Jake Younan-Wise, a 26-year-old pro out of Australia, needed a late charge in his final round to jump into the top-50, a coveted spot for those playing at PGA West, and he did just that with a seven birdie stretch over his final 13 holes to finish T-42 and earn a spot on the range at the Web.com events in 2014.
We talked to Younan-Wise (follow him on Twitter here) after he touched down in Australia about the difference in Q-School this year and years past, his play to close and what happens to the players after they complete six rounds of mind-numbingly tough golf.
DB: This is the first year the PGA Tour decided to change Q-School. Did it feel different in Palm Springs this year compared to years past?
YW: This was the first year that the tour has decided to change the format. I played at final stage in 2010 and it was very intense. I felt like you could tell in peoples faces the stress that final stage out on them. This year seemed a little different. In Q-School there is always going to be people that have bad last days just due to pressure. It's not a fun thing to see a fellow golfer perform like that. Not many played bad on the final day. The weather was perfect which helped and we finished on the easier of the two courses. Also the pressure of a PGA Tour card wasn't looming over our heads. I know I had more fun on the course and knowing I've already played on the Web.com tour before it wasn't as stressful for me.
DB: You had an incredible finish, playing the last 13 holes 7-under to jump into the top-50, which is extremely important considering your 2014 status is now on the Web.com. Talk about your finish, your mentality after the slow start in the final round, and the emotions that came after your finished?
YW: The whole week was a blur to me after shooting 77 in the first round. I felt like I was living and dying by every shot because I was so far back. I had to slowly claw by way back. The start to my round was painful. I figured I had just blown my chances. I didn't hit that bad of golf shots. A few unlucky breaks in a row and next thing I know I'm in an almost impossible position. I had to chip out of a fairway bunker, had a ball stuck 30 feet up a palm tree and a 360 lip out all in my first three holes. I stepped to the side and had a quick pep talk with myself and then I had to figure out how badly I actually wanted this. From that point on I was pretty locked in. I had an 11 hole stretch of 7-under and holed two of the biggest clutch par putts of my life. An eight-footer on No. 8 and a five-footer on No. 9 which I had to hit each putt outside the hole and trust it would break. Those two putts are what I'm more proud of then anything. I was a little shaky to say the least because I still had people on the course that could affect my position but after an hour it was impossible for me to move outside the number. That was a huge relief.
DB: How stressful is Q-School? Compare it to other events you've played in, and give us just a rundown of the mental exhaustion that six days play on a golfer trying to earn a living for next year?
YW: Q-School is a strange tournament. It's unlike any golf I've ever played. For years I always thought you had to play perfect golf just to advance but that's not the case at all. You just have to play good, steady golf and minimize bogeys as much as possible. In the 14 Q-School rounds I played this year, I only shot four (rounds) in the 60's. I felt like I handled myself great on the course though. In each stage I had bad stretches but I fought really hard to not let the bad golf affect me. Final stage was a really long nine days including practice rounds. It seemed like it was never going to end. It was mentally exhausting on me because after my first nine holes I couldn't relax on one shot. I had to fight on every shot just to have a chance in round six and I knew that. After the 77 it was all about giving myself a chance to get a spot in the top 45. I have lost some weight recently and worked hard in the gym and I believe that really helped my energy and my focus for the last 13 holes when I most needed it.
DB: What was Tuesday night like after your final round, and everyone's final round?
YW: Tuesday night was a fun night to say the least. We started it off at the golf club after the round with a few beers and then moved to a few friends house to keep the celebration going. Sat around the fire with a few other guys that made it and we chatted about how the week was and how much we are looking forward to next year. It was also our friends birthday on Tuesday so we met up with them at a bar and celebrated pretty hard. Quite a few adult beverages were consumed that night. The adrenaline was still running and me and Jimmy Gunn were the last two standing at about 4:45 AM when we decided to shut it down.
DB: What are your goals for '14?
YW: 2014 I have really decided to dedicate myself as hard as I can. I feel like I took it for granted a bit in 2011 and expected it to be easy. Far from the case but I believe that maturing since then I realize just how hard it is and how much work needs to be done to compete. I have a few goals which include winning a tournament and finishing inside the top-25. I also want to be a lot more consistent and make cuts on a regular basis. I feel 2014 is going to be a great year.
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