Q-School Tracker: LeBrun (64) takes early lead

Steve LeBrun

Steve LeBrun

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LA QUINTA, Calif. -- It's that time of year again, time for 172 players to compete for the last 25 PGA Tour cards.

Many consider this to be the toughest test in golf, as it spans 108 holes over six days on two courses at PGA West.

And after Wednesday's opening round, one man is out in front. Steve LeBrun shot 8-under 64 on the Stadium Course to take a one-shot lead over Ed Loar, Alexandre Rocha, Jin Park and Kris Blanks, who all carded 65s on the Stadium Course.

Others like Patrick Cantlay (1-over 73) and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano (1-under 71) have a little more work to do over these next five days.

Our Sean Martin (follow on Twitter here) was on the ground in La Quinta providing you with the latest insight. See how it all unfolded with our Q-School Tracker:

• • •

Update #38: 6:38 p.m. EST

Alexandre Rocha opened with 65 at the Stadium Course. It's a good start as he seeks a rare hat trick: the Brazilian is trying to earn a PGA Tour card at Q-School for the third consecutive year. He finished 131st on this year's PGA Tour money list, ensuring conditional status on Tour next year. He was runner-up at the Reno-Tahoe Open and fourth at the Frys.com Open. Rocha had to rally late this season after completing four rounds in a tournament just once before July.

– Sean Martin

• • •

Update #37: 6:21 p.m. EST

Steve LeBrun is now your solo leader. LeBrun birdied No. 18 on the Stadium Course to wrap up an 8-under 64. LeBrun had eight birdies on his round, including four in his last five holes. He made 14 of 21 cuts on the Web.com Tour this year, notching six top 25s and four top 10s.

• • •

Update #36: 6:08 p.m. EST

The first round of Q-School is almost in the books and currently five players sit atop the leaderboard. Of those five, four are finished with their rounds (Kris Blanks, Jim Park, Edward Loar and Alexandre Rocha). Steve LeBrun, who is also at 7 under, has one hole remaining.

• • •

Update #35: 5:46 p.m. EST

Australia's Marcus Fraser made quite the commute to get to Q-School, leaving Dubai on Monday and taking a 16-hour flight to Los Angeles. He got to La Quinta on Monday afternoon, and only played nine holes of practice Tuesday (the Stadium's front nine). His lack of practice hasn't hurt, as he opened with a 69 at the Stadium.

He's not done traversing the globe, either. He's headed directly from Q-School to the Australia Open, where's he's scheduled to arrive the afternoon before the first round. "I'm a glutton for punishment," the Aussie said.

– Sean Martin

• • •

Update #34: 5:35 p.m. EST

What's Patrick Cantlay doing? Not much. He's even through 15 holes on the Stadium Course. He was 2 over after five holes thanks to bogeys on Nos. 2 and 5. But birdies at Nos. 8 and 11 have gotten him back to even. He's currently T-112 along with some other notables: 2012 first-team All-American Stephan Jaeger, Danny Lee (three top 25s on Tour in 2012), Alex Cejka (267 PGA Tour starts), former PGA Tour winner Chez Reavie and four-time PGA Tour winner Steve Flesch.

• • •

Update #33: 5:28 p.m. EST

There are quite a few notables who probably wish they could start their opening round over. That includes Arjun Atwal, who is in with a 2-over 74, nine shots back of the lead. The 39-year-old Atwal made just one top 10 and missed 15 of 27 cuts on the PGA Tour this year.

Also, D.J. Trahan, who notched two top 10s and made just 11 of 27 cuts on Tour in 2012, is currently at 3 over with one hole left on the Stadium Course. He has four bogeys and a double so far today. Former South Carolina player Mark Anderson is also at 3 over along with Kevin Tway.

And there's two-time Web.com Tour winner Paul Claxton, who shot 6-over 78. He's T-169 along with Scott Brown. John Hurley (79) and Brett Bergeron (81) round out the bottom of the leaderboard.

