Wilkinson heads to Q-school for PGA card

FRED WOODCOCK
Last updated 13:08 29/10/2012

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New Zealand golfer Tim Wilkinson has to fight his way through two stages of qualifying school if he wants to make a return to the PGA Tour next year.

The 34-year-old has finished tied for 53rd in the 60-strong field at the web.com Tour's Tour Championship in Texas, the final event of the US second-tier tour's season.

Wilkinson required a top-five finish this week to force his way into the top-25 on the money list and guarantee a playing card on the PGA Tour next year but he didn't get close, rounds of 70, 74, 74 and 70 seeing him finish near the foot of the field at four-over par. American Justin Bolli won the tournament by two shots, at 16-under par.

Wilkinson, who started the week 56th in the rankings, could have gone straight through to the final stage of PGA Tour q-school had he finished between 26th and 40th in the order of merit, but he ended in 57th position with season earnings of $US100,862 ($NZ122,000).

That means the United States-based left-hander will have to play in one of six second stage Q-school events next month, do enough to progress to the final stage, then finish that 156-strong tournament in the top-25 if he wants to claim a PGA Tour card.

He has been successful at this before, however, having fought his way onto the PGA Tour in 2008 after going through the rigorous Q-school process in 2007.

He did enough to retain his card for the next year but a thumb injury in 2009 curtailed his form. After using his medical extension in the first part of 2010, he did not win enough money to retain his status and hasn't featured on the world's top tour since.

Elsewhere, Michael Campbell wasn't in contention but he strung together four sub-par rounds for the second tournament in succession on the European Tour.

Campbell, who was third at the Portugal Masters two weeks ago, closed with a three-under par 69 to finish tied for 30th at the BMW Masters in Shanghai last night.

Campbell had rounds of 71, 71, 70 and 69 at the Lake Malaren Golf Club to finish the week at seven-under par, continuing his upward curve.

Sweden's Peter Hanson fired a five-under 67 to finish at 21-under par and win by a shot from world No 1 and European Ryder Cup teammate Rory McIlroy, who also closed with a 67.

Campbell won 45,776 euro ($NZ72,000) for his efforts and climbs five spots to 80th on the order of merit. There are four tournaments remaining before the top 60 players in the 'Race to Dubai' standings line up at the $US8 million season-ending Dubai World Championship.

Campbell's next tournament will be the Singapore Open in two weeks' time.

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Closer to home, Michael Long and Pieter Zwart were the best of the New Zealanders at the PGA Tour of Australasia's WA Open at the Royal Perth Golf Course.

Long closed with a two-under par 70 while Zwart finished with a one-under 71 as both players ended the week at eight-under 280, good enough for a share of 16th. Runaway order of merit leader Michael Hendry missed the cut. Australian Oliver Goss beat fellow amateur Brady Watt in a playoff after both players finished at 16-under.

* Danny Lee's final PGA Tour event of the year, the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals Classic at Lake Buena Vista, Florida, starts on November 8.

Lee will need to big finish to retain his card for 2013 and avoid a trip to Q-school.

- Fairfax Media

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