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And then there were nine — how many Canucks will get through Q School

I’ve been prepping for a feature on PGA Tour qualifying school, so I’ve been talking to a number of the Canadians who managed to get to final stage. There are nine in all — including Matt McQuillan who didn’t quite manage to get his card back last year.

Some, like Richard Scott, the three-time Canadian Amateur champ, were expected to get to this point years ago. Others, like Richard T. Lee, are hardly recognized in their home country (Lee has lived in Arizona for several years). What’s clear is that we’ll at least have nine Nationwide Tour players with some status.

But the real question is how many will make it through to the show?

Adam Hadwin hopes to be there. After making the cut in five PGA Tour starts, including two Top 10s, Hadwin fell into a strange area where he ended up in the final stage despite not having any standing on the PGA Tour. It basically had to do with the decline this year in where the Top 150 money earner stood. Score’s Jason Logan explained it well earlier this month.

Hadwin’s take on the situation is the number of Canadians at Q School demonstrates the strength of the game in Canada: “It speaks volumes to the state of the game here.”

I suppose it does — after all there were six Canadians on the PGA Tour at the start of the year, and there will be at least five next year (Stephen Ames, Mike Weir, Graham DeLaet, David Hearn, and McQuillan will also have some starts). If even three of the eight (aside from McQuillan) get through, it would be a significant step for Canadian golf.

Frankly, this is important because the mainstream media in Canada has all but ignored Canadian golf following the decline of Weir over the past two years. Two of the country’s major papers have no golf coverage with any regularity, and though I suspect both did one-off pieces on Hearn’s success at some point last year, neither covers the game with any regularity.

Would having eight or nine Canadians at the top level of the game be enough to catch the interest of the newspapers?

That said, I have a feeling we won’t see three of the nine with full status on the PGA Tour. That’s not necessarily a bad thing — with the exception of McQuillan, none of the group have had much exposure to the PGA Tour and therefore one would wonder what degree of success they’d have once they got there. The Nationwide Tour could give them the experience they need to make it to that next level.

However, both DeLaet and Weir went straight from the Canadian Tour to the PGA Tour, so it isn’t out of the question.

Hadwin is clearly the one to watch given his play on the PGA Tour this year in very limited starts. There are plenty in Canadian golf who somehow missed his potential (just ask a couple of the sports management agencies in this country) and now wish they’d considered the aggressive playing Abbotsford, BC native might be the country’s next golf star. He would seem to have it all — an outgoing personality (unlike say Weir, who is quiet and understated), an aggressive game, an interest in the spotlight and an overwhelming desire to win. If his short game holds up, Hadwin could be a great one-two punch with the big hitting DeLaet (assuming he’s recovered from his back surgery that derailed his sophomore season).

Q School starts tomorrow and runs through to Monday over six rounds. This could be some of the more compelling viewing this year (it typically is), especially with the likes of David Duval, Rich Beem, Boo Weekley, Lee Janzen all battling for full status. There are a lot of other interesting storylines as well (Ty Tryon is there, former Canadian Open winner Nathan Green is there, as is CanOpen runner up Dean Wilson, Masters runner-up Len Mattiace, etc.)

Brad Zeimer has a story on Q School, including interviews with Hadwin and Ryan Yipp.

Wes Gilbertson in the Kingston Whig has interviews with James Love and Hadwin.

The Vancouver Sun interviews Stuart Anderson, who will also be teeing it up this week.

 

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Robert Thompson

A bestselling author and award-winning columnist, Robert Thompson has been writing about business and sports, and particularly golf, for almost two decades. His reporting and commentary on golf has appeared in Golf Magazine, the Globe and Mail, T&L Golf and many other media outlets. Currently Robert is a columnist with Global Golf Post, golf analyst for Global News and Shaw Communications, and Senior Writer to ScoreGolf. The Going for the Green blog was launched in 2004.

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