Qualifier again at Dayton
October 6, 2004
A network’s commercial for one of the major golf tournaments it was televising used to contain the phrase: “A tradition like none other.”
Maybe it’s a bit of an overstatement, but the Dayton Valley Golf Club can boast about “a tradition like none other” when it comes to the first stage of PGA Tour qualifying. For the 10th straight year, Dayton will host the first stage of PGA qualifying this month. No other course in the country can currently claim a streak that long of hosting a PGA qualifying event.
“That’s kind of cool,” Dayton general manager Jim Kepler said. “We’re pretty excited about it.”
Practice for the qualifyer will be held on Sunday, Oct. 17 and Monday, Oct. 18 with the four-day, 72-hole event to run from Tuesday, Oct. 19 through Friday, Oct. 22. Tee times each day will be between 9 and 10 a.m. depending on weather conditions. The public is invited free of charge.
There are 87 entrants in this year’s Dayton event, which begins the process of qualifying for the PGA Tour, arguably the most difficult task in sports.
“It’s almost impossible,” said Kepler about qualifying for the PGA Tour. “The odds are extremely, extremely tough.”
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But 13 players have advanced from Dayton all the way to earning their full-time card on the PGA Tour since the local course began hosting the event.
Among the players in this year’s event will be Carson High graduate T.J. Duncan, a former standout at the University of Nevada and Oregon. Duncan will make his second trip to Dayton after he missed moving onto the second stage by one stroke last year. It’s expect that there will be about 25 qualifying spots from this year’s event to the second stage.
Second stage qualifying tournaments will be held at two sites Nov. 10-13 and four sites Nov. 17-20. The 108-hole finals in which golfers will play for the right to be on the PGA Tour will be played Dec. 1-6 at the PGA West Stadium Course and Nicklaus Tournament Course in La Quinta, Calif.
Other former University of Nevada golfers in the field this year include Brett Bingham, Carlos Concha, Mike Haack and Ian Hagan. Former UNLV star Jeremy Anderson and former Nevada state prep champion Billy Harvey of Las Vegas are also entered.
A score of 8-under-par was needed last year to advance to the second stage. With the scores dropping each year, the Dayton course will be made more difficult this year as more rough has been added.
That means players will have to keep the ball on the fairway to be successful. “They want the better players to get through,” Kepler said.
But one reason why Dayton continues to be chosen for the PGA qualifier is because it’s known as a shot makers course that’s a fair test for players. “You have to think your way around,” Kepler said.
Weather conditions also have a great deal to do with how low the scores are and last year’s pristine weather contributed to the low scores. Kepler said with the more difficult conditions, he thought a score in the range of 3-under to 5-under would be good enough this year to move on to the second stage.
It’s not surprising that Carson High graduate Darrell Rasner approved of the Montreal Expos move to the Washington, D.C. area, beginning next season. Rasner, a 1999 Carson High graduate and University of Nevada standout, was drafted by the Expos in the second round in 2002.
“I think it’s good,” Rasner said. “It’s good that they finally have ownership. I think they will start going in the right direction. It will turn things around for the team.
“For me it doesn’t really matter. I just hope to get the opportunity to pitch in the big leagues.”
Among the other cities in the running to land the Expos were Las Vegas and Portland. Rasner admitted it would have been nice if the Expos moved to one of those cities, which would have been closer to home.
“That would be more for the family and friends and everything,” he said. “That wasn’t really a concern for me.”
For now, the Expos will play at RFK Stadium until a new stadium can be built. If Rasner continues to excel the way he did in the second half of this past season, he should also be pitching at RFK Stadium in the near future.
Rasner started the year at Class A Brevard County, Fla., where he went 6-5 with a 3.14 earned run average. He was particularly impressive in the second half of the year.
At the end of the season, he was promoted to Double A Harrisburg, Pa., where he was even more impressive, going 1-1 with a 1.21 E.R.A. in five starts.
“I was pretty dominant,” Rasner said. “I changed a few things with my mechanics. I just became more aggressive.”
The Expos have a major decision to make with Rasner. Because of the rules the way they are, the Expos must place Rasner on their 40-man roster to protect him or risk losing him to another team. That means Rasner has an excellent chance to be invited to be with the Expos in spring training.
“They haven’t really said,” said Rasner about if he’ll be with the Expos in spring training. “I know I do have a chance of going.
“Hopefully I will. If I do, I look forward to it. They have to protect me this year. I think I have a good chance of being put on the 40-man roster, but we’ll see.”
Charles Whisnand is the Nevada Appeal Sports Editor. Contact him at email@example.com or 881-1214.