CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. --- There may be no greater grind in professional sports than PGA Tour Q School. Competitors challenge each other and two championship courses at PGA West in LaQuinta, Calif., for six days and 108 holes for full status on the PGA Tour and its main feeder, the Web.com (formerly Nationwide) Tour.
Former Chattanooga Mocs All-American Jonathan Hodge (2006-09) was up to that challenge. By finishing tied for 73rd at 10-under par, Hodge earned his Web.com Tour card. Through three stages, he competed for 252 holes (14 rounds).
"It has been an amazing journey for Jonathan," Head Coach Mark Guhne said. "He has overcome and persevered to get within a whisker of every golfer's dream, the PGA Tour. He is an inspiration and a great ambassador for our program."
Hodge won his first stage at Florence (S.C.) Country Club shooting nine-under par 271. That was followed by tying for 12th at Redstone Golf Club in Humble, Texas at minus eight (280).
His final stage started in rocky fashion. He opened with a three-over par 75, but then completed the final five rounds with typical Hodge-solid play. Three straight rounds of 69 (-3) were followed by two cards of 70 (-2) for a total of minus 10 (422). There were 26 birdies, 12 bogeys and a single score higher than bogey for his odyssey.
Hodge was not alone in his quest which is a great testament to the strength of the UTC program in the last few years. Former teammate and All-American Stephan Jaeger (2009-12) also earned his way to the final stage. He fell short of earning his card, but he does have status for Web.com Tour events.
Jaeger was spectacular early in the process. His 13-under 203 tied for medalist honors on pre-qualifying at Brunswick (Ga.) Country Club. He followed that by tying for fourth (-10) at the Club at Irish Creek (Concord, N.C.) and tying for 17th (-10) at Plantation Preserve Golf Course and Club in Plantation, Fla., to get to PGA West. Jaeger recorded just one over par round in his first 11 cards to move forward.
Bryce Ledford (2004-07) just missed making it to the final stage. He got to stage two by tying for 14th at Pensacola Country Club shooting 10 under (270). He was solid with four par or better cards for a seven-under 277 at Plantation Preserve, but it was not enough to advance to PGA West.
Derek Rende (2007-10) and Tripp Harris (2007-10) made runs as well. Harris was fifth, two shots behind Jaeger, in the pre-qualifying stage. He did not advance out of the first stage on Callaway Gardens' Mountain Course in Georgia, while Rende missed the mark at Grasslands Golf & Country Club in Lakeland, Fla.
The Mocs look to continue the upward trend of professionals, while awaiting the breakthrough of a PGA Tour member. UTC will be represented on the tour this year in a handful of events as United States Amateur Champion Steven Fox makes the most of his title.
Fox, by virtue of his epic win at Cherry Hills, is invited to the Masters, U.S. Open and British Open. He will also try his hand in various other Tour events starting with 2013 Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines.
The Mocs return to the course February 22-24 at the Redstone Collegiate Championship. The event is at the same club, Redstone Golf Club, that Hodge advance to the Q School final stage from but UTC will have to play the tournament course, while Hodge played the member course. The tourney course is home to the Shell Houston Open PGA Tour event.
"This has been a very special 2012 for us," Guhne added. "Fox's win in the U.S. Am, our team and Jaeger sweeping NCAA Regional and SoCon titles, along with Hodge getting his card...it all really gets me excited about what's to come for our program in 2013."GoMocs.com is the official website of the Chattanooga Mocs. The Mocs can also be followed on their official Facebook page, www.facebook.com/GoMocs, or on Twitter, @GoMocs & @GoMocsMGLF. Find out how to join the UTC Mocs Club and support more than 300 student-athletes by clicking here.