Aussies fight for US PGA Tour futures
Rod Pampling is sharpening his mental game amid a field of desperate golfers making last stands to retain their US PGA Tour cards for next season.
The 43-year-old Queenslander is right on the brink going into Thursday's (local time) first round of the final tournament, the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals Classic, in the unlikely surrounds of Disneyworld in Florida.
He sits at 124th on the official money list with only the top 125 after Sunday keeping full cards.
Positions 126-150 get conditional membership and entry to the final stage of qualifying school where full cards are again up for grabs.
Those outside 150 must fight for their golfing futures from the second stage of Q-School and if they fail, fall back to the secondary web.com tour.
Pampling has been here before. He started this tournament in 119th last year and missed the cut, leaving him with a nervous wait over the weekend.
The Disney magic fell his way, eventually finishing 124th on the list just $US2,000 ($2,417) inside the mark.
This time he is $US3,597 ($4,347) in front of position 126, and far from comfortable.
"On the bubble is not a great place to be but I'd rather be on the good side so that's something," Pampling said.
"But I just have to deal with it and look after myself because you can control less in this game then any other sport when it comes to your competitors.
"I've been here before, I know what I've got to do. If I play my best then hopefully the chips will fall for me."
Pampling has picked up just the one top 10 finish all season, a tie for eighth way back in January at Torrey Pines.
But he can take some comfort from having made his last six cuts, the first hurdle he needs to clear.
"My focus hasn't been as sharp as it needs to be so that's been my priority this week," Pampling said.
"I know the ball striking and the game is all there so it has allowed me to work on my head.
"I have spent and will spend more time making sure my process and precision and mental game are all at their peak."
Robert Allenby is the highest-ranked Australian in the field but at 108th on the money list he is already assured a place in 2013.
This leaves Nick O'Hern (147th) as the next best hope for a reprieve.
The tough news for O'Hern is he is $US146,632 ($177,228) behind spot 125 and the purse is smaller than regular weeks on tour, leaving him likely needing a top three finish.
Of course a win would give any player an automatic two-year exemption, something the likes of countrymen Stuart Appleby (162), Nathan Green (165), Mathew Goggin (176), Matt Jones (177), Gavin Coles (179) and Steven Bowditch (184) would all desperately love.
Appleby, a nine-time tour winner and regular since 1996, can call on a one-time exemption for lifetime earnings to return to the tour if he fails in his bid.
Green would maintain 'past champion' status in a worse case scenario for 2013 thanks to his 2009 Canadian Open win although it is the lowest qualification rank for tournaments and allows just a handful of starts.
Adam Scott, Jason Day, Geoff Ogilvy, Aaron Baddeley, John Senden, Marc Leishman, Allenby and Greg Chalmers are fully qualified for the 2013 tour, as are newly promoted Cameron Percy, Scott Gardiner and Alistair Presnell from the secondary web.com tour.