Through five rounds of the PGA Tour’s Q-School, Kevin Kisner was among the top 25 players in the field looking to qualify to play on professional golf’s top tour in 2013. He was tied for 17th place and on the verge of returning to the PGA Tour for a third consecutive year.
Kisner’s bubble burst Monday, when the South Aiken and University of Georgia product slipped just outside of the threshold, finishing in a tie for 27th. That means Kisner will likely be on the Web.com Tour next year rather than the PGA.
Kisner’s even-par 72 in Monday’s final round of the event, played in La Quinta, Calif., brought his six-round total to 16-under. That was one stroke shy of joining a five-way tie for 22nd, which would’ve been good enough for Kisner (71-75-66-65-67-72–416) to keep his PGA Tour card.
Following his round on the Stadium Course at PGA West, Kisner was nine strokes behind the event’s first-place finisher, Dong-hwan Lee. But the biggest number for Kisner was the one shot that left him tied for 27th. After three consecutive rounds in the 60s, Monday was erratic for Kisner. He had an up-and-down front nine and a rock-steady showing on the backside.
Kisner had three birdies and three bogies – all on the front nine. He made birdie on three separate occasions to move 1-under, only to immediately follow with a bogey that left him at even-par through the front nine. He never gained or lost any ground on the back nine, making par on every hole.
Through 108 holes of golf over the grueling six-day event, Kisner carded 30 birdies to just eight bogies and three double bogies – with none coming after Friday. His best round was Saturday’s fourth, when he had seven birdies and not a single bogey.
While Kisner fell just short of the ultimate goal, he wasn’t the only golfer with area connections to miss qualifying for the PGA. Aiken resident and Clemson product Stephen Poole shot 71 to finish the event at 5-under. Playing his final round on the Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course, Poole (72-77-72-67-68-71–427) wound up in a tie for 114th place after a day that included seven birdies, four bogies and a double bogey.
Scott Brown spent 2012 playing on the PGA Tour, and was exempted into the final stage by finishing in the top 150 on the money list. The North Augusta and USC Aiken product couldn’t capitalize and never overcame a slow start. For the third day in a row, Brown (78-76-73-70-70-70–437) shot 2-under – with six birdies and four bogies – to move to 5-over for the event. His sixth round was also on the Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course.
This was the final Q-School where players could go straight to the PGA Tour. Lee, of South Korea, birdied his last three holes for a final-round 67 to win Q-School at 25-under, giving him the highest priority ranking for next year and a $50,000 check. Ross Fisher, a former Ryder Cup player, and Steve LeBrun were one stroke behind Lee; while Richard H. Lee, Kris Blanks and Billy Horschel were another shot back in a three-way tie for fourth. Other notables to make the cut include Erik Compton and Robert Karlsson as well as former Augusta State golfers Patrick Reed and Henrik Norlander.
One notable who didn’t make the cut was Evans’ Vaughn Taylor. The former Masters Tournament participant was tied with Kisner at 17th heading into the final round but his 74 left him at 14-under and tied for 43rd.
Noah Feit is the sports editor for the Aiken Standard and has been a professional journalist for more than a dozen years after graduating from Syracuse University.