By Mike Blum
Eight golfers missed earning their PGA Tour cards for 2012 by the margin of just one stroke in the finals of qualifying.
Among that group was Augusta’s Scott Parel, at the age of 46 one of the oldest competitors competing in the finals in LaQuinta, Calif. Parel, who has played six seasons on the Nationwide Tour, was looking to qualify for the PGA Tour for the first time, but will have to settle for exempt status on the Nationwide Tour next year.
Parel was one of five Georgians to earn fully exempt status on the Nationwide Tour next year off their play in the finals of Q-school. Seven others were already exempt for the 2012 season. Two others earned conditional status.
Here’s a look at how the Georgians who did not earn their PGA Tour cards did in the finals of Q-school.
Parel finished the six-round marathon at PGA West with a 7-under 425 total, tying for 30th. He was T73 after 54 holes at 2-under 214, but shot 70-67 the next two days to begin the final round tied for 13th. His 67 included a hole-in-one on No. 4 of the Stadium Course. But Parel managed just one birdie in the final round, parring 10 of his last 11 holes to come up one shot short of the PGA Tour.
Missing by two shots was Ringgold’s Luke List, who was 38th on the Nationwide Tour money list and will be back on the tour in 2012. List tied for 38th at 6-under 426, with a 77 in the second round severely damaging his chances. List shot 67 the next day to move up 50 spots to T56, but a final round 70 was his low score after that
Hudson Swafford, a 2011 UGA graduate, also missed by two at 426, with a double bogey on the 8th hole the final day damaging his hopes of qualifying for the PGA Tour. Swafford, who has moved to St. Simons Island, went from 68th after four rounds to a tie for 24th, shooting 65 with a hole-in-one on the same hole Parel aced. But he settled for a 73 the final day to tie for 38th.
Swafford tied for 2nd on the eGolf tour in his second start as a professional and won on that tour later in the season. He advanced to finals by finishing 2nd in his second stage qualifier at the Hombre in Panama City, Fla.
Former Norcross resident Reid Edstrom, who has limited Nationwide Tour experience, will be fully exempt for the first time in 2012 after finishing T51 at 427. Over the final 72 holes, Edstrom shot 12-under on the Stadium course, but was 8-over on the Nicklaus Tournament course.
A 69 on the Stadium course in the third round moved Edstrom up to T43, but he dropped 46 spots after a 78 on the Nicklaus layout. He responded with a sizzling 63 at the Stadium course the next day to vault into a tie for 24th, but closed with a 74 on the Nicklaus course. He parred his first eight holes the final day, but bogeyed four of the next seven. Edstrom played his college golf at Auburn and has settled there. He has played primarily on the mini-tours since turning pro in 1998.
Paul Haley, a 2011 Georgia Tech graduate, needed to birdie the final hole of his pre- qualifier to advance to first stage, eventually reaching the finals where he tied for 54th at 4-under 428. Haley was inside the top 15 after 54 and 72 holes, but shot 74 in the fifth round and closed with a 72. He was two shots over the cutoff for PGA Tour qualification with two holes to play, but finished bogey-bogey, his only bogeys on the day. Haley tied for 2nd in both his first and second stage qualifiers.
Former Clayton State golfer Will Wilcox also finished at 428. Wilcox was 36th on the Nationwide Tour this year, playing his way onto the tour with a tie for 3rd at the Stadion Classic at UGA. He made it into the field in a Monday qualifier. Wilcox was close to the number the entire week, beginning the final round T34 at 5-under. Needing to shoot 69 the final day, Wilcox was 3-under after five holes, but four bogeys in a 5-hole stretch beginning at the ninth knocked him out of contention.
Former Georgia Tech golfer Nicholas Thompson regained his exempt Nationwide status, tying for 63rd at 429. Thompson, who has played four years on the PGA Tour, was 61st on the Nationwide Tour this year, one spot shy of being fully exempt for 2012. A 78 in the fourth round dropped him from 33rd to 74th, but he closed with a pair of 70s.
After finishing 152 on the PGA Tour money list, David Duval headed back to Q school, but missed regaining his tour card by six strokes. Duval played well for the vast majority of the tournament, but suffered through one brief bad patch of holes each time he played the Stadium course. Duval was 14-over in three stretches totaling 10 holes, and 16-under the rest of the tournament. He was 4-under on his first nine the final day and just two strokes over the cutoff for earning his card, but played the first five holes on his final nine in 6-over. Duval will be play a limited PGA Tour schedule in 2012, relying on has past champion status and sponsor exemptions.
Neither Josh Broadaway of Paul Claxton played well in the finals, but both remain exempt on the Nationwide Tour. Broadaway, an Albany native, was in solid shape after 54 holes, but fell out of contention with a 78 in the fourth round, finishing with a triple bogey on the 18th hole. He tied for 103rd at 2-over 434. Claxton, a former UGA golfer and St. Simons resident, moved into contention after a second round 69, but that was the only time he was under par for the tournament. He finished well back at 440. Broadaway was 28th on the Nationwide Tour this year and Claxton was 40th.
Duluth’s Brent Witcher and former UGA golfer Richard Scott will have non-exempt Nationwide Tour status after tying for 111th at 436. Witcher, who played his college golf at Valdosta State, struggled in his first two rounds on the Stadium course (75-77), but came back with a 70 on it the fifth day and followed with another 70 to advance more than 20 spots the final day. He had two eagles on his fifth round scorecard.
Scott, a native Canadian who lives on St. Simons, shot 78-77 the third and fourth rounds, but closed 69-70. Scott was a teammate of Brendon Todd, Kevin Kisner and Chris Kirk on Georgia’s 2005 NCAA Championship team.
Clayton Rask, a 2011 Nationwide Tour player living in Hampton, was looking to improve his status after placing 92nd on the money list. But he finished well back at Q-school after being tied for 33rd after three rounds. Rask was 10-under the first, third and final rounds, but has scores of 76, 82 and 78 the other three days.
Three other Georgians are exempt on the Nationwide Tour next year despite failing to reach finals. Macon’s Russell Henley won the Stadion Classic at UGA while a member of the UGA golf team and has since turned pro. He will be exempt next year along with ex-Georgia golfer Justin Bolli and LaFayette’s John Kimbell, who both finished in the top 60 on the money list.