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Golf Draft Kit: Golfers on the Bubble

Jeremy Schilling

Jeremy Schilling

Schilling covers golf for RotoWire, focusing on young and up-and-coming players. He was a finalist for the FSWA's Golf Writer of the Year award. He also contributes to PGA Magazine and hosts the popular podcast "Teeing It Up" on BlogTalkRadio.

With the first full-field event of the 2013 PGA Tour season at this week's Sony Open in Hawaii, let's look some notable names from last season who were on the bubble for earning 2013 PGA Tour cards. Who earned cards for this year ... and who came up short?

QUALIFYING SCHOOL

Some say PGA Tour Qualifying School is the most pressure any pro will face. For some, their entire careers are on the line. If they make it, they get to play on golf's biggest stage. If they don't, it may be the end of the line. Here's a rundown of notable golfers who conquered Q-School to earn 2013 PGA Tour cards and those who just missed.

Erik Compton -
Everyone's feel-good story on the PGA Tour, the two-time heart transplant recipient didn't play his best when it mattered down the stretch on the PGA Tour in 2012. But he successfully navigated the grueling, six-round Q-School to earn back his card. With the knowledge of the golf courses added to his memory bank, look for Compton to contend more and more in 2013.

Patrick Reed -
Of the various ways to gain entrance into a PGA Tour event, Monday qualifying is incredibly hard - you have one round to go low and punch your ticket.
Reed earned the nickname Mr. Monday because in 2012 he successfully made it through six Monday qualifiers, an extremely impressive feat. His best finish was a tie for 11th at the Frys.com Open. He made it right on the number (-17 under) at Q-school, and now gets to spend 2013 trying to win the events he tried so desperately to just get into in 2012.

Si Woo Kim, Derek Ernst, Donald Constable, Henrik Norlander -
These four players get saluted because they did not just get their 2013 Tour cards by playing six rounds in the California desert. Instead they had to go through not one, but four, stages to get to this point: pre-qualifying, first stage, second stage and the final stage. That's a lot of good golf needed over a fairly large time span, which conceivably should serve these players well as they head into the marathon that is the PGA Tour season.

Richard H. Lee, Bobby Gates -
Along with the aforementioned Compton, Lee and Gates failed to keep their cards as Reshuffle players last year but won them back at Q-School. Lee finished T4, aided by a third-round 64. Gates, meanwhile, finished right on the number, helped by a third-round 67 that included three birdies on his back nine. However, Gates' lower spot on the Reshuffle List will limit his playing opportunities in a shortened season, making it more urgent that he take advantage of the opportunities he does get.

Robert Karlsson -
Some people may do a double take when reading the name but yes, this is the same Robert Karlsson who won the Dubai World Championship on the European Tour in 2010 and played on two Ryder Cup teams in the last decade. But then he came down with an awful case of the driver yips - a problem so bad he had to withdraw from last year's Open Championship. He fought through it and played world-class golf at Q-School, shooting four of six rounds in the 60s and is back on the PGA Tour for 2013.

Kris Blanks -
Blanks failed to keep his card, finishing 161 on the year-end money list. He then proceeded to get it right back for this year after finishing T4 at PGA Tour Qualifying School.

Si Woo Kim -
Kim, 17, made it through Q-School but by rule can't join the PGA Tour until he turns 18. That won't happen until June 28, which causes a major predicament. Until his birthday, he can only enter events via Monday qualifiers or sponsor exemptions. The latter, though, is unlikely because with the reduced number of events this year sponsor exemptions will be geared toward Reshuffle List players. Kim won't be on the Reshuffle List until he turns 18, and once he does he will be at the bottom of the list. His best hope for sponsor exemptions is at tournaments opposite majors and WGC events. If he can play well enough between those events and Monday qualifying, he could qualify for "The Finals," a new four-tournament series that effectively replaces Q-School and will award 25 PGA Tour cards for the following season. If that doesn't work, he'll be headed for the Web.com Tour next season. It's a really tough break for someone who should ordinarily be ecstatic that he's just made it into golf's biggest stage.

Camilo Villegas, Vaughn Taylor, Heath Slocum, Billy Mayfair -
These four PGA Tour notables failed to keep their tour cards last season and then failed to regain them at Q-School. Mayfair, who missed the cut at the final event of the PGA Tour season, finished 87th. Taylor, who last won on the PGA Tour in 2005, missed it by three shots. Slocum, however, had a great chance to regain his card until he hit it in the water on 18 in the final round. That led to a bogey, and the four-time PGA Tour winner failed to retain his guard by two shots. Villegas finished T32 and missed by two. However, his situation is better than the others. He has conditional status on the PGA Tour next year because he finished between 126 and 150 on the final money list (144, to exact). That will help get him several starts to help get his game back on track and, hopefully, for him and his fans, show the form that made him the winner of the Tour Championship in 2008.

Sung Kang -
Kang finished 194th on the money list. He then went to Q-School where he tied for 73rd. By finishing in the top 75 there, he now has full playing privileges for 2013 on the Web.com Tour, where he can try to earn his way back onto the PGA Tour via the new Finals series in August.

Edward Loar -
Loar's double bogey-bogey finish Q-School may be remembered most because Golf Channel's cameras were there to film it all. While he finished -15 after a sixth-round 78 left him two off the number, it's those final two holes that will probably be remembered most. On the island green called "Alcatraz" that is the par-three 17th, his tee shot hit the rocks twice, before ending up in the water. On the final hole, he once again had the dreaded rocks-to-water combination, ending all hopes of retaining his card. Now Loar goes to the Web.com Tour, hoping to erase the memories of Q-School and get himself back to where he belongs.

