5 Things: Closer look at Web.com Tour Q-School

Justin Thomas was among those who advanced to the final stage of Web.com Tour Q-School.

Justin Thomas was among those who advanced to the final stage of Web.com Tour Q-School.

Six rounds. 152 players. One goal.

The final stage of Web.com Tour Q-School begins Thursday at PGA West in La Quinta, Calif. And while the new qualifying system no longer awards PGA Tour cards, players are still competing for priority rank on the Web.com Tour, which now offers the only route to the PGA Tour.

Every player that qualified for final stage earns at least some conditional status for 2014, but the better one finishes this week in California, the better rank one receives.

• Click here for a complete recap from all six second-stage sites.

Here are 5 Things you need to know before things get underway:

• • •

1. WALKING TALL: Former Cal teammates Michael Kim and Max Homa, along with former Alabama standout Justin Thomas, helped the United States capture the Walker Cup earlier this year.

After the victory, Homa and Thomas turned pro while Kim returned for his junior season with the Bears.

Now, all three find themselves competing in the final stage of Q-School.

Homa missed the cut at the U.S. Open and the Web.com Tour's Mylan Classic last season, but has fared much better recently. He earned sponsor exemptions for the PGA Tour's Frys.com Open and Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, both part of the Tour's new wraparound 2013-14 season. He tied for ninth at the Frys before a T-30 finish in Las Vegas.

Thomas, who also helped the Crimson Tide win the 2013 NCAA Championship, tied for 72nd at the Frys before missing the cut at the McGladrey. He's never finished better than T-30 in six PGA Tour starts, in which he's made four cuts. He missed the cut in his only Web.com Tour start back in 2012 as an amateur.

Unlike Homa and Thomas, Kim will compete as an amateur. The 2013 Jack Nicklaus Award winner tied for 17th at the 2013 U.S. Open and also notched a T-38 finish at the Greenbrier last season.

Kim told Golfweek after second stage that he'd make a decision on whether to turn pro based on how high he finished at final stage (click here to read more). The top 45 and ties earn full status until at least the second periodic re-order of the season, while the top 10 and ties are exempt through the third re-order.

• • •

2. OTHER FIRST-TIMERS: Kim, Homa and Thomas won't be the only players experiencing final stage for the first time this week.

Former U.S. Amateur champion Steven Fox, former Florida State standout Daniel Berger and current USC golfer Anthony Paolucci also will make their maiden appearances at final stage.

Fox struggled mightily last season on the PGA Tour as he took advantage of his U.S. Amateur privileges and other sponsor exemptions. He missed the cut in all nine starts, including three times in majors. The bright spot: Fox was 11th in his pro debut at the PGA Tour Latinoamerica's Puerto Rico Classic.

Berger turned pro after earning first-team All-American honors last season at Florida State. He was runner-up at the NCAA Championship last spring, too. He made four Web.com Tour starts this year after turning pro, missing the cut in his first three before a T-47 showing at the Price Cutter Charity Championship.

Paolucci, like Kim, will have a tough decision should he fare well this week. The Trojans junior was medalist at second stage.

• • •

3. GOOD KARMA: Blayne Barber disqualified himself at the first stage of Q-School a year ago after admitting he signed the wrong scorecard.

The former Auburn player had advanced easily to second stage, but found out after finishing that he had assessed the wrong number of penalty strokes to his score for moving a leaf in a bunker.

A year later, Barber returned to Q-School, and now has secured at least conditional status on the Web.com Tour.

• • •

4. ALREADY CHAMPIONS: Several former USGA champions, NCAA champions and even a former major winner will compete this week.

Colt Knost, who won both the U.S. Amateur and U.S. Amateur Public Links in 2007, will be joined by 2012 Public Links champ T.J. Vogel, who turned pro this year after helping Florida to an NCAA Championship berth last spring.

Bronson Burgoon was the hero for Texas A&M after earning the clinching match-play point to give the Aggies the 2009 NCAA Championship.

Oh, and then there's 2004 British Open winner Todd Hamilton, who is now 48 years old and looking to resurrect his career.

• • •

5. SHORT SHOTS: Should things not go his way this week, Connor Arendell already has playing opportunities lined up for him overseas. Arendell earned his 2014 Euro Tour card with an eighth-place finish at Euro Tour Q-School. . . . Tyler McCumber, a former standout at Florida and son of 1988 Players Championship winner Mark McCumber, is in the field. . . . Another player competing this week is Johnny Del Prete, who also is known for being the boyfriend for LPGA player Jessica Korda. . . . Camilo Villegas has already had success on the PGA Tour. Now, his brother, Manuel, hopes to finish strong at PGA West and continue his path toward the PGA Tour.

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