With 108 holes to play over six days to say the final stage of PGA Tour Q-School is a marathon rather than a sprint is more than cliche After-all it really is the culmination of a tournament that has already ran as many as eight rounds through the first and second stages for some players, more for those who had to play in the pre-qualifying.
You could argue then about the weight of the first round results; there is plenty of time for comebacks in a tournament where almost half the field will earn status on the PGA and Nationwide Tours for 2011. Of course, since these all all proven players, there is no way you can understate the psychological benefits of having a steady start this week. As two-time U.S. Open Champion posted to his Twitter page after his Q-School opening round of 74, “QSchool. Nothing fun about it!”
With the winds blowing steady over 30 km/h and nerve endings already on high alert it was little surprise to see some high scoring come out of Orlando, Florida on Wednesday and in that mix five Canadian did their best to work towards earning a spot on the 2011 PGA Tour.
Six Canucks were slated to started the Q-School finals but that number dropped by one before action began with the withdrawal of David Hearn. The Brantford, Ontario golfers reportedly tweaked his elbow and, already assured a spot the PGA Tour in 2011 dues to his 21st place finish on the 2010 Nationwide Tour, he decided to take a pass on the optional golf marathon.
The first Canadian to complete play on the day was Matt McQuillan of Kingston, Ontario. The 29-old played the Panther Lakes Course at Orange County National (he will play the Crooked Cat course on Thursday) and started on the back nine where a score of 38 pushed him well back in the 165 player field. That changed significantly on the front nine as the former Ontario Junior Champion tossed in three birdies, finishing with a score of 32, for an overall tally of 1 under par, 70.
Peterborough, Ontario’s Ted Brown, who attended Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond Virginia and played on a team that included Belleville’s Erik Knudsen and Jeff Crowe of Ottawa, also had a solid start to his Q-School finals. He also opened at one under par after a score of 71 on the Crooked Cat course.
Former Belleville and Deep River resident Jon Mills struggled to a 75 on the Panther Lakes Course that was vacant of birdies, unusual for him.
Chris Baryla of Vernon, British Columbia shot 72 on Wednesday, one over par on the Panther Lakes Course.
Richard T. Lee of Vancouver was also playing on the Panther Lakes course and turned in a score of 71. His roller coaster round included five birdies and five bogeys.
Position after Round 1 of 6 for Canadians at PGA Tour Q-School Finals
(Top 25 and ties earn a PGA Tour Card – next 50 players and ties receive a full Nationwide Tour Card)
Matt McQuillan (Kingston, Ontario) – 70 (t-25th)
Ted Brown (Peterborough, Ontario) – 71 (t-25th)
Richard T. Lee (Chandler, Arizona/ Vancouver, B.C.) – 71 (t-51st)
Chris Baryla (Vernon, B.C.) – 72 (t-65th)
Jon Mills (Indiana, Pennsylvania/ Belleville, Ontario) – 75 (t-135th)