Keeping PGA card the hard part for Manotick's Brad Fritsch

Newly inducted PGA tour player Brad Fritsch talks to media during a celebration night in his...

Newly inducted PGA tour player Brad Fritsch talks to media during a celebration night in his honour, held at Rideau View Golf Club, Friday, November 2, 2012. (Matthew Usherwood/QMI AGENCY)

MIKE KOREEN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:35 PM ET

Manotick’s Brad Fritsch scratched and clawed his way to an 18th-place finish on the Web.com Tour money list to earn his PGA Tour card.

Now comes the hard part.

As tough as it is to get a spot on the PGA Tour (Fritsch did so by finishing in the top 25 on the Web.com money list), it’s more difficult to stay there. For proof, we invite you to take Canadian golf history 101.

Heck, even Mike Weir had to return to Q-School after his first season on the PGA Tour. Others simply fade away after a season or two.

To maintain a full card, a golfer has to finish in the top 125 on the money list. What’s more, rookies don’t get in to many events.

Here’s a look at the career paths of Canada’s most famous current golfers, Weir and Stephen Ames, and our five most recent PGA Tour members.

MIKE WEIR

  • Age: 42
  • Hometown: Brights Grove
  • Career PGA earnings: $26,821,686
  • First full year on PGA Tour: 1998 (tied for 26th at 1997 Q-School; top 35 got tour cards)
  • Rookie season: Up-and-down year ended with Weir 131st on the money list with $219,967, sending him back to Q-School. Heated up toward end of year, tying for fifth at the Greater Vancouver Open and tying for seventh at the B.C. Open.
  • Story since then: Weir regained momentum by winning Q-School following his rookie year. The next 10 years or so were nothing short of spectacular. The whole country jumped on the Weirsy bandwagon in 2003 when he won the Masters. Weir has eight PGA Tour victories, but hasn’t been close to top form in recent years, struggling badly with his game and injuries.

STEPHEN AMES

  • Age: 48
  • Hometown: Calgary
  • Career PGA earnings: $19,380,153
  • First full year on PGA Tour: 1998 (Tied for third at 1997 Q-School)
  • Rookie season: Kept his card by finishing 83rd on the money list with $357,859. However, Ames had big-time pro experience, playing on the European Tour the previous five years. In his first tourney as a member, Ames tied for third at the Nissan Open. He followed that up with two more top-10 finishes.
  • Story since then: A 139th-place finish on the money list last year was the first time Ames had finished outside the top 125 since joining the tour. Ames has won four events on tour, highlighted by a Players Championship triumph in 2006. He has six top-10 finishes at majors, the best being a tie for fifth at the British Open in 1997.

GRAHAM DeLEAT

  • Age: 30
  • Hometown: Weyburn, Sask.
  • Career PGA earnings: $2,030,306
  • First full year on PGA Tour: 2010 (tied for eighth at 2009 Q-School)
  • Rookie season: The top money winner on the Canadian Tour in 2009, DeLaet certainly didn’t look out of place on the big tour after skipping the Web.com circuit. He made a big charge in October, finishing all four events in the top 25 to retain his card.
  • Story since then: DeLaet played just two events in 2011 before a back injury sidelined him. That forced him to take a major medical extension, meaning he had to make just over $657,000 in 26 events in 2012 to keep his card. He posted two top-10 results before May and got himself into the playoffs, where he tied for fifth at the Barclays. DeLaet finished 94th on the money list.

DAVID HEARN

  • Age: 33
  • Hometown: Brantford
  • Career PGA earnings: $2,151,487
  • First full year on PGA Tour: 2005 (Tied for 21st at PGA Tour Q-School)
  • Rookie season: A definite struggle. Hearn made 14-of-24 cuts with a top finish of a tie for 13th at the B.C. Open. Hearn finished with $197,453, good for a 196th-place finish on the money list, well back of retaining a partial or full card. Therefore, it was back to Q-School.
  • Story since then: After the rough rookie season on the PGA Tour, Hearn played five consecutive seasons on the Web.com Tour. He couldn’t crack the 25-person graduation class until 2010 when he came 21st on the money list. Hearn’s second PGA circuit in 2011 proved far more rewarding. He was 104th on the money list in 2011 and jumped to 95th this year with $1.012 million.

JON MILLS

  • Age: 34
  • Hometown: Belleville
  • Career PGA earnings: $576,811
  • First full year on PGA Tour: 2006 (finished fifth on the Web.com Tour money list in 2005)
  • Rookie season: The jump to the No. 1 tour proved to be too much of a leap for Mills. While he made the cut in his first event in Hawaii, weekend play was rare for Mills. He made just 6-of-27 cuts for the season. Mills ended up 227th on the money list.
  • Story since then: Mills finished fourth on the Web.com money list in 2007 to get back to the PGA the following season. In 2008, he certainly fared better. He made the cut in 16 of 32 events and had four top-25 finishes. But he struggled down the stretch, missing the cut in his final eight events to finish 154th on the money list. He’s been on the Web.com Tour ever since.

CHRIS BARYLA

  • Age: 30
  • Hometown: Calgary
  • Career PGA earnings: $225,092
  • First full year on PGA Tour: 2005 (Tied for 21st at PGA Tour Q-School)
  • Rookie season: After winning the Web.com Chattanooga Classic in October 2009, Baryla seemed to have some momentum. But that was quickly derailed as he stepped up to the top tour in the world. Baryla played just seven events before hip and labrum injuries ended his freshman campaign. He made just 2-of-7 cuts, topping out with a tie for 62nd in April at the Shell Houston Open, which turned out to be his final event for the year.
  • Story since then: The short 2010 campaign resulted in a medical exemption for Baryla, but he didn’t end up needing it after tying for 11th at 2010 Q-School in December. While he had his health back, he couldn’t find his A-game. Baryla had a miserable 2011 campaign on the PGA Tour, making just 1-of-20 cuts. This year, Baryla played just eight events on the Web.com Tour and made one cut.

MATT McQUILLAN

  • Age: 31
  • Hometown: Kingston
  • Career PGA earnings: $603,785
  • First full year on PGA Tour: 2011 (Tied for 16th at 2010 PGA Q-School)
  • Rookie season: Maintained partial status on the tour by finishing 137th on the money list with $582,933. Came out of nowhere to earn his card (he was out of golf a couple years earlier, working at a pizza joint at home). After missing 10 cuts in a row, McQuillan posted a stunning tie for third at the John Deere Classic. He followed that up with two more top-10 results, falling just a bit short of the top 125 and a full card for 2012.
  • Story since then: After withdrawing from 2011 Q-School following a rough start, McQuillan has gone into a deep funk. He has made just 2-of-11 cuts this season, with a best finish of a tie for 72nd at the FedEx St. Jude Classic.

mike.koreen@sunmedia.ca

Twitter: MKor1980


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