GOLF

Diaz rallies to improve status in final round of Q-School

ablondin@thesunnews.comDecember 17, 2013 

Golfer Roberto Diaz

Myrtle Beach resident Roberto Diaz will be competing in the six-round finals of Q-school for a chance to qualify for the Web.com tour.

CHARLES SLATE — cslate@thesunnews.com Buy Photo

A late flurry of birdies helped Myrtle Beach resident Roberto Diaz salvage a decent finish in the Web.com Tour Qualifying Tournament finals at PGA West in La Quinta, Calif.

The Q-School finals were doomed from the start for Zack Byrd of Murrells Inlet.

Diaz shot a 5-under-par 67 Tuesday in the sixth and final round on the Nicklaus Course to move up from 83rd through five rounds to 56th, which likely gives him enough status to get into a handful of early-season 2014 Web.com Tour events and improve his status with good play.

Diaz’s 67 was bogey-free and included a 4-under 32 on his back nine and three birdies in his final six holes to move to 10-under 422.

“I am very happy the way I played the whole week,” Diaz said. “I can’t complain about making 31 birdies.”

Byrd opened the finals with a 6-over 78 and remained near the back of the pack in the 152-player field for the remainder of the tournament. He closed with a 1-under 71 on the Stadium Course to tie for 141st at 8-over 440.

“I think we’re more in a state of shock than we are anything else,” Byrd said. “I never thought it was going to be like that as good as I was playing and as much confidence as I had. That’s just golf I guess.”

Zack Fischer, who played collegiately at Texas-Arlington, closed with his second consecutive 8-under 64 to win with a 31-under 401 and earn a full exemption on the 2014 Web.com Tour next year.

Fischer, who Monday qualified for three PGA Tour events in 2013 and made one cut, opened the tournament with a 75 but played the final five rounds 34 under with 33 birdies, two eagles and three bogeys over the final 90 holes.

This was the first year that Q-school offered only status on the PGA Tour’s secondary circuit. In recent years the top 25 earned PGA Tour status.

Scott Pinckney finished two shots back in second. Players in the top 10 are exempt until a status reshuffle after 12 tournaments, and players who finished between 11th and 45th do not face the reshuffle until after the eighth event.

Players finishing lower than 45th have conditional statuses that alternate with players who finished between 76th and 100th on the 2013 Web.com Tour regular season money list, and that’s where Diaz falls with his tie for 56th.

He’ll be left to lament just one round – a 5-over 77 at the Stadium Course in Monday’s fifth round that dropped him from 23rd to 83rd entering the final round. The Mexico native and four-year Myrtle Beach resident who trains at the Greg Norman Champions Golf Academy at Barefoot Resort was under par in each of his other five rounds.

“If I could go back I would only concentrate more on some shots,” Diaz said. “I do not know what finishing 56th means. The goal was to finish top 20 and I didn’t make it. I will go back to Mexico to rest and analyze things and then make a program to approach the 2014 season.”

All 152 players who reached the finals have some Web.com Tour status, so Byrd intends to make the best of whatever opportunities arise. The CCU alum was advised that he might get into the fourth event of the year in Brazil, and has an outside chance to also get into early-season events in Chile and Mexico. He’s also hoping to receive a sponsor’s exemption into May’s BMW Charity Pro-Am in Greenville, as he did in 2012 following a poor finish in the 2011 Q-School finals.

His status could improve in reshuffles if he plays well in any start.

“If you’re going to play bad, it’s a whole lot better to do it at the last stage than second stage because you have some status,” Byrd said. “I’m going to have some chances.”

Because a number of spots on both the PGA Tour Canada and PGA Tour’s Latinoamerica NEC Series feeder tours are held for Web.com Tour members, Byrd may opt to play in Latin America, as Diaz did in 2013. A handful of the top finishers on the tour will earn 2015 Web.Com Tour status. “I’m going to use every option I can and can afford next year,” Byrd said.

After a 79 in the third round on the Nicklaus Course left him 13 over, Byrd played the final three rounds 5 under.

“My caddie and I just kind of committed to finishing it out,” Byrd said. “It’s beyond embarrassing to shoot those two high scores, the last thing I was going to do was roll over and shoot another one. We recommitted and refocused to play our best even though we knew it didn’t matter in the long run.”

Contact ALAN BLONDIN at 626-0284.

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