• • •

Update #32: 5:18 p.m. EST

Edward Loar is no longer your only leader. That's because Kris Blanks has just joined Loar, the clubhouse leader, at 7 under. Blanks has seven birdies so far today, including six in his last eight holes. He's only got Nos. 8 and 9 left on the Stadium Course.

• • •

Update #31: 5:08 p.m. EST

Remember the six players who advanced to Q-School's second stage after Blayne Barber disqualified himself from the first stage? Well, Chesson Hadley was the only one of those half-dozen who advanced to final stage. He's off to a good start here, shooting 4-under 68 on the Nicklaus Tournament course.

– Sean Martin

• • •

Update #30: 5:06 p.m. EST

One of the keys to playing well at Q-School – or anywhere for that matter – is avoiding mistakes. Adam Crawford and Robert Karlsson, who are each finished with 6-under 66s and sit in a tie for second, did that today. Both made six birdies to zero bogeys and find themselves just a shot back of leader Edward Loar.

• • •

Update #29: 4:53 p.m. EST

Monday qualifying master Patrick Reed came in with 70 on the easier Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed was 3 under after four holes, but bogeyed his next two. He hit his tee shot out of bounds on the par-4 sixth hole, his 15th, to fall to 1 over par but birdied the last three holes to salvage a sub-par score. "If you have an off day and shoot 2 under par, you're sitting pretty good," Reed said.

His final birdie came on a tap-in after he knocked a pitching wedge stiff. Reed earned more than $300,000 on Tour this year, a sum that guarantees him Web.com Tour status for next year.

– Sean Martin

• • •

Update #28: 4:46 p.m. EST

Henrik Norlander, who spent time on the European Challenge and eGol Pro tours this year, is in the clubhouse with a 5-under 67. Norlander won the Olde Sycamore Open on the eGolf Pro Tour and made three cuts on the Euro Challenge Tour. He also made one start on the European Tour, missing the cut at the Nordea Masters.

Also finished with 67s are UCLA product Erik Flores, Si Woo Kim and two-time heart transplant recipient Erik Compton.

• • •

Update #27: 4:35 p.m. EST

We've already told you that Camilo Villegas is in with a 70 and Edward Loar is finished with a 65 at the Stadium Course. Here's some more insight on their rounds.

Villegas made two birdies and 16 pars, a surprisingly clean card on the harder of the two courses. This is Villegas' first time at final stage. "It was kind of simple. Nothing special," Villegas said of his round.

Villegas is five shots behind the leader, Loar. Loar earned his first PGA Tour here last year. Loar already has Web.com status locked up for next year after winning on that tour earlier this year. "Nate in the back of my mind that gives me a little more peace," he said. "I got to start at finals this year, which is the first time I got to do that, so this is my first Q-School round instead of my ninth. That helps me be a bit fresher."

– Sean Martin

• • •

Update #26: 4:25 p.m. EST

Leader Edward Loar bogeyed the par-4 ninth on the Stadium Course to finish with a 7-under 65. Loar, a former standout at Oklahoma State, made nine birdies in his opening round and currently holds a one-shot lead over Adam Crawford, who is finished with a 66, and Robert Karlsson, who has one hole left.

• • •

Update #25: 4:16 p.m. EST

A solid group of players are in the clubhouse with 2-under 70s. That group includes three-time PGA Tour winner Camilo Villegas, Gary Christian, Georgia products Hudson Swafford and Brendon Todd, Billy Horschel and former PGA Tour winner Bill Lunde. Of those previously mentioned, only Lunde (UNLV) is not from a Southeastern Conference school.

• • •

Update #24: 4:12 p.m. EST

Alexandre Rocha is playing well again, but he seems to have the hang of this Q-School thing. He earned his PGA Tour card at the 2010 and 2011 Q-Schools, and is off to a good start in his quest for a hat trick. He's 5 under through 13 and T-4.

