Former Big Ten golfers attempt to make PGA Tour through Q-School


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Qualifying School, the three-month process that gives amateur golfers entrance into the PGA Tour, has been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for many amateurs since 1965.

Former Hawkeye Brad Hopfinger and former Minnesota golfer Donald Constable are attempting to make the pro circuit. They began the second stage of the three-month long qualifying process Wednesday.

“It’s a little different from other tournaments,” Constable said. “But you have to treat it like any other tournament. It’s a long process.”

He sits in 54th place with a score of 1-over, while Hopfinger is tied for 34th place after a first-round score of even par.

Four different stages make up Q-School, including the pre-qualifying stage that take place in numerous events in many different states. A set number of golfers from each event advance to the next stage and ultimately to the PGA Tour.

Constable finished in second place with a score of 13-under in the first stage event at the Classic Club in Palm Desert, Calif., from Oct. 16-19. Hopfinger finished tied for eighth place with a score of 10-under in the same event.

The highlight of the stage for Hopfinger was a first-round 66, tied for the second best round of the event.

“I got off to a fast start in the first round with a 6-under,” Hopfinger said. “From there, it was just about playing smart. It’s easier to finish in the top-20 when you play smart.”

Hopfinger competed in Q-School last year but didn”t advance past the first round.

One aspect of his game that he said has helped him this year was his putting.

“Putting is always important,” he said. “You can get away with a few bad shots, but you can’t get away from bad putting.”

Hopfinger and Constable hope to take advantage of the opportunity to make the PGA Tour this year, because next year the rules will change. After this season, Q-School will no longer be the ticket athletes need to earn their pro card.

In the fall of 2013, placing high enough in Q-School will only allow players to compete in the Minor Web.com Tour. This means next year, golfers will have a more difficult road if they wish to reach the PGA.

To qualify for the top tour, golfers will have to place in the top 25 of the entire Web.com Tour season or in the year’s final three tournaments. The final trio of regular-season tournaments will feature the top 75 players on the Web.com Tour money-list, alongside the players finishing between 126-200 in the FedEx Cup points list.

These changes will affect the path taken by young golfers hoping to make it to the pros. Iowa golfer Joseph Winslow said he is adjusting his plans for after college.

“I would have liked to do Q-School right out of college, but now I have to re-evaluate things,” the sophomore said. “The reason they’re doing it is to get guys some experience in the Web.com Tour before jumping right in to the PGA Tour.”

All three golfers agreed that regardless of the path needed to take to get to the next level, they are willing to do whatever it takes. Winslow sees the future task as less of a challenge and more of a chance to achieve a life-long goal.

“It’s really exciting,” he said. “Guys are going to the next stage of their careers. It’s something every golfer dreams about for years.”

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