Walker medalist at Web.com Tour Q-School, Xiong among notables to earn status

Stan Badz/PGA Tour

Walker medalist at Web.com Tour Q-School, Xiong among notables to earn status

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Walker medalist at Web.com Tour Q-School, Xiong among notables to earn status

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Danny Walker’s lowest round of the week got him to finish on top.

The 23-year-old fired a 9-under 63 in Sunday’s final round at the Web.com Tour Qualifying Tournament to finish the week at 27 under. That total earned him medalist honors by a single shot at Whirlwind Golf Club in Chandler, Ariz.

(Side note: The tournament was played at Whirlwind’s Devil’s Claw and The Cattail layouts. Players alternated between the courses, meaning everyone played two rounds at each. Walker played his final round at The Cattail.)

And that medalist showing means a lot for Walker, who played his college golf at Virginia and earned a win in one of his 12 starts on the Mackenzie Tour this year.

The Web.com Tour Qualifying Tournament (known also as the final stage of Web.com Tour Q-School) offered up opportunities for players to earn status on the circuit.

Every player who made it there automatically earned conditional status, but a high finish in the event would mean much more.

The tournament’s medalist earned fully exempt status on the 2019 Web.com Tour. Those finishing Nos. 2-10 (and ties) earned exempt status through the first 12 events of the season. Those in the Nos. 11-40 (and ties) range got exempt status through the first eight events.

That means Walker came out of the action fully exempt in 2019.

Other stars who finished or left college golf this season made a splash, too.

That was shown with the fact that Norman Xiong (second, 26 under), Doug Ghim (T-3, 25 under) and Andy Zhang (T-8, 24 under) were among the notables to get the guaranteed 12 starts status. Brad Fritsch, 41, also joined that group as a final-round 62 saw him jump 29 spots to a tie for eighth.

Xiong has drawn comparisons to Tiger Woods, Ghim was low amateur at this year’s Masters and Zhang has continued to shine after qualifying for the 2012 U.S. Open as a 14-year-old.

Cody Blick was the big story among the Nos. 11-40 qualifiers.

The 25-year-old former San Jose State golfer had his clubs stolen prior to the final round and began the day four shots short of the top 40 and ties cut. Remarkably, he then went out with a makeshift replacement set and fired a 9-under 63 at the Cattail to jump to a tie for 25th at 19 under and get himself the eight guaranteed starts status.

Tim Wilkinson fired a final-round 62 to rocket 50 spots to T-16 at 21 under.

Former U.S. Amateur Public Links winner Byron Meth (T-22, 20 under), ex-No. 1 junior Matthew NeSmith (T-22, 20 under) and 2007 British Amateur champion Drew Weaver (T-25, 19 under) were also in that eight starts status group.

So was 2015 U.S. Amateur medalist Brett Coletta thanks to his own Sunday 63 (at Devil’s Claw) jumping him to 19 under.

Jordan Niebrugge, the 2013 Western Amateur and U.S. Amateur Public Links winner, finished in a tie for 34th at 18 under to earn that eight starts status on the number. Carl Yuan, who turned pro this year and skipped his final season at Washington, also got through on the number. Former UNLV standout John Oda, who turned pro and skipped his senior season (2017-18), also just made it through on that 18-under number.

Lee McCoy, the former Georgia standout who was medalist at this tournament last year, finished 18 under as well. That was also the case for 2013 U.S. Junior Amateur winner Scottie Scheffler.

The notables who failed to finish in the top 40 and ties and thus will have to settle for conditional Web.com Tour status are: Dylan Meyer (T-50, 17 under), Zac Blair (T-50, 17 under), Luke Guthrie (T-64, 16 under), Blayne Barber (T-67, 15 under), Derek Bard (124th, 6 under) and Anthony Paolucci (T-131, 1 under).

Min Woo Lee, the 2016 U.S. Junior Amateur winner, competed as an amateur and placed T-67 at 15 under.

Ole Miss star senior Braden Thornberry also competed as an amateur and finished 14 under for T-74. Thornberry told Golfweek after passing through second stage of Q-School that he would leave school to turn pro ahead of the spring semester if he finished top 40 and ties this week.

Thornberry indicated at that time that a finish in the middle of the pack of the 135-man field at final stage would mean him having to ponder his options about turning pro or staying in school.

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