A golf tournament inevitably reduces to names and numbers. The PGA
Tour Qualifying Tournament, held last week at the PGA West resort
in La Quinta, Calif., had 163 golfers playing six rounds on two
courses in hopes of winning one of 35 available berths on the
2003 Tour. (The rest of the players would be relegated to the
Nationwide tour.) By Monday evening, when medalist Jeff Brehaut
pocketed $50,000 for his six-round total of 16-under-par 416, you
had to have the powers of Kreskin to glimpse the real human
beings behind the blizzard of agate type. What follows,
therefore, is a fleeting look behind those dry tabulations.
2003 Status: Nationwide tour
Broadaway, the cross-handed golfer from Albany, Ga., isn't really
ambidextrous. "He's amphibious," deadpans his father, Tommy.
Whatever you call it, Broadaway, 24, is an anomaly. He writes,
eats and fires a rifle righthanded, but he swings a baseball bat
from the left side. He swings a golf club from the right side but
putts lefty. In high school he was a lefthanded second baseman.
"Everybody would snicker," says his mother, Sylvia, "until he
turned a double play."
December 16, 2002
These days the snickering begins when Broadaway takes a toddler's
grip on a club, and it ends when he rips an iron 220 yards over
water to a tucked pin. Coming off a successful year on the
Hooters tour, the former Troy (Ala.) State golfer turned lots of
heads at Q school. "I just saw the cross-handed guy," said one
PGA Tour veteran. "He's unbelievable."
Not to mention intractable. Broadaway's maternal grandfather,
Bill Tanner, tried to get little boy Josh to hold the club
conventionally, but the kid gripped lefty and swung righty.
(Josh's father, a second-generation homebuilder, says, "I wasn't
going to buy a three-year-old a set of lefthanded golf clubs.")
Years later Josh's coach at Troy State thought the unorthodox
grip placed too much stress on the wrists, but he, too, let Josh
have his way. Charlie Owens, the African-American pro who won two
Senior tour events playing cross-handed, says, "I've seen the kid
on TV, and he has a beautiful swing."
Broadaway is a bright-eyed youngster with blond bangs, and at PGA
West he cheerfully answered every question about his grip. But he
conceded that repetition sometimes makes his spiel sound
rehearsed, saying, "I usually go with, 'I've been doing it since
I was five, and it feels natural to me.'" As for the so-called
hyper-pressure of Q school, Broadaway dismissed it with a grin.
"You can shoot a hundred here, and you've still got a place to
play next year. I'm just freewheeling."
2003 Status: PGA Tour (Conditional)
When Chamblee made a double bogey on his second hole of the first
round, he tried to cheer himself up with this comforting thought:
Only 106 holes left. "They should call it purgatory, not Tour
school," he said later, speaking for all 72 of the PGA Tour
veterans in the field.
For Chamblee, who turned 40 in July, the entire year has felt
like a wait in Satan's anteroom with nothing to read but back
issues of Rosie. He opened 2002 with a 63 on his way to a
sixth-place tie at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic. After that, his
game slid south. In 30 events he missed 17 cuts and cracked the
top 25 only five times. By season's end, he had dropped to 146th
on the money list and lost his exempt status.
"I've managed to keep my sanity," Chamblee said in La Quinta. "I
try to find the humor in everything." As an example he cited the
20-foot chip shot from gnarly greenside rough he had attempted at
the Reno-Tahoe Open in August. Stabbing sharply down on the ball
to make it pop up softly and trickle down to the hole, Chamblee
watched in disbelief as his ball hopped eight feet backward. "A
friend told me it was the golf gods. He said sometimes you have
to say, 'That's enough, golf gods, mess with somebody else next
To keep things in perspective, Chamblee and his wife, Karen,
focus on the antics of their sons Brandel Jr., 5, and recently
adopted Brennen, 3 months. When he's alone on the road, Brandel
reads himself to sleep with weighty tomes. (Last week's choice:
Cicero, a biography of the Roman orator.) Regardless of his
finish in the qualifying tournament, Chamblee expects to play 18
to 20 Tour events in 2003. He'll climb into the booth at nine
more as an analyst for ABC.
Oh, that first-round double bogey at PGA West? Chamblee thumbed
his nose at the golf gods and hung in for a two-over 74. "Some
days you spit on a 74," he said, "but I kicked and scratched and
fought for that baby."
2003 Status: Nationwide tour
"Did you tell them about the trash cans?" The question, from his
fiancee, Patty White, makes Mark Walker blush. "For a lot of
years I didn't have anywhere to practice," the 35-year-old Texas
pro says. "So I would go to this soccer field where I'd use trash
cans to mark distances." There was a certain comfort level, as
well, practicing on a flat, rectangular plot; Walker had learned
how to hit a golf ball on a football practice field at Burleson
(Texas) High, where the golf team also practiced. "The nearest
course to Burleson was 30 miles away in Fort Worth."
