Davis earns PGA Q-School medallist honours
Brian Davis of England won the PGA Tour qualifying tournament Monday.
David Hearn of Canada survived it.
Playing in the final group and seemingly a lock to earn a job on the PGA Tour next year, Hearn squandered six shots and was on the cut line until coming up with two of the biggest putts of his career -- a 15-foot par save on the 17th and a 40-foot birdie from the fringe on the final hole.
"I made it a little more dramatic that I needed to," said Hearn, all smiles after signing for a 5-over 77.
Hearn and Davis were among 35 players who earned PGA Tour cards after making it through six rounds on two troublesome courses at PGA West in one of the most pressure-packed tournaments in golf.
Davis had a six-shot lead to start the final round and was one of the few who felt no pressure. Despite a double bogey on the par-3 17th, he closed with a 74 and finished at 17-under 415 for a one-shot victory over Rob Rashell. Davis earned $50,000 in becoming the straight second European to win Q-school.
Others who earned their card were past PGA Tour winners Bill Glasson, Jim Carter and J.P. Hayes. The group also included Phillip Price of Wales, who beat Phil Mickelson in a pivotal singles match in the '02 Ryder Cup.
The cutoff for PGA Tour cards came at 7-under 425.
There were plenty of hugs outside the scoring trailer, especially among 14 players who will be PGA Tour rookies.
And there was the usual dose of heartache.
None was greater than Bob Burns, who won the Funai Classic at Disney two years ago. He was in the middle of the 18th fairway, one shot above the cut line, when he hit into a bunker and three-putted for double bogey to miss his card by a single shot.
Joel Edwards, another past PGA Tour champion, was on the cut line until hitting his tee shot into the water and taking double bogey. He took a long walk to the parking lot, letting out guttural screams and pounding his bag along the way, paying his caddie and slamming his car door as he drove off.
They were among 51 players who at least have full status on the Nationwide Tour next year.
That was little consolation to Bill Haas, who was hopeful of joining his father, Jay Haas, in the big leagues next year.
He had a birdie putt on all but one hole on the back nine of the Stadium Course but converted only one of them, shot 71 and missed his card by two shots. In the parking lot, his mother put her arm around his shoulder as Haas stared quietly with his head bowed.
"Obviously, I wasn't good enough this week," Haas said. "It's a humbling experience. It makes you not take things for granted and work harder."
But he hasn't given up on playing the PGA Tour next year, saying he would take seven sponsor's exemptions if he could get them.
"I don't like the Nationwide Tour," he said. "It's just not where I want to be."
Tim O'Neal, who was trying to join Woods as the only blacks on tour, shot 70 and missed by one shot.
Five years ago, O'Neal needed only to make bogey on the final hole on the Nicklaus course at PGA West when he drove into the water and made triple bogey. This time, he needed a birdie on the last hole to get his card, and he hit his approach into 15 feet. The birdie putt just grazed the lip on the high side.
"At least I gave myself a chance," O'Neal said.
Hearn couldn't make any birdies, then couldn't make a putt for par. When he missed one on the 14th, he angrily threw his putter at his bag and appeared headed for a shocking collapse.
He gathered himself just in time.
"I wasn't feeling comfortable out there, so I was disappointed in that," Hearn said. "But to make two putts like that coming in, I couldn't be happier."
Craig Barlow was ecstatic. He became the first player to open the six-day tournament with an 80 and still get his card. Barlow had to grind to the very end. He holed a 20-foot birdie putt on the 17th to reach the magic number of 7-under, then after laying up out of the rough on the 18th, he made a 10-footer for par to earn his card.
"I can't believe it," Barlow said. "Just goes to show you how silly this game can be. Regardless of the end result, I'm proud of myself to fight for that long."
The luck belonged to Scott Hend.
He was on the cut line when his approach sailed long of the 18th green and was headed for the water when the ball bounced along the rocks framing the lake and landed in a clump of grass. He chopped out to 8 feet and holed the putt for his 72 and his Tour card.
And in some respects, luck was on the side of Hayes.
A two-time PGA Tour winner whose exemption ran out this year, Hayes was in the second stage outside Houston that was rained out and shortened to 36 holes. He would have missed the cut, except Cliff Kresge bogeyed his last two holes and allowed nine additional players -- Hayes included -- to advance.
He took matters into his own hands Monday with a 67 to earn his card on the number.
"This was my most satisfying round since I won two years ago," Hayes said.
The grueling week over, now comes the hard part.
"It's great to get to the PGA Tour," Hearn said. "But the next step is to keep your card."
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