Smith returns to Dayton qualifier

A field of 76 players will began play Tuesday in the Stage One Tour Qualifying at Dayton Valley Golf Club.

The 72-hole tournament runs through Friday.

The strong field includes former Nevada Wolf Pack golfer Scott Smith of Fallon and Trent Virden of Reno.

Smith, who starred for the Nevada Wolf Pack golf team, finished in 22nd place in last year’s qualifier at Dayton to advance to Second Stage Qualifying. This will be his third time through Dayton, having also played in the 2012 Dayton PGA Tour qualifier when he shot even par to miss the qualifying cut by five strokes.

He made his professional debut in 2011 and received an exemption into the Reno-Tahoe Open where he missed the cut. He had a breakout year in 2012 by qualifying for the U.S Open at Olympic Club in San Francisco where he failed to make the cut. He received another exemption into the 2012 RTO and made it pay off by making his first cut as a pro and finished in 70th place earning $6,000.

Virden is a 2010 McQueen High graduate who starred in football and also played on the golf team. He chose to pursue a career in professional golf and has been playing regional pro events. He finished in a tie for 25th at 1-over par in the Pre-qualifying tournament at Yolo Fliers Club in Woodland, Calif. Sept. 3-5 to get into the Dayton field.

Also entered are Scott Gordon from Fair Oaks, Calif., who played the PGA Tour in 2011. 2012 Dayton PGA Tour Q-school low qualifier Dusty Fielding of Washington, Utah and 2009 PGA Tour player Wil Collins of Albuquerque, N.M., playing in his 11th Dayton Q-school.

This is the second time the Arnold Palmer–designed course has hosted Tour qualifying but the 20th consecutive year the course has held a PGA Tour qualifying event, the longest streak for any course in the country.

The Tour is now the primary avenue to PGA Tour membership concluding with the recently completed Tour Championship that was the last of four Tour Finals Series. Fifty new PGA Tour membership cards were awarded through those events.

Among those earning a 2014-2015 PGA Tour Card were two players from the 2013 First Stage Q-school at Dayton Valley. Zac Blair, St. George, Utah and Tony Finau, Lehi, Utah finished 11th and 12th in the Priority Rankings respectively for the 50 new PGA Tour Members. They both started the long journey to the Tour by advancing from the First Stage Qualifier at Dayton Valley.

The 2014 Q-school began with Pre-qualifying tournaments at six sites in September. A total of 259 players qualified for the first stage from a total field of 424 players. The entire qualifying process includes the pre-qualifying tournaments and three stages of qualifying tournaments to determine the final number of new members on the Tour.

The Arnold Palmer-designed Dayton Valley course is one of 12 sites across the country hosting First Stage qualifying tournaments in October. It is estimated that the low 33 to 35 qualifying scores and ties at Dayton advance to Second Stage qualifying that will be played at six sites in November.

The 6-round, 108-hole Final Stage will be played Dec. 11-Dec. 16 at PGA National, Fazio and Champion courses, in Palm Beach Garden, Fla.


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