• • •

Update #23: 4:06 p.m. EST

While Edward Loar continues to lead (8 under thru 17), players have just started finishing their rounds. Among those in the clubhouse are Bobby Gates (2-under 70, Nicklaus) and Scott Brown (6-over 78, Nicklaus).

• • •

Update #22: 3:53 p.m. EST

For all you Kris Blanks fans out there, the Huntingdon College product who tuned pro in 1995 has three straight birdies to move to 4 under. He's through 11 holes on the Stadium Course after starting his day on No. 10. Blanks has made 102 starts on the PGA Tour and has racked up 15 top 25s, seven top 10s and a pair of runner-up finishes.

• • •

Update #21: 3:46 p.m. EST

Patrick Cantlay hasn't gotten things going yet. He's 1 over through nine holes on the Stadium Course. That's good for T-131 at the moment. Cantlay made 10 starts on the PGA Tour after turning pro earlier this year and produced zero top 25s.

By the way, the live leaderboard seems to be back up. Check it out here.

• • •

Update #20: 3:35 p.m. EST

For those of you following the live leaderboard, you may have noticed it is not updating. So, here's an updated look at the leaderboard. Edward Loar is the leader at 7 under. He's through 15 on the Staidum Course. Adam Crawford, Vaughn Taylor, Robert Karlsson and Alexandre Rocha are all tied for second at 5 under.

• • •

Update #19: 3:01 p.m. EST

Walking toward the media center, I passed Rafael Cabrera-Bello and Russell Knox, who were wearing red and lily pants, respectively. Players don't quiet down the fashion statements at Q-School, even though there's no national telecast and they're at a rather humbling tournament.

Cabrera-Bello is one of the four top-60 players in the field. They're not having much success at PGA West. Here's how they stand:

• Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano (No. 33 in OWGR), 1 over thru 8, T-133

• Alex Noren (No. 51), Even thru 9, T-101

• Rafael Cabrera-Bello (No. 53), 1 under thru 9, T-61

• Marcus Fraser (No. 58), Even thru 9, T-101

– Sean Martin

• • •

Update #18: 2:52 p.m. EST

Paul Stankowski, who is currently at 1 over through five holes, will turn 43 on Sunday. What better way to celebrate a birthday than by making it out of Q-School for a fourth time? Stankowski, who last earned his Tour card through Q-School in 2006, made eight starts on the PGA Tour this year, making four cuts. He made 16 starts on the Web.com Tour and fared better with nine cuts made.

• • •

Update #17: 2:31 p.m. EST

Andrew Loupe outdrove his competitors by 50 yards on the par-5 eighth hole at the Stadium Course. He walked after his 3-wood second shot as soon as he hit it. His playing partners both had to lay up. Loupe's ball carried into a slope behind the green and plugged into the turf. He made par after failing to get his third on the green from a tough lie.

Loupe, an All-American at LSU, was an all-state basketball player in high school. His athleticism and length have observers speaking highly of his potential. He shot 64 in the final round of second stage, including a back-nine 30, to advance on the number. He's even through eight holes today.

– Sean Martin

• • •

Update #16: 2:13 p.m. EST

Georgia's football team will play Alabama in the SEC Championship this Saturday with the winner expected to earn a spot in the national title game. But Bulldogs fans have another reason to cheer this week – at least so far – as several former Georgia golfers are playing well early in La Quinta.

Bryden Macpherson (T-1), Hudson Swafford (T-6), Kevin Kisner (T-6), Brendon Todd (T-18) and Erik Compton (T-18) – all Bulldogs – are off to good starts.

• • •

Update #15: 2:02 p.m. EST

Robert Karlsson, who has made 103 career PGA Tour starts, has joined the leaders at 4 under. And speaking of leaders, Lee Williams, who is 4 under after five holes, is among those competing at PGA West who have already locked up PGA Tour cards for 2013.

