Nov. 27, 2012
By Matt Winkeljohn
They can both improve their situations significantly over the next six days in the third and final stage of the PGA’s Qualifying School in La Quinta, Calif., near Palm Springs.
White will tee off at 8:20 a.m. (Pacific time) on the PGA West Nicklaus Course, and Hadley will tee off 20 minutes behind him, also on the Nicklaus Course.
Golfers will play six rounds (three on each course, including the Stadium) through Sunday, and the top 25 finishers (out of 174) and those tied for a top 25 score will be fully exempt for next year’s PGA Tour. That, of course, is a very big deal.
The next 50 players plus ties after the top 25 this year, meanwhile, earn Web.com Tour cards. Anyone outside the top 50 receives conditional status on the Web.com Tour, where Hadley had quite a season in 2012.
Having been through a college career’s worth of six-round qualifiers at Georgia Tech, which coach Bruce Heppler usually staged/stages before every event rather than hand pick his travel squad, White said he’s pretty comfortable with the format.
That would not be the norm. Consider this comment from golfer Jerry Kelly from a story on PGATOUR.com:
“I can safely say I hate q-school. I hate it with a passion. I thought about it this year, but why would I want go back there and put myself through that? The romanticism of it? It’s a miserable place.”
White, though, said his Tech training may help.
“Definitely,” he said, “just to know that I’ve played a six-round qualifier before and a a lot of these guys haven’t.”
The last couple years of Hadley’s career over-lapped the first two of White’s, and the two saw plenty of each other during the first stage of Q School.
That Hadley is still in the running is a story in itself. He initially missed qualifying out of the second stage, but when a golfer who finished in front of him self-reported a scoring error afterwards, Hadley and a few others moved up into a tie to qualify for the final stage.
Former Jacket Nicholas Thompson is also out in Palm Springs, trying to improve his standing. He’ll tee off at 9:10 on the Nicklaus Course.
Although Hadley and White will see each other, their schedules have not over-lapped much out west. It’s a to-each-his-own kind of deal.
“We each came in this week with the plan for how we wanted to approach this week and it didn’t match up,” White said. “I got here on Saturday, he got here earlier than I did, and his plan was to play nine holes one day, then 18, then nine and there are two courses. There are 36 holes that we have to practice on. It’s a lot of golf if you play every day when you’re going to have to play six rounds.”
White is working alone without family, save the caddie – Rick Davis – who was referred to him at Tech’s primary practice grounds, the Golf Club of Georgia.
“My caddie sometimes comes out here for the winter, literally five minutes from here. He’s very familiar with the area,” he said. “He just said he didn’t feel like he was in good enough school to go Q-school.”