Danny Lee is bound for US PGA Tour qualifying school unless he can pull some golfing heroics out of his bag during the next three days.
Lee made a poor start to the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals Classic at Lake Buena Vista, Florida, today, carding a birdie-less two-over par 74 in the opening round to lie in a share of 96th, 10 shots off the lead.
The New Zealand No 1 entered the tournament in 164th position on the PGA Tour money list with earnings of US$359,112 and probably requiring a top-three finish to earn enough money to bolt into the top 125, who will have full tour cards for 2013.
A top-10 finish in the 128-strong field might be good enough to sneak into the top 150 overall, which would see him earn conditional status next year, but even that is a long way off after today.
At this rate, the 22-year-old will finish outside the top 150 and have to successfully progress through the final two stages of qualifying school to remain on the world's premier tour next year.
South Korean Charlie Wi leads the field following an eight-under par 64.
This is the 184th career start for Wi on the PGA Tour and he's still looking for his first win.
Wi atop the leaderboard was a reminder that there's more at stake in the final PGA Tour event of the year than players trying to keep their jobs. Each event is another opportunity for him to get his first win, and that's would it take for him to have a chance of getting into the top 30 on the money list to earn his first trip to the Masters.
"Top 30 is definitely a goal," Wi said. "I'm not just showing up to play. You've got to have goals. I at least want to give myself a chance."
- Fairfax NZ and Reuters
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