The caddie for Camilo Villegas is off to a good start in his bid to join his boss on the PGA Tour.
Brett Waldman holed a bunker shot for eagle on his first hole and finished with a 3-under 68 at Orange County National on Wednesday in the first of six rounds of PGA Tour Q-School finals. His rollercoaster round included three birdies, a double bogey on the par-4 seventh hole and eagles at the par-5 10th and 18th holes.
2010 PGA TOUR Q-SCHOOL FINALS
The top 25 finishers and ties after Monday's sixth round will earn full playing privileges on the 2011 PGA Tour.
Kyle Stanley had a 7-under 65 on the Crooked Cat course for a two-shot lead over Scott Weatherly, Ben Martin and Stanford graduate Joseph Bramlett.
Waldman has not been in Q-School in eight years, but decided to give it a try this year. He is among nine players in the final stage to have made it through three stages.
Waldman’s rollercoaster round included three birdies, a double bogey on the par-4 seventh hole and eagles at the par-5 10th and 18th holes.
Double heart-transplant recipient Erik Compton stood at 4-under through 11 holes at Panther Lake, but carded bogeys on Nos. 4, 7 and 9 to fall to a 1-under 70. He made seven starts on the PGA Tour in 2010, with a tie for 30th at the Arnold Palmer Invitational his best finish.
Billy Mayfair, making his first appearance at Q-School finals since 1988, carded a bogey-free 2-under 69 at Panther Lake, while Tommy Biershenk turned in a 1-under 71 at Crooked Cat.
Stanley, who played in 26 of 29 events on the 2010 Nationwide Tour, never led after any round. He made 16 cuts and finished No. 35 in earnings. Among his six top-10 finishes was a career-best tie for fourth at the Melwood Prince George’s County Open.
Scott Verplank (1997), Frank Lickliter (2007) and Troy Merritt (2009) are the only players since 1992 to hold or share the lead after each round of the tournament. Verplank is the only player to hold the lead outright for all six rounds.
Four players who earned their PGA Tour card for 2011 by graduating (top 25) from the Nationwide Tour are seeking to improve their position this week: Jim Herman (NWT No. 19, opened with a 1-under 70/PL), Joe Affrunti (NWT No. 22, 3-over 74/PL), Michael Putnam (NWT No. 24, even-par 71/PL) and Justin Hicks (No. 25, 1-over 72/PL). These players will not count toward the top 25 and ties who will earn their PGA Tour card through Q-School, or against the next number nearest 50 to determine fully-exempt Nationwide Tour membership.
Of the 162-man field, Chris Tidland has the most appearances at final stage since 1990, with 12 starts. He opened on Wednesday with a 3-over 74 at Panther Lake.
A total of 53 players are making their first appearance at Q-School finals. Of that group, four are among the top six players after the first round: Stanley (first), Martin (tied for second), Bramlett (tied for second) and Brett Swedberg (tied for fifth).
The first-round scoring averages for the two courses were 72.650 at Crooked Cat and 72.390 at Panther Lake. The toughest holes on the two courses were the par-4 No. 18 on Crooked Cat with a scoring average of 4.288 and the par-4 No. 7 on Panther Lake with a scoring average of 4.415. There were two bogey-free rounds during the first round.
Four players withdrew prior to the start of play: Keegan Bradley, David Hearn, Alistair Presnell and Peter Tomasulo. Bradley (No. 14), Hearn (No. 21) and Tomasulo (No. 23) all earned 2011 PGA Tour cards by finishing in the top 25 on the 2010 Nationwide Tour money list. Presnell ended the year No. 37 on the Nationwide Tour money list.
The top 25 players at the end of the sixth round on Monday will earn PGA Tour cards for 2011. The next 50 are exempt on the Nationwide Tour.