The two-time USA Walker Cup team member already has his first PGA Tour card wrapped up after finishing in the top 25 on the Web.com Tour money list. There are seven players in the field who already earned PGA Tour cards for 2013 via the Web.com Tour. They're here to try to improve their status for 2013. They don't count toward the top 25 at week's end who'll earn PGA Tour cards.

That's why John Huh, Colt Knost and Nathan Green earned PGA Tour cards at last year's Q-School in spite of finishing T-27. There were two Web.com graduates ahead of them. Huh parlayed that PGA Tour card into a Tour Championship appearance.

– Sean Martin

• • •

Update #14: 1:51 p.m. EST

All 172 players are now out on the two courses and four of those players find themselves in a shar eof the lead at 4 under. Adam Crawford and Lee Williams have recently joined Bryden Macpherson and Michael Putnam atop the leaderboard.

On the opposite end of the leaderboard, John Hurley has continued to slide back. He's in last place at 6 over. Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, the highest-ranked golfer in the field according to the Official World Golf Ranking (No. 33), is 3 over through five holes. Former UCLA standout Patrick Cantlay is also over par at 1 over, although he's only complete two holes so far today.

• • •

Update #13: 1:40 p.m. EST

Last year's Q-School medalist at PGA West, Brendon Todd, is off to a good start. He's 2 under through nine holes on the Stadium Course, playing in the day's first group alongside Camilo Villegas, who made the turn in 1 under, and Rod Pampling.

– Sean Martin

• • •

Update #12: 1:33 p.m. EST

Just as we were updating you on the leader, 2011 British Amateur champion Bryden Macpherson has joined Michael Putnam at 4 under. Macpherson, a former player at Georgia who missed the cut in the 2011 Open Championship and 2012 Masters, has four birdies in his first six holes on the Nicklaus Tournament Course, including three in a row (Nos. 13-15).

• • •

Update #11: 1:29 p.m. EST

Michael Putnam continues to lead at 4 under. The Pepperdine product, who has just one top-10 finish in 61 starts on the PGA Tour in his career, is through nine holes on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. He had four birdies and no bogeys on his front nine.

• • •

Update #10: 1:09 p.m. EST

John Hurley may be the longest player in the field, but he just put two balls in the water at the par-5 fifth hole (Stadium Course) and finished with an 8 on the hole to fall back to 3 over. Only 103 holes remaining.

Also, longtime Tour player Tom Pernice Jr., who may hit it 70 yards shorter than Hurley, laid up at No. 5 and then stuck a wedge to 2 feet to set up a birdie. Pernice is back at even.

– Sean Martin

• • •

Update #9: 12:56 p.m. EST

A lot of eyes will be on three-time PGA Tour winner Camilo Villegas this week. Villegas, who finished 144th on the PGA Tour money list this season, is competing in Q-School for the first time. The former Florida standout is currently at even par thanks to seven pars in seven holes on the Stadium Course.

• • •

Update #8: 12:47 p.m. EST

Heath Slocum just hit it to 2 feet on No. 2 and then made his birdie to go to 1 under. Hard to believe he's back at Q-School already after winning the 2009 Barclays and 2010 McGladrey, but alas he is. He's playing alongside Alex Cejka, who's trying to add his name to the short list of players to graduate Q-School with a ponytail, and Billy Mayfair.

– Sean Martin

• • •

Update #7: 12:41 p.m. EST

We're keeping a watch at the bottom of the leaderboard as well and some more notables are over par at the moment. Among those are Rafael Cabrera-Bello, ranked No. 53 in the Official World Golf Ranking, D.J. Trahan, who made 11 of 27 cuts and notched a pair of top 10s on the PGA Tour this season, and Billy Hurley III, who made just eight of 27 cuts on the PGA Tour this year but did generate two top 10s.

• • •

Update #6: 12:28 p.m. EST

Patrick Reed Monday-qualified for six PGA Tour events this year and missed just five cuts in 12 starts. The Augusta State product notched four top-25 finishes. And he's carried that success over to the final stage of Q-School.

