Q-School Delivers On Drama, Captivating Storylines In First Year Back

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Just over a month after losing his 3-year-old daughter to a genetic disorder, Hayden Springer held steady down the closing hole Monday and earned one of five PGA Tour cards at the tour’s first Q-school in 11 years.

Springer closed with a 1-under 69 on the rain-soaked Dye Valley course at TPC Sawgrass, advancing to the PGA Tour for the first time with two shots to spare.

Harrison Endycott of Australia had no such drama with his golf, building a comfortable lead and posting a 67 to finish as medalist, which paid $50,000. Far more valuable was a spot on the PGA Tour next year. Also earning cards were Trace Crowe, Blaine Hale Jr., Raul Pereda of Mexico and Springer.

Everyone who reached the final stage was assured some level of status on the Korn Ferry Tour. Springer leaned on having full status from winning the Canadian tour points title this year.

His story first came to light when he qualified for the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines two years ago. Springer and his wife, Emma, learned their daughter had Trisomy 18 — also known as Edwards Syndrome — in which babies are born with three copies of chromosome 18 instead of two. Such infants typically don’t make it 72 hours. Sage was 3 when she died on Nov. 13.

“I definitely came in this week trying to make sure that I was gonna have enough of an emotional capacity to play and to be ready,” Springer told Golf Channel. “Because it’s definitely been a tough last month and emotional last month.”

The Springers also have a 1-year-old daughter, Annie.

Springer looked to have a card locked up until making bogeys at the 12th and 13th. He bounced back with a birdie on the par-3 14th. But then he failed to birdie the par-5 16th, and he pulled his tee shot into the water on the tough par-4 17th.

He did well to get the ball around the green, but it was in a bunker to the left, and the pin was on the left. A double bogey would leave him right on the cut line with the third-toughest hole on the course, No. 18, still to play.

But he blasted out to 4 feet and escaped with bogey. On the 18th, he safely reached the green and two-putted for his par.

The PGA Tour brought back Q-school for the first time since 2012. It had gone away from the meritocratic system when it switched to a wraparound season in 2013, and the only direct path to the big leagues was through the Korn Ferry Tour.

The Korn Ferry Tour still offers more opportunities. Springer got one of the five cards.

Endycott ends the year feeling like a winner, just one month after he finished out of the top 125 in the FedEx Cup as a rookie and faced conditional status. He played brilliantly to be medalist at Q-school. The final round was postponed one day by 4 inches of rain, and not even the extra day slowed the Australian.