McCoy Is Q-School Medalist; Constable's Closing 64 Isn't Quite Enough
December 12, 2017
By Mike Fermoyle (email@example.com)
CHANDLER, Ariz. -- Lee McCoy, a former No.1-ranked amateur in the world, encountered a painful detour on his way to the Final Stage of Web.com Tour Qualifying. Nevertheless, when he did get there last week, he made the most of it. Posting three rounds of 65 or better at Whirlwind Golf Club, he concluded 72 holes with a total of 260 (28 under par) and earned medalist honors by two strokes.
Being the medalist at the new Q-School -- as opposed to the old one, which was stretched out to a torturous 108 holes and sent the top 25 finishers directly to the PGA Tour -- is a big deal. It comes with a full exemption for the next season on the Web.com Tour. Players who ended up second through 10th will be exempt through the 12th event of 2018. Those who finished 11th through 45th (and ties) will be exempt until the first reshuffle of the year, after eight tournaments. Anyone who finishes lower than 45th will be partially exempt.
Two courses at Whirlwind GC were used for the Q-School finale: The Cattail (par 72, 7,334 yards) and Devils Claw (par 72, 7,029 yards). McCoy played his opening round at Cattail on Thursday. The 23-year-old former University of Georgia All-American birdied three of the first five holes, then bogeyed the sixth, a 180-yard par-3. He never made another bogey the rest of the week, over 66 holes. His worst score was a 67 at Devils Claw in the second round, but he made up for that with a 63 at the longer Cattail Course in the third. That gave him a share of the lead, and he never surrendered it.
He closed with a 65 on Sunday.
McCoy could very well have made it through the Web.com Q-School last year, had it not been for a car accident that he was involved in on the way to the Second Stage. (There are four stages of Q-School, a Preliminary Stage, followed by the First, Second and Final stages.) He suffered a broken wrist in the accident and had to withdraw. That was the end of his year.
In 2017, he played on the MacKenzie (Canadian) Tour, winning once and ending the season No. 6 on the money list, with $58,051 in 12 tournaments. That gave him conditional status on next year's Web.com Tour. Now his status is no longer conditional.
"Not having that added pressure of making the reshuffles and not knowing whether or not I'm going to be playing in the coming weeks, it's huge," McCoy said. "It definitely adds a level of comfort."
Sung-jae Im, a 19-year-old from South Korea, was in a good position after shooting 68-67 in the first two rounds. Then he produced the best round of the week, a 60, on Saturday, which propelled him pinto a tie for the lead with McCoy and pretty much assured him of getting his Web.com Tour Card. He added a 67 on Sunday and finished second with a 262.
Curtis Luck, the 2016 U.S. Amateur champion, matched Im's 67, and it bumped him up into a tie for third with Mark Blakefield at 266, six behind McCoy.
It took a 72-hole aggregate of 270 (18 under) to make the top 10, and the scores were so bunched that you had to post a 274 to crack the top 45. That would have put you in a 15-way tie for 42nd.
Quite possibly the happiest -- or most relieved -- of the 15 guys who ended up at that number was Brady Schnell. The 2008 North Dakota Open champion (he was also the leading money-winner on the Dakotas Tour that year) birdied the 507-yard, par-5 15th hole and the 442-yard, par-4 18th at Devils Claw on Sunday to shoot 65 and finish at The Magic Number of 274. That seemed like poetic justice, actually, because Schnell was on the Web.com Tour in 2017 and just missed finishing in the top 75 on the money list, which would have guaranteed him exempt status in 2018. Instead, he wound up No. 77 with $63,362 -- $643 behind No. 75 Jacques Blaauw.
Donald Constable, the former Minnesota State Amateur -- and state high school -- champ from Minnetonka, played magnificently over the weekend. He shot 65 in the third round and lit up Devils Claw to the tune of 64 in the fourth, but he had given himself too high a mountain to climb with his first two rounds of 76 and 72. The killer was a quadruple-bogey 7 on the 162-yard third hole -- his 12th of the round -- at Cattail in the opening round. That Thursday 76 put him near the bottom of the 156-man field, and he was still in the basement after two rounds.
When he played Cattail again on Saturday, he birdied his nemesis -- the par-3 third -- demonstrating once again what a strange game golf is. The 65 that day moved him up 40 places. From there, he needed something like 62 in the final round, and he made a valiant run at it. Constable started Day 4 on the back nine and birdied the daunting 222-yard, par-3 12th, the 361-yard, par-4 13th and the 507-yard, par-5 15th. He added three more birdies over the first four holes on the front nine, with a 3 at the 424-yard first, a 4 at the 593-yard third and a 2 at the 190-yard fourth. An eagle at the 564-yard, par-5 sixth kept his hopes alive, but he couldn't conjure up any more birdies.
As good as his valedictory 64 was, it could do no more than lift him up 33 spots into a tie for 73rd at 277. Based on the way things have gone in recent years, he should get into about eight Web.com events in 2018. The better you play in the tournaments you get into -- especially the early ones -- the better your status will be later on.
If it's any consolation to Constable, the 28-year-old former University of Minnesota star beat the newly crowned Australian Open champion, Cameron Davis, by six strokes. Davis put together a 72-68-69-74--283 and tied for 113th place.
MEN'S PROFESSIONAL GOLF
Web.com Tour Qualifying, pl
At Whirlwind Golf Club
The Cattail (par 72, 7,334 yards)
Devils Claw (par 72, 7,029 yards)
Final results (TC-- The Cattail; DC -- Devils Claw)
The medalist will be fully exempt for the entire 2018 Web.com Tour season. Those who finish second through 10th will be fully exempt until the second reshuffle, which will come after the 12th event of the year. Those 11th through 45th -- and ties -- will be fully exempt through the first reshuffle, afer eight events. Everyone else who made it to the Final Stage will be partially exempt.
1. Lee McCoy (TC) 65-67-63-65--260
2. Sung-jae Im (TC) 68-67-60-67--262
T3. Mark Blakefield (TC) 69-65-66-66--266
T3. Curtis Luck (TC) 67-64-68-67--266
T5. Kent Bulle (TC) 65-72-63-68--268
T5. Brian Richey (TC) 68-64-67-69--268
T42. Brady Schnell (DC) 72-70-67-65--274
What it took to make the top 45: 274 (14 under par) -- 15-way tie for 42nd
T57. Andre Metzger (TC) 73-67-67-68--275
T73. Donald Constable (DC) 76-72-65-64--277