Pressure builds for Anderson, Jarosch

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:49 AM ET

It's only three steps, but they might as well be in a minefield on the moon.

A thousand guys line up every year for a chance to negotiate all three stages of PGA Q-School, and about 975 of them never make it.

The gruelling test of nerve and skill spits out more than it rewards, but when the rewards are that great, they'll never stop trying.

And for a couple of familiar faces on the local golf scene, it's one step down and two to go.

Edmonton's Barrett Jarosch and Stuart Anderson, who set up his home base in Edmonton and Calgary before moving to Victoria, blew through the first stage and will tee it up in Stage 2 next week in California.

Anderson shot 71-70-67-67 to finish first in a field of 72 players at the Hollister, Calif., site (one of 13 first-stage sites across the U.S.).

"I couldn't have dreamed it up any better," said Anderson, who had friend and former Canadian Tour player Danny Sahl caddying for him. "That helped a lot, and I was just playing solid."

Jarosch shot 72-66-66-72 to finish tied for second, also at Hollister.

"It was nice to go out and play well when there's pressure on," he said. "It was nice, even though I struggled the first and last days, it was nice to fight through and make my bad days even par and my good days six under."

It only gets harder from here. Both players are competing in the Oak Valley, Calif., venue (one of six second-stage sites), where 21 of 90 entrants move on to the six-round final stage.

From there, 25 from the field of about 165 will be granted full status on the PGA Tour.

And, almost as importantly, anyone who makes it to the third stage gets a Nationwide card for next season.

"The second stage is a grind," said Anderson, who's made it through first stage a couple of times but has never been able to complete the second step. "You've got former champions and former PGA members who fill up the second stage. Guys like Kirk Triplett and Bob May, veteran guys who finished outside the top 150 on the PGA. You're definitely put to the test, especially knowing that if you do get through you're not playing the Canadian Tour for another year."

Nothing against Canada, but the money is about five times better on the Nationwide.

A win at the Edmonton Telus Open paid $24,000 last year, while wins on the Nationwide Tour were in the $112,000 range, and went as high as $180,000.

Tenth at Telus paid about $3,750, while 10 on the Nationwide ranged from $18,000 to $29,000.

"That's when you make the change from just trying to keep your head above water to actually making a living at it," said Jarosch, 26, who was fourth in the first stage last year, then couldn't overcome a 41 on his first nine holes of the second stage and missed by a couple strokes.

"Second stage, the players are better, the courses are tougher and I was a little nervous. I'm a little more confident this time and I'm flying in my coach to work with me and caddy for me, so that should help."

They both wish they could have started the second stage after holing out in the 72nd hole in stage one, but there's always a break. It's the best players who advance to the PGA, not the hottest.

"That's the hardest part about it," said Anderson, who finished fifth on the Canadian Tour's money list last season. "You can't keep going, you have to wait about two weeks to start your next stage,"

He'll get there tonight and will have four full days of practice to get ready for it.

"It's pretty exciting times right now," he said. "Next week determines everything."

ROBERT.TYCHKOWSKI@SUNMEDIA.CA


Videos

Photos