Q-school loses Cinderella moments

Canadian golfer Adam Hadwin says he understands why Q-school will no longer be an automatic...

Canadian golfer Adam Hadwin says he understands why Q-school will no longer be an automatic springboard to the PGA Tour, beginning in 2013. (GETTY IMAGES)

TIM MCKAY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:02 PM ET

Adam Hadwin is a fan of Cinderella stories.

After all, the 24-year-old Abbotsford, B.C., native was one in 2011, with a dream season taking him from the Canadian Tour to making the cut at the U.S. Open to contending on Sunday in PGA Tour events, most notably his national open championship.

That’s why he’s torn on the PGA’s decision to kill the qualifying school as a quick way to the top tour. It’s something that will eliminate those Cinderella stories but at the same time, he understands the move.

PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem announced Tuesday at Bay Hill that starting in 2013, the way PGA Tour membership cards are doled out will be changed so that all 50 will be awarded through the Nationwide Tour. The final three tournaments will consist of fields that include the top 75 players on the Nationwide Tour money list, those ranked 126-200 on the PGA Tour FedExCup list and a handful of non-members who meet certain criteria.

“I know their plans of mixing the Nationwide and PGA and taking guys there and only having Q-School be for Nationwide,” Hadwin said. “I understand why they’re doing it. But there’s a lot of guys that come from tour school. Even this year, you have a guy like John Huh who wouldn’t be there and he has already won on (the PGA) tour. Or Sang-moon (Bae), who went through Q-school and just finished second, lost in a playoff (Sunday at the Transitions championship).

“The new plan would eliminate those good stories.”

Hadwin has been through Q-school three times himself and while he says it’s an excellent opportunity, it isn’t reflective of a body of work, it’s more of a chance to capitalize for players who get hot at the right time.

“I’ve been through the Q-school experience. I know what a grind it is,” Hadwin said. “Last year I went straight into the final (stage) so I didn’t have to go through the first two stages. But my first two years I went through the first and second, then straight to the second: They’re difficult.

“It sucks for me because I had to get hot three different weeks with breaks in between and that wasn’t easy.”

The youngster says that while he hasn’t fully formed an opinion on the matter one way or the other, he’s leaning toward liking it the new way because it takes out the fluke-factor, even though those can be good stories.

“I’m more a proponent of playing a full year and getting on that way,” he said. “I think the two biggest reasons are that the numbers show that guys coming off the Nationwide Tour keep their card much more often than the guys that are coming out of Q-school. And the other reason is sponsorship. The Nationwide Tour is losing (its title sponsor) this year. So what better way to try and sell this tour than say, ‘Well, this is the only way to get to the PGA Tour.”

With the changes (if rubber-stamped) set to occur next season, Hadwin is hoping he won’t have to worry about it too much on the strength of a strong 2012 campaign.

“If you’re top 25 on this tour, it speaks a lot more volume than you just getting hot for three weeks and getting your card that way,” he said. “It’s worth a lot more in my eyes, than just getting through Q-school.”

And that is the primary motivation for Hadwin and his Nationwide Tour brethren.

“Really, I only have one goal this year and that’s to be in the top 25 at the end of the year to get a PGA Tour card,” said Hadwin, who has missed the cut in two of his three early season Nationwide Tour starts. “It doesn’t really matter how I get there. If I miss every cut until the last four events and then win the last four events, or win three events early and get to the PGA Tour, it doesn’t really matter to me, as long as I get there.”

That’s what’s great about this kid. He had an outside chance to get “there” — to that elusive PGA Tour membership card — with strong earnings in just five PGA Tour starts last season and you have to think, no matter which path he takes to do it, he will make it sooner or later.

For now, Hadwin, who is playing in this week’s Chitimacha Louisiana Open and feels his game is coming around with some work on his putting, is enjoying the challenge of playing on the second-tier tour.

“It’s a great opportunity to prove myself out here.”

ON THE TEE

PGA Tour

Arnold Palmer Invitational

Bay Hill Club and Lodge (7,419 yards, par 72), Orlando

* Tiger Woods, who has won here six times, comes in with his Achilles tendon a question. Mike Weir returns from Europe, where he made a cut, to see if he can compete with the big boys.

LPGA Tour

Kia Classic

La Costa Resort and Spa, Legends Course (6,490 yards, par 72), Carlsbad, Calif.

* The final tuneup for the ladies’ first major, next week’s Kraft Nabisco Championship

European Tour

Hassan II Trophy

Golf du Palais Royal (6,945 yards, par 72), Agadir, Morocco

* John Daly and Rich Beem on a course used only by King Mohammed VI when the tournament isn’t being played?

 

tim.mckay@sunmedia.ca

Twitter: @TimMcKayGolf


Videos

Photos