Through four holes, Reed is 3 under and holds the outright lead. He has birdies on Nos. 10, 11 and 13 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course and leads nine players tied for second at 2 under.

• • •

Update #5: 12:23 p.m. EST

Sure, there's only 104 holes left, but it's good to see Hudson Swafford off to a good start (2 under through four holes). Swafford, who turned pro after the 2011 NCAA Championship, has had two near misses in his quest for a PGA Tour card. A final-round 73 here last year dropped him out of the top 25 and left him two shots short of a Tour card. He came to the Web.Com Tour Championship inside the top 25 on the money list but was one of three players to fall outside the top 25 in the season's final week.

Swafford, who won this year's Stadion Classic, was college teammates with Harris English and Russell Henley, both of whom will be on the PGA Tour in 2013. That trio led Georgia to a second-place finish at the 2011 NCAA Championship.

– Sean Martin

• • •

Update #4: 12:07 p.m. EST

It's starting to get crowded atop the leaderboard as five guys now find themselves at 2 under. Among those players are Vaughn Taylor, Billy Horschel, former Georgia standout Hudson Swafford, Pepperdine product Michael Putnam and 36-year-old Scott Gutschewski. All of those players with the exception of Taylor are playing their opening round on the Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course.

Now while the leaders sit at 2 under, there are a few notables who have gotten off to not-so-ideal starts. That includes Chez Reavie and Tom Pernice Jr., who have combined for three PGA Tour wins and sit at 1 over early in their opening rounds.

• • •

Update #3: 12:02 p.m. EST

American players think they have it tough when it comes to media demands? I just saw an Asian player giving a pre-round interview here at PGA West. I can't see American media doing that. In other news, there's as many Canadian media outlets (two) as there are American ones. But hey, there's no hockey, Canadians love their golf and it's an excuse to get out of the snow.

– Sean Martin

• • •

Update #2: 11:48 a.m. EST

Vaughn Taylor, playing on the Stadium Course, has joined Horschel at 2 under. The Augusta State product has birdies on Nos. 11 and 12. The 36-year-old tied for fifth last year at Q-School.

• • •

Update #1: 11:33 a.m. EST

It's early in La Quinta but Billy Horschel has already taken sole possession of the lead. He's started his opening round on the Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course with two birdies on Nos. 10 and 11. The former University of Florida player then made par at the par-3 12th and currently leads a group of 15 players in a tie for second.

• • •

Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2012

5 THINGS PREVIEW: The 2012 field at Q-School is one of the strongest fields in the event's history, featuring four players inside the top 60 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Story.

• • •

Monday, Nov. 26, 2012

TEE TIMES & PAIRINGS: Check out the tee times and pairings for the final stage of PGA Tour Qualifying School at PGA West in La Quinta, Calif. Tee times.

• • •

Q-School: Second stage

FINAL RESULTS: Robert Karlsson, Matt Fast and Si Kim took medalist honors at their respective sites on Saturday, and Daniel Chopra shot 6 under to advance in Brooksville during the final day of PGA Tour Q-School's second stage. Notes & scores.

SPIETH COMES UP SHORT: Jordan Spieth’s first Q-School attempt came to an end Friday, ensuring that he won’t earn a PGA Tour card this year. The biggest question surrounding the Texas sophomore is when he’ll start pursuing his PGA Tour card in 2013. Story.

• • •

Q-School: First stage

BARBER IS OUT: Blayne Barber had easily advanced out of the first stage of the PGA Tour’s Q-School, but something was weighing on him. It was an incident that had occurred in the tournament’s second round, one of those moments when this game’s rules so harshly penalize the slightest misstep. Story.

FINAL RESULTS: Find out who advanced and who missed out. Notes & results.

• • •

Q-School: Pre-qualifying

FINAL RESULTS: Find out who advanced and who was left out. Notes & results.

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