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Love, Yip start strong at PGA Tour Q-School finale

Wed, 30 Nov 2011 20:15:56

by Jeff Brooke

If the PGA Tour's qualifying tournament is a marathon, as they say, then six of Canada's entrants got off to a nice running start. The other three tripped on their laces at the starting line.

Calgarians Ryan Yip and James Love led the Canadian contingent in the opening round of Q-school at PGA West in La Quinta, Calif., on Wednesday, firing four-under-par 68s. Both making their career Q-school debuts, they were tied for 26th place, four shots in arrears of the pace setters, Americans Will Claxton and Daniel Summerhays.

Adam Hadwin of Abbotsford, B.C., and Stuart Anderson of Sooke, B.C., were two shots further behind at two under, sharing 61st place.

Richard Scott of Kingsville, Ont., was tied for 88th at one under and Brad Fritsch of Ottawa got around in even-par 72.

The Q-school final this week is the last stop for players aspiring to join (or rejoin, in some cases) the PGA Tour. More than 170 players are at PGA West, playing two courses three times each in an 108-hole epic that will end next Monday with the top 25 claiming PGA Tour cards for 2012.

The next 50 earn full-time status on the Nationwide Tour and the other 100 walk away with conditional status on the lower-tier circuit.

Yip, Love and Anderson all opened on the Nicklaus Tournament course, considered the easier of the two. Hadwin, Scott and Fritsch started on the Stadium course.

All six are Canadian Tour regulars looking to get a promotion to the PGA Tour. Hadwin has tasted the big league the most of late, making five starts in 2011 and earning more than $400,000 (U.S.). His success prompted the PGA Tour to give him a direct pass to the Q-school final this week.

While those six Canadians were even par or better, three others ended their first round in the black, which is not good in golf.

Matt McQuillan, a Kingston golfer who played on the PGA Tour this year but didn't retain his card, shot 74 at Nicklaus Tournament and was tied for 146th. McQuillan's situation is not dire, however. He finished high enough on the money list this year, at 137th, to give him some playing opportunities on the PGA Tour next year regardless of how he finishes this week. He's really just playing to upgrade his status.

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