Cameron Beckman -
Beckman finished 173rd on the final money list of 2012 with just $287,506 in earnings. He then failed to get out of the second stage of Q-School, so he will have to rely on some PGA Tour playing opportunities as a past champion.

Mark Anderson -
Anderson's hopes ended at Q-School when, after he birdied the difficult 17th to get right on the number, he doubled 18. Anderson struggled last year on the PGA Tour with just one top-10 and three top-25s. So maybe a trip back to the Web.com Tour could do both he and his game some good.

Kevin Kisner -
Kisner didn't find a watery grave like so many on the final Monday. Instead it was a birdie putt that just slid by that ended his shot of staying on the PGA Tour for another year. He missed by one.

Roland Thatcher -
Thatcher's $396,801 wasn't good enough to retain his card, as it put him 159th on the final money list. He didn't make it to the final stage of Q-School and must find a new tour this season.

Ryuji Imada -
$238,648 and a 181st position on the money list wasn't good enough to retain his card. Imada was tied for the lead after 36 holes in the season-ending event at Disney, but a 73-72 weekend prevented him from using the winner's circle as his vehicle for keeping his card. He didn't make it to the final stage of Q-School, either, leaving possibly looking toward international opportunities this year.

NOTABLE VETERANS

The competition to lock up one's PGA Tour card for 2013 wasn't just stressful for the Q-School guys. Plenty of veterans were biting their nails as the season concluded in mid-November at the Children's Miracle Network Classic, trying to stay in the Top 125 on the final money list of the year. Here's how some notable names fared.

Bud Cauley -
Cauley qualified for the PGA Tour last year by earning enough money in 2011. Well, Cauley didn't win in 2012, but he played exceptionally for a rookie, making more than $1.7 million and earning a third-place finish and six top-10s, ending the year 44th on the money list and 35th in FedEx Cup points. This season is poised to be a big year for Cauley, who now has a full year's experience of life out on tour, a greater knowledge of the golf courses he'll play and the logistics of making his way around on the PGA Tour. That should pay big dividends toward getting the elusive first win.

J.J. Henry -
Henry's season went from dangerously close to being in trouble to being a great year when he won the Reno-Tahoe Open in August. Now he's exempt for the next two years and can focus on bigger aspirations like trying to gain a spot in 2013's first major, The Masters.

Josh Teater -
Teater finished 98th in earnings with little more than $1 million. Four top-10s over the season's final five months saved his year, including a tie for fourth at the RBC Canadian Open.

Kevin Chappell -
Golf is an individual sport, which has its advantages and disadvantages. One of advantage is that you are in the control of your own destiny; you don't need a teammate to help you succeed. On the flipside, there are the rare occasions when you do lose control of your destiny, and then you have no one to help you. Chappell experienced one at the year's final event. Sitting precariously at the magical No. 125, he had to wait to see what Charlie Wi and Josh Teater did on the 18th hole. Two pars and he keeps his card. One bogey or worse, and Jerry Kelly takes the enviable final position. Both made par, and Chappell has a place to play on the PGA Tour in 2013.

Jerry Kelly -
Kelly did not keep his card the usual way, but he still has a card for 2013. While he finished 126h on the money list, Kelly's Sunday 66 in the season finale landed him in the 25th spot on the career money list, edging Charles Howell III. Players in the top-25 of the career money list can take a one-time exemption, and that's Kelly's plan for keeping his card for 2013.

John Daly -
Daly had a shot to lock up his first PGA Tour win in years in Las Vegas, but instead shot 86-77 on the weekend. He finished last season 146th on the money list. While that gives him conditional status on the PGA Tour for this season, Daly's focus is in Europe, where he's played a fairly substantial amount in recent years. The Top 118 on the final European Tour Order of Merit (the Euro money list) are exempt for the following season, and Daly accomplished that task, finishing 85th. He now has a place to play for 2013 and can focus on getting his game back to where he can contend when he comes to this side of the pond and maybe get his PGA Tour card for the first time in what has to seem, for him at least, like a lifetime.

Hunter Haas -
Haas failed to retain his Tour membership after finishing 158th in earnings. He did not go to Q-school, however, and must find a new tour to play in 2013. That tour would most likely be, for a player in his predicament, the Web.com Tour.

Joe Durant -
Durant finished last season 156th on the money list. He too must figure out what he wants to do for 2013. By not getting into the top 150, Durant does not have conditional status on the PGA Tour for this year, either. Durant will need to play out of the past-champions status, ask for sponsor invitations or go to the Web.com Tour. But in a shortened year, none of those are great options.

Chris DiMarco -
Ditto for DiMarco, as well, who finished 152nd on the money list. To make matters worse, DiMarco never entered Q-School, so that option was not available for the former PGA Tour champion who nearly took down Tiger Woods at the 2005 Masters. Additionally, DiMarco took his one-time exemption for being in the top 50 in career money in 2010, so his only avenue remaining for playing in PGA Tour events this year is to write to sponsors, begging for sponsor invitations. That task becomes harder this year, however, due to the truncated schedule and push to give those valuable slots to Reshuffle List players who will have reduced playing opportunities.

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