on the PGA Tour money list.
Reavie’s Q-School got off to a mediocre start – he was T-111 after shooting even-par 72 in the first round – but now he’s in good shape for a PGA Tour card. Reavie has played the past three rounds in 15-under 201, including a 67 Saturday, and is now T-10.
"I'm going to do the same thing, take a nap, maybe watch a movie and grab some dinner, and do it all over again tomorrow," Reavie said.
Reavie is just the second player to play the Q-School finals the year after advancing to the Tour Championship.
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3. FAN FAVORITE: There were about two dozen gallery members following Donald Constable’s group during the past two rounds of Q-School. He was playing with two of the best-known players in the field, Erik Compton and Camilo Villegas. Constable, who turned pro just a few months ago, hung his own with those two PGA Tour players. He shot 67-71, tying Villegas and beating Compton by one shot. Constable and Villegas are both T-20 at 13-under 275, while Compton is T-24, one shot back.
Constable is one of 12 players who advanced through three stages of Q-School to reach the final stage of Q-School. He finished his collegiate career at Minnesota in 2011, but stayed in school another year to finish his degree. "It was nice to see I could play with those guys," Constable said.
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4. EASY STREET: Bryden Macpherson said he’s enjoying his first Q-School experience. Could that change? He’ll have to wait and see. Macpherson, the 2011 British Amateur champ, said he consulted former Georgia teammate Harris English for Q-School advice.
“(Harris) said he just treated (Q-School) like a regular event,” said Macpherson, who turned pro after this year’s Masters, where he shot 77-76. “He said he was feeling (nervous) the last couple days, and we have the last couple days coming up now, so it will be interesting to see how I react, but I feel confident about how I'm able to handle the situation.”
Macpherson is T-33, one shot outside the cut line, after shooting four sub-par rounds. He’s 11-under 277 (68-69-69-71). “I love it, the opportunity," Macpherson said of Q-School. "People say this is the worst week in golf, but I like playing golf. The weather is pure, the course is pure. The only way it can be stressful is if you put it on yourself. I've done a really good job of enjoying it."
He missed the cut in his four PGA Tour starts this year, shooting a combined 21 over in those eight rounds.
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5. SHORT SHOTS: The current cut line for a PGA Tour card is 12 under. Thirty-two players are at 12 under or better. Eighty-five players are at 7 under or better. ... Tom Pernice Jr., 53, shot 64 to move from T-84 to T-24 and onto the cut line for a PGA Tour card. ... Kevin Kisner was T-142 in the 172-player field after shooting 71-75 in the first two. He's now T-33, one shot outside the cut line, after shooting 66-65 in the past two rounds. ... Richard H. Lee's 74 Friday dropped him from third to 31st. Lee was 10 shots better Saturday, shooting 64, to move back into second place. ... Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano's Q-School quest is over. The Spaniard, No. 33 in the Official World Golf Ranking, withdrew after shooting 81 Saturday. He was T-165 out of the 169 players remaining.