All dressed up but with nowhere to go
The 17-year-old kid with the polished swing who came a long way to get his PGA Tour card might be wasting his time.
Published on Wednesday, Dec. 05, 2012 10:31AM EST
The final Q-school that granted direct access to the PGA Tour could turn out to be a waste of a remarkable effort by Si Woo Kim.
The 17-year-old from South Korea made it through all four stages of qualifying — that includes a pre-qualifying stage in September — and was among 25 players who earned their cards Monday at PGA West. Trouble is, he can’t become a PGA Tour member until he turns 18 on June 28.
Kim might play as few as three tournaments and go right back to Q-school — only then, he would have to spend a year on the Web.com Tour.
The PGA Tour has no provision for Kim to appeal to be a member before he is 18, so his options are limited until his next birthday.
He can accept as many seven sponsor exemptions before June 28, but those exemptions might be hard to come by for a kid hardly anyone knows, especially with the likes of Camilo Villegas needing a spot next year. Kim also can try to qualify on Mondays in open tournaments. Whatever points he earns would not count in the regular FedEx Cup standings, though he could transfer those points when he becomes a member.
Kim turns 18 the week of the AT&T National, and will be the lowest-ranked member (zero points) among this Q-school class. He can only hope he gets in The Greenbrier Classic and John Deere Classic. There are two events he can count on (Mississippi opposite the British Open, Reno-Tahoe opposite the Bridgestone Invitational). He also might have a chance at getting in the RBC Canadian Open.
And then the FedEx Cup playoffs begin for the top 125.
The players who finish from 126 to 200 would qualify for the four tournament series called “The Finals” that, in effect, replaces Q-school and awards 25 cards to the top finishers on that separate money list. With so few starts, Kim would have to play well to get into the top 200.
Claiming an injury so that he could start the season fresh in October would not do him any good because he would only get about four starts, the same as he realistically could have played starting in July.
His best hope would be to get a few exemptions earlier in the year and make the most of them. But those rules have changed, too. Because of the short season, tournaments no longer have four unrestricted exemptions to award. The number has been reduced to two, and tournaments have to award four spots to players from Q-school or the Web.com Tour based on their priority ranking. Kim is toward the bottom.
So the kid with the polished swing came a long way to get his PGA Tour card. And he still has a long way to go.
Meanwhile, Kim is the answer to this trivia question: Three players who earned their cards at Q-school have never competed in a PGA Tour event — Kim, Donald Constable and Henrik Norlander.
LONG JOURNEY: Donald Constable concluded the longest journey of any player who earned his PGA Tour card this week. The Minnesota golfer had to go through a three round pre-qualifier, then a four round first stage before, surviving a four round second stage by making it on the number. At the gruelling six round final stage, Constable was forced to sweat it out to the very end. Needing a par on the 18th hole of the Stadium Course, he hit his tee shot into an area of thin sand in a bunker, found the far end of the green and lagged a 45-foot to within 5 feet of the cup. Facing the most meaningful putt of his life, he poured it right in the middle and 1,186 strokes of golf later, he is a PGA Tour member.
How would he have felt next year if that putt only meant a spot on the Web.com Tour?
“It’s hard to say,” Constable said. “Obviously, this is something you’re working toward your whole life. It makes it tougher, knowing it’s right there and you’re so close and one shot can make a difference. It would probably be easier if you were only playing for the Web.com Tour.”
CHA-CHING: By ending Q-School as a means to gain direct entry to the PGA, the Tour is taking a financial hit. This year, the Tour is expected to take in $6-million in entry fees (1,588 x $4,000). Prize money paid out will amount to about $1-million. Next year, Q-School will be used simply to gain entry to the developmental Web.com Tour
LONG & SHORT OF IT: After indicating he would likely continue to use a broom-style putter with an anchored stroke up to 2016 and beyond, Adam Scott appeared to have some second thoughts this week as he prepared for the Australian Open. Scott, who finished runner-up at the Open Championship earlier this year, was spotted clutching a traditional putter with a slightly extended shaft in his bag. Scott employed a claw-style grip with is bottom hand, similar to what he does with the broomstick putter - the only difference is that there was a clear gap between the end of the club handle and his body.
But after “messing around”, as he put it, Scott told reporters he will probably go back to using his old faithful broomstick for the forseeable future.
“I ordered that putter a while back,” Scott told reporters in Sydney. “I was experimenting for my own use.
“I’ll probably putt with the long putter. The other one I was messing around with was my first go and it is not quite what I want it to do. It is not quite set up right for me.
“I think I putt fine with any putter. I have spent the last two years learning a skill with the broomstick putter and that is what I am going to use this week, most likely.
“Until I invent a better way to putt for myself, I’ll stick to the broomstick. I certainly like a lot of the philosophies of putting with a broomstick.”
“Whatever way I putt in the future, if I just move the hand off my chest an inch or a centimetre or whatever it is, I’ll be making an honest stroke. It will look exactly the same.
“It is simple. I can move it slightly off my chest and use the same putter but I think there are better ways than that.
“We are all searching for the best possible way and I think there are still better ways for me to go about it.”
“This is hell week. There was a sense of urgency for me. I don’t know if my health is going to hold up. If I could only go to the Web.com Tour, I probably would beat myself up.” -- Erik Compton, who only four years ago nearly died of a heart attack and is a two-time heart transplant recipient, on earning his PGA Tour card for 2013 at Q-School.
Files from Reuters and the Associated Press were used in this report