Walker played one semester of juco golf in Paris (not the one in
France) before practically giving up the game for four years. He
later transferred to Texas-Arlington, and a friend encouraged him
to enter the 1995 Texas State Open. Walker, who had never played
in a pro tournament, showed up for his practice round in gym
shorts. "I didn't know what you were supposed to do," he says,
adding sheepishly, "I've always felt out of place around the
Walker made the cut in that tournament and earned his first check
as a professional. A few years later he began playing full time,
and this season he was player of the year on the Tight Lies tour,
a regional circuit in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Lacking
sponsors, Walker has supplemented his tournament income with
stints as a bartender and as the owner of a lawn service. The
three stages of Q school, he said, cost him about $7,000.
With his short, compact swing and exceptional iron game, Walker
no longer sticks out, but he wasn't entirely at ease at PGA West.
He played his three rounds on the famously punitive TPC Stadium
Course "in fear" (his words) and shook his head over the
swing-guru culture of the driving range, where every other player
seemed to be having his action tweaked and tuned. "I just try to
get a good feel from hitting balls," Walker says. "I hope I'm
doing it right."
2003 Status: PGA Tour
Yancey, 23, has a B.A. in anthropology from Virginia, but he's
not exactly the academic type. His close-cropped hair evokes boot
camp. His college coach called him Junkyard Dog. But Yancey knows
the value of good counsel, and he had his eye out for mentors on
his first trip to Q school finals.
Mentor One was Hilton (J.J.) James, a caddie with 17 years of PGA
Tour experience. James was hanging out in the course parking lot
at the beginning of the week when his Virginia Tech cap caught
Yancey's eye. When Yancey learned that the wily looper was from
Richmond--an hour from his own hometown of Blackstone--he hired
James for the week. "He's really helped me on the greens," Yancey
said last Saturday, enjoying his 29th-place position after four
rounds. "If I say left-center and J.J. says left-center, that
confirms it for me." James had equally high praise for his young
charge, who in 1996 became only the fifth male to win two
Virginia junior championships, joining Jimmy Ellis, Lloyd
Liebler, Curtis Strange and Lanny Wadkins. "Cameron's a little
pit bull," said James. "He won't take no meat off you. He'll bite
you and hang on."
Mentor Two was Tour veteran Steve Pate, who was paired with
Yancey for two rounds. "I've been watching Steve Pate all my
life," said Yancey, "and I never thought he'd be in Q school. He
helped me out a lot, made me feel comfortable." Asked if Pate had
displayed the temper that earned him the nickname Volcano, Yancey
laughed. "He'd go off, but it was kind of a joking thing. He's
not a guy who's breaking clubs and making you look away." The
real value of the pairing, Yancey added, was that he could use
Pate as a benchmark. "I felt if I could keep up with Steve, I'd
In the end Q school presented Yancey with few surprises. "It's
pretty much what I thought it would be," he said. "Chaotic.
Everybody trying to stay out of each other's way." Told that he
sounded more like an anthropologist than a junkyard dog, Yancey
laughed again. "Everybody here does something different.
Anthropology asks, Why?"
2003 Status: PGA Tour
How he plays is almost beside the point, because James McLean has
style. On Sunday, when he pulled into the top10 at Qschool,
McLean wore gray, pinstriped slacks and a white shirt with the
sleeves rolled up, a la Bruce Springsteen. "It's the European
fashion influence," McLean said after his round. "All the Swedish
golfers dress a little funky. They wear that stuff by J.
While we tried to conjure up an accurate picture of Swedish
fashion--cartoon-color peg pants and Bergmanesque black
turtlenecks came to mind--McLean pointed out that trendy clothing
requires a wiry physique like his own. "It doesn't work," he
said, "with a pot belly."
McLean, 24, wasn't born glamorous (or Swedish, for that matter).
The son of an Australian Rules Football player, he grew up in
Wahgunyah, Australia (pop. 500), and found his way to the U.S.
via a golf scholarship to Minnesota. If he sometimes seems to
have more style than substance--blond surfer locks and a facial
resemblance to Keanu Reeves will do that--he proved last week
that he has a pretty solid golf game, too. "He has a phenomenal
amount of talent," says Matt Messer, his caddie last week and one
of his instructors at the Jim McLean (no relation) Golf School in
Miami. "You hear a lot about Aaron Baddeley and Adam Scott, but
James is every bit as talented as those guys."
That may account for how James McLean won the 1998 NCAA
Championship, but it doesn't explain how he found his way into
the kind of duds that attract the likes of his girlfriend,
Melissa Kretchmer, who competed in the Miss Fitness America
pageant earlier this year. "She couldn't be here today," an
apologetic McLean said on Sunday. "She's doing a modeling shoot."
He seemed to have discovered the obvious: To do well at Q school,
it helps to have a high Q factor.
Read John Garrity's Mats Only column on golfonline.com.
Walker, who wore gym shorts to his first pro event, says he "felt
out of place around country-club types."