Dayton becoming the place to be for qualifiers

Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal

Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal

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DAYTON - The golfers descend on Dayton Valley Golf & Country Club every October for a week. They come in all shapes and sizes and from different parts of the world.

Some are here for the first time, while for others it has become a yearly journey as they chase their dream to earn their PGA Tour cards.

Fourteen states, Canada and Australia are represented in this year's Stage I Qualifying Tournament. Nearly half of the field (32 of 68) represents California and Arizona.

Chris Kamin (10 years), Ben Portie ( 8 years) and James Drew (8 years) are the elder statesmen in the field in terms of their experience at Dayton, and they share their love for the 7,218-yard layout.

Drew, who is tied for first after he shot a second-round 64 Thursday, which included a triple-bogey on his last hole, said he wouldn't play anywhere else.

"I know the greens are going to be near perfect," said Drew, who lives in Las Vegas and plays on three different tours. "Also, I don't want to have to go somewhere where I have to adjust how far the ball is going to go."

Drew said additional costs besides the $4,500 entry fee have no bearing on his decision.

"It's 100 percent the golf course," Drew said.

Kamin agreed. He went on to point out there is a certain level of comfort that golfers have with a course once they've had success.

Kamin first came to Dayton in 1997, and then for the next few years played Stage I events in Arizona (twice) and Monterey. He came back to Dayton in 2001 and finished fifth, and he's played here ever since.

"I've had success here, and it's easy to get to," Kamin said after a second-round 66. "The flight from Phoenix is only 90 minutes and you walk across the street 50 feet to get you car and you're on Highway 395 in a few minutes. You know where you are going to eat dinner at night.

"You get to a certain point you know where the pins are going to be. You know what clubs to hit on all the holes. You reach a certain comfort level."

What keeps Kamin coming back year after year, especially when he can make a decent living playing the Gateway Tour in Arizona is competitive fire. He wants to play against the elite in his sport.

"I still think I can get better," Kamin said. "I've competed against some of the guys on the PGA Tour now and beaten them."

Portie has come here eight straight years, and he likes Dayton because the course is similar to ones he plays in Colorado.

"The greens are similar," Portie said. "I didn't want to go to a place that has Bermuda (grass). This course always is in great shape. I've gotten through to the second stage four times."

Clayton Rask graduated from the University of Minnesota two years ago. He said Dayton was sixth on his list last year when he sent in his application four days prior to the early registration date. He currently plays on the Canadian Tour.

He ended up with Dayton and said he won't ever go anywhere else for Stage I qualifying. Rask has become Dayton's "adoptive son." He drives 26 hours to get here and lives out of a pop-up tent hooked up to his pick-up truck in the corner of the Dayton Valley Country Club parking lot. Several Dayton regulars walk the course with him daily.

"I'd never heard of this place (two years ago)," said Rask. "I came out 11 days early last year and I spent every day on the course. I got real comfortable with it. I like it here. When the list came out this year, I sent my entry form in the next day."

Andrew Dodt is one of a handful of foreign players in the field. The Aussie is in a three-way tie for the lead at 132 after 36 holes. This is his first visit to Dayton, and if he has to go to Stage I again, it probably won't be his last.

It's also convenient for Dodt to be in Nevada this week, because he is playing in the Singapore Open next week, thus saving on airfare because he can fly out of San Francisco.

"It's pleasing to the eye," Dodt said. "I played a Stage I qualifier in Alabama, but didn't really like the course all that much. I looked up this course on the Internet and it looked nice. I didn't know the weather would be like this."



• The low round of the day was shared by James Drew and Benjamin Alvarado, both of whom shot 64s. Drew's was especially impressive because he birdied 11 of the first 17 holes before taking a triple-bogey 7 on No. 9 when he hit his tee shot in the water.

• A total of 60 of the 68 golfers are at par or better after 36 holes. Fifty-four golfers. The projected cut, which is the top 22 players and tie, is currently at 6-under par. Thirty players are at 140 or lower.

• Tee times start at 9 a.m. today with players going off both Nos. 1 and 10. The leaders will tee off around 11 a.m.



Andrew Dodt 65-67--132 -12

Derek Berg 67-65--132 -12

James Drew 68-64--132 -12

Seung-su Han 68-66--134 -10

Jeff Rangel 66-68--134 -10

Ted Oh 65-70--135 -9

Kane Hanson 70-65--135 -9

Benoit Beisser 70-65--135 -9

Chris Kamin 70-66--136 -8

Garrett Sapp 71-65--136 -8

Tommy Barber 65-71--136 -8

Clayton Rask 69-67--136 -8

Brett Swedberg 68-68--136 -8

Jeremy Anderson 67-69--136 -8

Chris Heintz 67-69--136 -8


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