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December 11, 2013

The field for this week’s (Dec. 12-17) Final Stage of the 2013 Tour Qualifying Tournament is all but set, with the Stadium and Nicklaus Courses at PGA West in La Quinta, Calif. set to host the tournament.

As the path to the PGA TOUR, the initial goal of every player at the Qualifying Tournament is to earn a Tour card for next year, with the ultimate goal being to secure one of the 50 TOUR cards now available annually via the Tour. The first of six rounds begins Thursday.

"It's a marathon, not a spring," said SCGA member Max Homa (pictured), who recently turned professional and will be competing in his first q-school. "I need to play it like any other tournament and keep myself in the mix."

In 2013, the PGA TOUR significantly changed its qualifying process. Through 2012, the PGA TOUR Qualifying Tournament offered 25 PGA TOUR cards for the upcoming season, with an additional 25 being awarded to the 25 leading money winners on the Tour. All Qualifying Tournament finalists would earn TOUR status; the top 50 and ties on the PGA TOUR and all others on the Tour. That changed with the announcement last year that all 50 TOUR cards would come through the Tour beginning this year, and that the PGA TOUR Qualifying Tournament would become the Tour Qualifying Tournament, with all of its Finalists earning a place on the Tour for the next year.

The path to this year’s Qualifying Tournament Final has included Pre-Qualifying, First and Second Stages, and now the Finals, with certain players able to forego various stages based on applicable exemptions.

Among those earning exemptions into the Finals are those players who finished 6-10 on the respective PGA TOUR Canada and NEC Series-PGA TOUR Latinoamérica Orders of Merit.

There has only been one previously played qualifying school that fed players directly to the Tour. In early January, 1990, four weeks prior to the official launch of what was then the Ben Hogan Tour, 132 players competed at Grenelefe Resort in Haines City, Fla., with the low 35 and ties receiving their Tour cards. John Daly was the medalist in the four-round competition.

The following is a list of notable SCGA members and other local SoCal players who advanced to the Finals at one of the six recent Second Stage qualifiers.

Josh Anderson, a high-school teammate of Rickie Fowler's at Murrieta Valley, finished seventh at second stage qualifying at Bear Creek Golf Club in Murrieta, Calif. Anderson was an All-American at Pepperdine in 2012 and won the 2007 California Amateur Championship. Anderson finished 44th on PGA TOUR Canada's Order of Merit this year.

Max Homa, the 2013 NCAA individual champion and member of Valencia Country Club, advanced on the number at his second stage qualifier. The two members of the 2013 U.S. Walker Cup team who have since turned pro (Homa, Justin Thomas) both advanced to Final Stage. Homa finished ninth in his pro debut at the Open, the first event of the 2013-14 PGA TOUR season; he finished 30th in the following week's Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. He wraps up a year in which he won the NCAA Individual Championship and played in his first U.S. Open. He currently graces the cover of the SCGA's FORE Magazine.

USC junior Anthony Paolucci was the only player to break par in all four rounds of second stage; he won by one shot. Paolucci was one of two collegians to advance out of Bear Creek in Murrieta, joining 2013 college player of the year and San Diego native Michael Kim of Cal, who advanced on the number after shooting 71-66-78-73. They must turn pro after Q-School Finals if they want to accept 2014 Tour status. Kim also finished 17th at the U.S. Open and played in the Walker Cup.

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