A former World No. 1. A US Open Champ. A British Open champ. A PGA Champ. A Ryder Cupper. A Presidents Cupper. What do they have in common? They’re all in the PGA Tour Q-School this year.
And they aren’t exempt into the final round. They have to play second stage to get to the finals. Once there, they have to beat numerous talented newcomers as well as other PGA Tour winners to either improve their position in the pecking order for next year’s tournaments or to win a PGA Tour card outright for the 2012 season.
David Duval, who won the British Open and The Players, and dethroned Tiger Woods as World No. 1. But that was 10 years ago. In golf, it’s "What have you done lately?" Duval, like fellow British Open champ Todd Hamilton, is back at Q-School.
Also trying to get playing status back or improved status over their finishes on the money list are PGA Champs Shaun Micheel and Rich Beem.
Former Ryder Cuppers Boo Weekley and Chris Riley and Presidents Cup “Aquaman” Woody Austin are also signed up. Austin got the nickname when he fell into a hazard after taking a shot during the Presidents Cup. He showed up the next day with a swim mask.
There are plenty of tournament winners in this year’s Q- School, too.
PGA Tour winners abound in this year’s Q-School drama: Jeff Maggert, Frank Lickliter III, Len Mattiace, Robert Gamez, Robert Damron, Joe Durant, Ted Purdy, Nolan Henke, Blaine McAllislter, Paul Stankowski, Duffy Waldorf, Notah Begay, Ted Tryba, Ted Purdy, Will Mackenzie. And that’s just the tip of the talent iceberg.
But perhaps the story of all stories is that the legendary Mac O'Grady, who has already been to 17 PGA Tour Q Schools, is back for his 18th attempt. O’Grady won twice on the PGA Tour, including the MONY Tournament of Champions in 1987.
Considered an intellectual, just a little bit quirky and outside the mainstream, O’Grady always marched to a slightly different beat. He has played both right-handed and left-handed (as an amateur). O’Grady once had a six-event suspension placed on him by former PGA Tour commissioner Deane Beman for conduct unbecoming a professional.
Some of the more familiar names in this year's Q-School: