DAYTON - The grueling quest for a PGA Tour card begins for 79 hopefuls at Dayton Valley Golf Club for an unprecedented 18th consecutive year next week.
The four-day tournament starts Tuesday, and weather permitting, will end on Friday. Tee times are at 9 a.m. each day.
Dayton first hosted the 72-hole Q-school tournament in 1995, and the 2012 event continues the longest consecutive streak of hosting a PGA Tour qualifying event for any course in the nation.
However, this will be the last time the tournament will be known as a Stage One Qualifying event. The PGA Tour has changed the qualifying process with the Web.com Tour becoming the primary avenue to PGA Tour membership beginning in the fall of 2013.
A number of players in the field have local ties including former Nevada Wolf Pack golfers Jared Becher, Darren Fletcher , Kevin Lucas and Scott Smith. Former Galena High and UNLV star Travis Whisman also is entered. Whisman last played in the Dayton qualifier in 2006 when he shot 11-under par 277 to advance to Stage Two. He had to go through the Pre-qualifying Stage this year to get into the Dayton field.
The PGA Tour qualifying process in this format has been known as the "toughest tournament in golf" because of the rigorous three month grind where every shot counts and less than two per cent of the entrants achieve the ultimate goal of a PGA Tour card for the following season.
This year's Q-school process began at eight Pre-Qualifying sites in September and 315 players from a total field of 619 players qualified for 2012 Stage One tournaments.
An undetermined number of players will advance to Stage Two qualifying from the Dayton tournament (in 2011 the number was the low 22 scores and ties with exactly 22 players advancing to Stage Two). The exact number to advance will be announced prior to the start of the first round. Those players with qualifying low scores and ties set by the PGA Tour will advance to 72-hole Stage Two qualifying tournaments at six sites on Nov. 13-17.
The final qualifier will be contested over 108-holes from Nov. 28 to Dec. 3 at PGA West Nicklaus Tournament Course and TPC Stadium Course in La Quinta, Calif. The low scores and ties will earn PGA Tour playing privileges (exact number yet to be determined but likely to be 25 and ties, in 2011, 27 players earned PGA Tour cards). All players reaching the finals earn exempt or non-exempt playing status on the 2013 Web.com Tour.
Last year Richard T. Lee of Chandler, Ariz. was the low qualifier at Dayton with a 14-under par, 274 total. Twenty-two players advanced to the second stage from the field of 76 with a five-way tie for the 18th and final spot at 7-under par.
Three of the 22 who advanced - Lee, Ryan Yip of Indio, Calif. and Benoit Bessier of Scottsdale, Ariz., made it to the Q-school finals and none of them earned a PGA Tour card. However, Yip, a Canadian who was the low qualifier at Dayton in 2009, missed getting a tour card by just one stroke and tied for the top spot on the then Nationwide Tour.
Lee, Yip and Bessier are also in the 2012 Dayton field that includes a total of 24 players from the 2011 field. An additional 13 players have gone through Dayton Q-school in prior years for a total of 37 players with previous Dayton experience. Twenty-two players made it through 2012 Pre-qualifying tournaments to earn a spot in the Dayton field.
Other players of note who have played and advanced from the Dayton field in prior years to play on the PGA Tour include Gary Woodland, Rod Pampling, Charlie Wi, Jeff Overton, Charley Hoffman, Parker McLachlin, Chez Reavie, Bob May, Bryce Molder, Bill Lunde, Scott Piercy, Matt Bettencourt, Spencer Levin, Wil Collins, Troy Merritt, Graham DeLaet, Steve Allan, Notah Begay, and Casey Martin.
For more information about PGA Tour Q-School including the 2012 Dayton Valley Golf Club qualifying tournament and the other sites visit the PGA Tour web site with this link: http://www.pgatour.com/qschool/index.html.