Great Heff-ort never ends

TODD SAELHOF, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:18 AM ET

Wes Heffernan wants to make the jump to the PGA so badly the three letters are forever on the tip of his tongue.

The Calgary golfer's so anxious he let loose a Freudian slip in talking about his consistency heading into another PGA Tour qualifying school.

"I made my last 13 cuts on the PGA Tour, and I played well in almost every event," said Heffernan, substituting the word 'PGA' for 'Canadian.'

"Oops ..." he continued with a chuckle. "I guess you can tell what's on my mind."

Not that what's rattling around in his brain is a big surprise when talking about -- or with -- the lanky Canadian Tour star.

After all, the 31-year-old Heffernan's been coveting a spot on golf's biggest stage for almost 10 years but has often come up a wedge or two short of his dream.

He just can't graduate from that pesky Q-school to attain the PGA Tour card, although Heffernan is a step closer in this year's run at it given his success has awarded him a bye past the first stage.

The Calgarian's second-place finish on the Can Tour's order of merit earned him a pass into the second stage of Q-school.

"The goal at the start of the year was to finish first on the order of merit," said Heffernan, who, with $96,154 in 14 events, finished runner-up to Can Tour champion John Ellis. The American pocketed a cool $113,315 playing 12 events.

"I was hoping to win, but second's not bad," Heffernan continued. "It means I don't have to go through the first stage of Q-school."

His best finish was tops in the $200,000 Canadian Tour Players Cup in mid-July in Winnipeg.

He tied for second at three other Can Tour stops -- in April at the Mexican PGA Championship in Mazatlan, in June at the Greater Vancouver Charity Classic and in September at the Canadian Tour Championship in Barrie, Ont.

"My consistency has been really good," Heffernan said.

"I didn't win as much on the Canadian Tour as I thought I would, but I was in contention most of the time. And I made those 13 cuts."

In particular, Heffernan worked hard on his putting this year to make it count big when it mattered most.

And it will matter most once again at Q-school Nov. 19 near Dallas.

If the 6-foot-1, 160-lb. Heffernan passes the second stage of Q-school, he heads to the final stage, where the Top 25 gain PGA Tour status and the next 50 gain Nationwide Tour cards.

But he also realizes if his game goes south during Q-school, he always has the Can Tour to fall back on, especially after enjoying a second straight successful season on the circuit.

"It's getting pretty good -- it's a good back-up plan," Heffernan said. "It's competitive enough that they're now starting to develop strong players on the Canadian Tour for the Nationwide and PGA."

Since it's his ninth time trying to pass Q-school, Heffernan is attempting to change his luck in two ways.

First, he headed to the Okanagan to hone his game.

It was a change from his usual sojourn to California to prepare for Q-school.

Heffernan has also opted to play the second stage at a different location this year. Instead of getting tested in California, the Calgarian has chosen to try and make the grade at Lantana Golf Club in Texas.

"The greens aren't always the best that time of year in California," Heffernan said. "So I want to play someplace else."

In preparation, he joined fellow Can Tour golfer Graham DeLaet, of Weyburn, Sask., last month to qualify for the World Cup of Golf.

Last year, Heffernan teamed with Mike Weir at the international event in Harbin, China. But Weir's decision not to play in this year's World Cup of Golf meant Canada had to qualify a two-man squad to participate in this fall's tournament. Since Weir and Jon Mills, who has already committed to a PGA Tour event, turned down invites, the onus fell on Heffernan, the top Canadian on the Can Tour money list. DeLaet is the next highest Canuck on the order of merit after earning a fourth-highest $66,065 total on the Can Tour.

Their success overseas in the qualifier sets them up for the World Cup, which goes Nov. 27-30.

The final stage of Q-school -- where Heffernan hopes to have his best round of 2008 -- will be played Dec. 3-8 at PGA West Nicklaus Tournament Course in La Quinta, Calif.


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