LA QUINTA, Ca. – Double heart-transplant recipient Erik Compton was among the 26 players who earned fully-exempt PGA Tour cards on the final day of the six-day Qualifying School.
The Tour next year will end a half-century of tradition when Q-school will only provide cards to the Web.com Tour.
The Tour is changing its structure to make it more competitive than ever. The players who failed to reach the FedExCup playoffs will meet in a series of four tournaments called “The Finals,” and the 25 players who earn the most money from those events will get their cards.
Dong-Hwan Lee won the final Q-school. Here are the final Q-School qualifiers for the PGA Tour next season:
Player Career PGA Tour starts (bold indicated Tour rookie)
Dong-Hwan Lee 1
Ross Fishe 37
Steve LeBrun 3
Richard H. Lee 24
Billy Horschel 49
Kris Blanks 102
Erik Compton 56
Brad Fritsch 5
Jin Park 39
Fabian Gomez 26
Michael Letzig 97
Jeff Gove 163
Steven Bowditch 75
Matt Jones 120
Robert Karlsson 103
Eric Meierdierks 1
Scott Langley 5
Aaron Watkins 21
Derek Ernst 1
Si Woo Kim 0
Tag Ridings 182
Donald Constable 0
Bobby Gates 61
Patrick Reed 15
Henrik Norlander 0
Chez Reavie 131
Here are some selective notes on the newcomers:
- Dong Hwan Lee of South Korea Lee, 25, turned professional in 2005 and has earned a pair of victories on the Japan Golf Tour (2007 Mizuno Open, 2011 Toshin Open) and was named the Tour’s Rookie of the Year in 2006. He played five full seasons on the Japan Golf Tour and has made 105 career starts with 26 top-10 finishes and 51 top-25 finishes.
- Hwan Lee missed the cut at the 2007 British Open Championship, his only career start on the PGA TOUR. He also played four times on the Web.com Tour in 2008 and made one, finishing T15 at the weather-shortened (36-hole) New Zealand PGA Championship.
- Hwan Lee birdied his last three holes and four of his last five to earn the win and $50,000.
- England’s Ross Fisher went 2-2-0 for the European Team in winning the 2010 Ryder Cup. Fisher has made 24 or 37 cuts on the PGA Tour with a pair of top-10 finishes in 2009. He will be a rookie in 2013 on the Tour.
- Steve LeBrun, 34, has made three career starts on the PGA Tour including a T46 at the U.S. Open last year. He has made 42 of 102 cuts on the Web.com Tour with 11 top-10 finishes. In 1990, LeBrun was MVP of his all-star baseball team and pitched two no-hitters the same year. In 2008 he was inducted into Florida Atlantic University Athletics Hall of Fame. He also has worked as a substitute teacher.
- Derek Ernst, 22, played college golf at UNLV and is from Clovis, California – a suburb just northeast of Fresno. Ernst is one of the players who successfully navigated all three prior stages (pre-qualifying, first stage and second stage) to earn a start this week. Ernst has made only one previous start on the PGA Tour – a T41 at the 2012 Fry’s.com Open. Ernst opened with a 6-under 65 at CordeValle Golf Club in San Martin, CA, and was tied for second after the initial 18.Billy Horschel finished No. 147 on the 2012 PGA Tour money list in 17 starts. His only top 10 on Tour was a third-place finish at the True South Classic. He also made seen starts on the Web.com Tour in 2012.
- Kris Blanks has made 20 or more starts on the Tour in each of the last four years. In 2012, he made 11 cuts in 23 starts with only one top-25 finish (T11 Valero Texas Open). In 2011, he finished No. 65 on the final money list. Blanks made his fourth appearance in the PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament this week. Blanks finished T131 in 2004, T33 in 2007 and T12 in 2009.
- Steven Bowditch made a total of 12 cuts in 30 starts during the 2012 season. He was five of 18 on the Tour and seven of 12 on the Web.com Tour. He made his third start in the Tour Qualifying Tournament. He finished T46 in 2006 and T38 one year ago. Bowditch’s last win came on the Web.com Tour at the 2010 Soboba Golf Classic in nearby San Jacinto, California (approx. 45 minutes away). Bowditch put together rounds of 70-64-63-68—265 (-19) to win by three shots and collect his second career title.
- Eric Meierdierks, a 27-year old from Chicago, played college golf at Michigan State. He has made only one career start on the PGA Tour and missed the cut at the 2009 Frys.com Open.
- Si Woo Kim, a 17-year old high school student from South Korea, is the youngest player in the field this week. He was 17 years, 5 months and 6 days on Monday. Ty Tryon is believed to be the youngest player to advance to the Tour through the Tour Qualifying Tournament. Tryon was 17 years, 6 months, 1 day in 2001 when he finished T23 to earn a spot on the PGA Tour in 2002.
- Si Woo Kim does not turn 18 until June 28, 2013 and can not become a PGA Tourmember until that time. He can play no more than 12 PGA Tour events as a non-member on sponsor exemptions, foreign exemptions or top-10 finishes prior to that date. Monday Qualifiers do not count against that number so he can play unlimited Monday Qualifiers.
- Twelve players qualified by making it through all three stages – Lee Bedford, Donald Constable, Derek Ernst, Dusty Fielding, Vince Hatfield, Stephan Jaeger, Si Woo Kim, Joakim Mikkelsen, Henrik Norlander, Bhavik Patel, Ryan Sullivan and James White.