Canadians All Set For Q-School Finals

Jon Mills has the most PGa Tour experience among the 6 Canadians at Q-School Finals (Photo:  Scott MacLeod, flagstickgolfphotography.com)
Jon Mills has the most PGa Tour experience among the 6 Canadians at Q-School Finals (Photo: Scott MacLeod, flagstickgolfphotography.com)

A career defining tournament will be underway on Wednesday for six Canadian golf professionals.

The final stage of the PGA Tour Qualifying “School” will play out at the Orange County National Golf Center just west of Orlando, Florida, culminating next Monday evening when at least 25 players will receive a PGA Tour Card for 2011.  The next 50 or so players will get access to the Nationwide Tour for the season.  There are 166 players in the field who will tackles two courses at the complex, Panther Lake and Crooked Cat, for six grueling rounds.

The real Canadian rookies in the bunch are Matt McQuillan and Richard T. Lee who have little more than a handful Nationwide Tour appearances between them.  Contrast that with a number of PGA Tour winners in the field (like Carlos Franco, Guy Boros, Daniel Chopra, Paul Stankowski and 2-time U.S. Open Winner Lee Janzen) or players like Chris Tidland who has played in the Q-School finals stage 12 times in his career.

McQuillan, at 29, does have a win on the Canadian Tour, had a strong amateur career, and has been to both European and PGA Tour Q-School in the past so he has that experience to lean on.

McQuillan opens play at 8:20 a.m. Wednesday morning on the Panther Lake Course (10th tee) with David Lutterus, who finished tied for 8th at Q-School last year after a final round 64,  and 1999 MCI Classic winner Glen Day

Lee, who just turned 20, has already been a pro for three seasons and reaches the Q-School finals for the second time.  He will start his tournament at 9:30 a.m. on Panther Lake alongside 2-time Nationwide Tour winner Matthew Goggin and Martin Flores.

A two-time Nationwide Tour winner himself, 32 year-old Jon Mills is trying to get to the PGA Tour for his 3rd time.  He grew up in Belleville, Ontario and also spent some of his early years in the Upper Ottawa Valley in Deep River.  He played the tour in 2006 and 2008, losing his card each year.  In 2008 he finished the year at 142nd on the money list.

Mill’s tour quest will begin at 9:20 a.m. on the Crooked Cat course playing alongside Scott Piercy and Q-School vet Chris Tidland.

2010 PGA Tour member Chris Baryla is working his way back from a hip injury that derailed his season and put him on the sidelines.  He was impressive in his 2nd stage and looks to be back in the form that earned him 19th place on the Nationwide Tour money list in 2009.  The Vernon, British Columbia raised player will start his 2010 Q-School on Panther Lakes at 8:50 a.m. playing with David Lingnerth and Brian Bateman.

Ted Brown, largely unknown to most Canadians after choosing to stay in Virginia after his collegiate career at Virginia Commonwealth University and use Richmond as a base for his pro career, was a full-time Nationwide Tour member in 2010.  He made just 10 of 24 cuts over the season, forcing his return to Q-School where he is making his 2nd appearance in the finals.  The Peterborough, Ontario golfer has an affinity for going low, a great asset for a tournament that runs six rounds.  Brown starts his tournament at 9:10 A.M. on the Crooked Cat course in a twosome with Zachary Sucher.

David Hearn actually has a PGA Tour Card for 2011 after finishing 21st on the Nationwide Tour in 2010 but is looking to improve his status on tour so he can access more of the smaller field tournaments early in the year.  The Brantford native plays Panther Lake first, teeing off at 9:00 A.M. with Justin Hicks and Joe Affrunti.

The last time the PGA Tour held their Q-School finals at Orange County National (in 2007) it took -14 to earn a PGA Tour Card and -4 to get a full ride on the Nationwide Tour.

Those numbers, along with many other things, are sure to be on the mind of the golfers as they start their quest to make it to the biggest professional tour in the world.

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