Shane Bertsch wins by one over Thongchai Jaidee at PGA TOUR Champions Q-School
Karlsson, Byrd, Leaney also become fully exempt for 2020 season
SCOTTSDALE, Arizona – Shane Bertsch (Denver, Colorado) made a six-foot par putt on the 18th hole to complete a final-round 65 and win by one with a 17-under total at the PGA TOUR Champions Qualifying Tournament Final Stage. Bertsch earned fully exempt status for the 2020 season, along with the next four players on the leaderboard: Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee, Sweden’s Robert Karlsson, Robin Byrd (Satellite Beach, Florida) and Australia’s Stephen Leaney.
In 2018, Bertsch made the cut in just two of 13 starts in PGA TOUR-sanctioned tournaments. He said 2019 was the first season since 1995 he did not play on the Korn Ferry Tour or PGA TOUR, and that Friday was just his 12th competitive round of the year.
“I can’t wait. It feels so good to be out here with guys that I’ve seen forever,” said Bertsch, who will turn 50 on March 30, 2020. “I feel like I kind of belong again.”
All eight of his scores in Q-School were under par, as he finished third at 8-under at the First Stage in California, and he closed with rounds of 65-65 to win at 17-under this week at TPC Scottsdale. Since his first start in 1992, Bertsch posted five top-10s in 194 starts on the PGA TOUR and three wins in 325 starts on the Korn Ferry Tour.
“I told everyone that there’s a guy like me that makes it, a guy that’s had a long journeyman-type career and gets a shot at the Champions Tour,” Bertsch said. “I’m just glad I get a shot this next year.”
Jaidee made the biggest final-round jump among the five qualifiers, as he closed with a 9-under 62 and improved from T11 to second with a 16-under total. It was his second-best score in Q-School, as he opened with a 10-under 61 en route to medalist honors at the First Stage in California. An eight-time winner on the European Tour, Jaidee was the first Thai player to qualify for the Presidents Cup in 2015.
Karlsson was the 54-hole leader and earned one of the five cards after a final-round 69 gave him a third-place finish at 14-under. An 11-time winner on the European Tour, Karlsson was selected by Padraig Harrington to be a vice captain at the 2020 Ryder Cup.
Like Jaidee, Byrd started the final round outside the top five. Birdies on Nos. 13 and 14 helped him shoot 68 and secure one of the last two cards with a T4 finish at 12-under. This year was Byrd’s ninth appearance in PGA TOUR Champions Q-School, and his lone start on the PGA TOUR was in 1985.
Of the five qualifiers, Leaney was the only player that was exempt into the Final Stage. The 50-year-old finished T4 after rounds of 65-66-71-70 and earned his card through Q-School for the second year in a row. This year on PGA TOUR Champions, Leaney recorded three top-10s and finished 56th in the Charles Schwab Cup.
In addition to the top-five earning fully exempt status, players that finished sixth through 30th this week are exempt from pre-qualifying for Open Qualifiers in 2020.
Three Canadians were playing in the finals and none were able to secure any status for 2020.
The top Canadian was David Morland IV in a share of 45th. Kevin Baker ended up tied for 47th, while Jim Rutledge earned a share of 52nd place.