Ziemer's B.C. Golf Notes: Macdonald, Ewart and du Toit prepare for Stage 2 of Q-school; Svensson ties for 5th at RSM Classic; PGA Tour Americas Q-school headed to Crown Isle; Shaughnessy stop named top tourney by LPGA Tour

L-R: Stuart Macdonald, AJ Ewart & Jared du Toit - Macdonald/du Toit Courtesy Golf Canada

By Brad Ziemer, British Columbia Golf

He won his most recent qualifying school by 10 shots, but that doesn’t mean Jared du Toit is looking forward to his next one.

Q-school is not something you savour as a pro golfer. It’s all about survival, moving on to the next stage and finding a place to play. All that is on the line is your career. Try draining a five-foot putt for par with those kinds of thoughts racing through your head.

“I don’t care who you are, if you are a PGA TOUR winner or you’re a guy coming out of college, whatever, Q-school is just hard,” du Toit, a Kimberley native, said over the phone from Arizona.

“It’s hard for everybody. It's one of those things where you tee it up, keep your head in it for 72 holes and hope at the end of the week you have done enough to get through.”

Du Toit and fellow British Columbians Stuart Macdonald of Vancouver and A.J. Ewart of Coquitlam all play their second stage of Korn Ferry Tour qualifying school Nov. 28-Dec. 1. Macdonald and du Toit are teeing it up at Valencia Country Club north of Los Angeles, while Ewart will play Stage 2 at Kinderlou Forest Golf Club in Valdosta, Ga.

Kinderlou Forest is a course Ewart knows well. He competed there five times during a brilliant NCAA Division II career with Barry University in south Florida. He’s won there and finished second a couple of times and acknowledges it’s nice having that success in his memory bank as he heads to second stage.

“We played a college tournament there every year and NCAA Regionals once, which is why that was my first choice and I was lucky enough to get it,” Ewart said in a telephone interview from Florida.

While Ewart and du Toit had to get through first stage qualifying to earn their second-stage spots, Macdonald had a pass to second stage thanks to finishing seventh on this year’s PGA Tour Canada points list. Macdonald survived second stage last year and is hoping for a repeat performance next week at Valencia.

His game seems to be in solid shape with two recent wins on the Asher Tour where Macdonald posted identical 20-under totals over 54 holes. “I feel like technically things are pretty sound and my game is where it needs to be,” Macdonald said. “Obviously, there is a mental side to the game that is the difference-maker. Mentally, I have been good, I have been pretty solid. If I am sharp mentally, second stage won’t be a problem.”

Du Toit recently won a first-stage Asian Tour qualifier in California by 10 shots and hopes he can bring that form to Valencia. “I have been playing well this fall,” he said. “It was nice to see a win and play really well. Hopefully, I can bring some of that momentum to the next one. “I have missed at second stage a couple of times now and it’s like I have never shown up in the fall with great form, so hopefully this year can be a little bit of a different story.”

He and Macdonald recently visited Valencia together to get their first look at the golf course. “Stuart and I made an arrangement with a member to go play it the day after Asian Tour Q-school,” du Toit said. “It’s going to be a great test. It’s just a good, hard, pretty fair California-style course, with rolling hills, pretty slopey, poa greens. It’s that time of year where you get that firm dormant grass, so you kind of have to have your wits about you. It’s going to be a great test, I think.”

Just a year out of college, Ewart does not have as much Q-school experience as du Toit and Macdonald. But he has spent the past two months in Florida working on his game and is full of confidence. He is determined to treat second stage like just another tournament. “I try to not worry about everything else that is going on,” he said.

“I just worry about my game and try to stay in my own little world and play my game and stick to a certain game plan. . .I don’t think I have to do anything special. Just keep plodding along and doing what I have been doing. I think my golf is good enough to compete anywhere, so I just want to keep doing that.”

The final stage of Q-school, where the top five and ties will earn PGA TOUR cards, goes Dec. 14-17 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

ASIAN OPTION: Thanks to his runaway win at the first stage of Asian Tour Q-school, du Toit has earned a pass into final stage, which will be played in mid-January in Thailand. One of Macdonald’s recent wins on the Asher Tour has also earned him a spot in the final stage. Both players won’t be going if they get to the final stage of the Korn Ferry Tour Q-school and earn good status on that tour or the PGA TOUR. “I’d really prefer not to go over there,” Macdonald said.

“I’m not sure if I would. Obviously, I would rather go the Korn Ferry route.” Du Toit seems more open to the idea. “If I were to get either full Korn Ferry or full PGA status I would pull the plug on Asia,” du Toit said. “But if I am a conditional guy then I think I would go. The money and opportunities over there are pretty good.”

TOP-FIVE FOR SVENSSON: Surrey’s Adam Svensson put up a spirited defence of his title at the PGA TOUR’s season-ending RSM Classic in Sea Island, Ga. Svensson, who won last year’s tourney by two shots, closed with an eight-under 62 to tie for fifth at 19-under. That was 10 shots behind winner Ludvig Aberg of Sweden, who beat Ontario’s Mackenzie Hughes by four shots. Svensson made $310,800.

SCHOOL DAYS: It has not yet been officially announced, but Crown Isle Golf Resort in Courtenay will play host to a PGA Tour Americas qualifying school for the Canada-U.S. portion of the tour. Jamie Moran, the head pro at Crown Isle, said the Q-school is scheduled for June 11-15. That is the week before the tour’s Canadian swing begins with The Beachlands Victoria Open at Uplands Golf Club in Victoria. Crown Isle will also be playing host to the Canadian Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship next summer.

BEST IN CLASS: This past summer’s CPKC Women’s Open at Shaughnessy Golf & Country Club in Vancouver was named tournament of the year at the LPGA Tour’s annual year-end tournament awards ceremony. It marks the second straight year the event has been named the tour’s top event. “We really have a secret sauce,” tournament director Ryan Paul told The Canadian Press.

“It’s really an incredible golf tournament. You’ve got the best players in the world a rope-line away from you, but outside the ropes there are so many great things that you can see and do. The tournament also won awards for best sponsor activation and best volunteer appreciation.

CHIP SHOTS: Duncan’s Tristan Mandur won a Vancouver Golf Tour winter event at Chilliwack Golf Club . . .Nathan Leonhardt of the Tour Development Academy in Richmond finished 13th and was the top B.C. finisher at the PGA Head Pro Championship of Canada in Cancun, Mexico.