No more fast track to the top for some Boise Open competitors

Collegiate players now must go through the Web.com Tour to qualify for the PGA Tour.

ccripe@idahostatesman.comJuly 15, 2014 

  • PEYTON MANNING VISITS BOISE

    What better way to celebrate the 25th year of the Albertsons Boise Open - and the grocer's new naming rights deal for Boise State's football stadium - than to bring the best Bronco of them all to town for the celebration?

    That's how tournament promoter Jeff Sanders introduced five-time National Football League MVP and current Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning to a standing ovation at the golf tournament's kickoff dinner Monday night at the Boise Center.

    Here are some highlights from Manning's on stage Q&A with Sanders:

    On Golf: Manning, who boasts a 5 handicap, said his favorite foursome is playing with his dad and two brothers. "I always said you can't be a great golfer and a great quarterback. I'm a better quarterback than I am a golfer."

    Coming back from his career-threatening neck injury: “I wanted to at least try, but I didn’t want to sign with a new team unless I could be the player they thought they were getting.”

    On work ethic: “I believe you have to have a work ethic on anything you do if you want to achieve. I try to be a better player each year than I was the year before.” (continued) “It’s hard not to get excited about a game on a Sunday with 80,000 fans cheering for you. … But you have to ask yourself, how bad are you willing to work out in April or in the heat of July?”

    His transition to a new team in Denver: “You’ve got to earn the respect of the people you’re leading.”

    On team chemistry: Manning, who’s 38, joked about playing with NFL rookies who are 21 and 22 years old. He talked about a conversation he had with one of the Broncos’ recently drafted wide receivers, who told Manning he was just 4 when Peyton was a senior at the University of Tennessee. “Just a little warning, I’m not sure if I’d draft this kid on your fantasy team this year. Not sure how many passes he’s going to get.”

    Memorable defenders: “The one guy who’s hit me the hardest is a guy named Ray Lewis.”

    On life after football: “I’m in the homestretch. I’m almost out of eligibility to play. I feel lucky to still be playing in my 17th year. I think I’ll stop playing whenever I don’t enjoy the work process and can’t help the team.”

    On Boise: "I can tell Boise is a special community. My left tackle (Ryan Clady) is a Boise State alum. I take Ryan out to eat every Friday night. He's well fed and happy. He's a good friend and a great player."

    —Brent Boyer

— The best college golfers, like the top college football players, used to go straight to the big league.

Now many of those golfers end up on the Web.com Tour, which winds its way through Boise this week. The Albertsons Boise Open is Thursday through Sunday at Hillcrest Country Club.

The PGA Tour's new qualifying format, implemented last year, removed the direct route from college to the top tour. The change shows with one look at this year's Web.com Tour money list.

Of the players ranked in the top 25 - the ones who, as of today, would earn playing privileges on the PGA Tour for the 2014-15 season - six are rookies who turned pro in the past two years.

That includes leading money-winner Carlos Ortiz, who graduated from North Texas in August 2013, and Sebastian Cappelen, who tied for ninth in the NCAA men's golf tournament in May and won his first start on the Web.com Tour in June.

Also, Alabama star Cory Whitsett, who helped the Crimson Tide win the past two NCAA titles, is expected to make his third start of the season this week.

"I like (qualifying) this way," said Cappelen. "Obviously I can say that, now that I'm on here. People who are still trying to get on here, it might seem like a long way to the PGA Tour. But I think it's healthy for everyone."

The old system allowed new pros to enter the PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament and advance directly to the PGA Tour. The new system sends players from Q-School to the Web.com Tour, where they must earn a promotion to the PGA Tour.

The top 25 money-winners on the Web.com Tour get PGA Tour cards for the following season. The next 50 finishers on the Web.com Tour and the players ranked Nos. 126 to 200 on the PGA Tour compete in the four-event Web.com Tour Finals for an additional 25 PGA Tour cards.

The Boise Open, with its $800,000 purse, has attracted all of the top 25 money-winners this year.

Cappelen will make his fourth start. He got into the Air Capital Classic in Wichita, Kan., through a Monday qualifier and won. That secured his spot on the Web.com Tour for the rest of this season and all of next season, but it also earned him enough money that he ranks 22nd on the money list.

"It's like I just skipped 100 steps on a ladder on the way to where I want to be," he said. "I felt like this is kind of cheating, but it is possible and I did it. I've just got to take it from where I am now and see where I can take it."

Ortiz, who is from Mexico, can advance immediately to the PGA Tour with a third win. He won early-season events in Mexico and Panama, and finished third in Colombia and Georgia.

He chose to play out his last summer as an amateur last year, rather than chase the Web.com Tour like Cappelen did this year.

Ortiz used the time to complete some changes in his game.

"Everybody thinks, 'You're playing great. What are you doing?' " he said. "It's not what you're doing right now. It's what you did maybe six months ago. I really practiced hard. … It was part of my path to be here."

Ortiz, 23, hopes to build momentum late this summer the way he did last summer. He's a lock to make the final top 25 and advance to the PGA Tour, which begins the 2014-15 season in October.

"I'm having great success here, and I want to try to continue learning from this so I'll be where I want to be for October," he said. "… I think if I keep working hard and give my best, I'm going to be successful on the next tour, too."

Cappelen, 24, came to the U.S. from Denmark to pursue his golf career. Some European players skip college, turn pro immediately and play on the European tour.

Others go the American college route. In Denmark, Cappelen said, it isn't feasible to play sports while attending college.

At Arkansas, he became the school's first four-time golf All-American and won the Southeastern Conference title in 2013.

"The golf courses never get this good in Denmark," Cappelen said. "We don't have the right resources. We have some stupid laws that we can't water the golf courses. We can water the greens, but if we have sun for a week the fairways are yellow."

His first act as a pro was to try to qualify for the U.S. Open. He lost in a playoff at a sectional event, the last stage.

Because he missed the U.S. Open, he entered the qualifier in Wichita.

"You could say that the best thing to happen to me was missing the U.S. Open," he said, "because otherwise I probably wouldn't have gone to Wichita."

The win, though, wasn't enough to clinch a spot on the PGA Tour for next season. He probably needs one more strong finish.

"It's very nice to have some security," he said of his guaranteed spot on the Web.com Tour through next season. "Once that goes through your mind, then you realize, 'I can make it to the PGA Tour.' Now the pressure is right back on."

BOISE OPEN FAN FACTS

Junior clinic today

The Idaho Statesman Junior Clinic is at 5 p.m. Tuesday at Hillcrest Country Club. Web.com Tour pros will give 1-on-1 lessons to the children in attendance.

Other events this week

• Albertsons Boise Open ($800,000 purse): 72 holes, Thursday through Sunday. Play runs from 7:15 a.m. to 6 p.m. for the first two rounds and 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the weekend. Daily tickets are $15 (17 and younger are free). Weekly tickets are $35.

• Curtis Stigers Live on the Fairway: The encore of last year’s popular concert begins at 7 p.m. Friday on No. 10. All ticketed golf fans can attend, but there are separate tickets for chairs near the stage ($30) or preferred lawn seating ($20). • Family Day: Visit the Pepsi Pavilion from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday for family-friendly activities.

• Bisquick Breakfast at Hillcrest: The Pepsi Pavilion hosts a free pancake breakfast for all ticketed fans from 9 to 11 a.m. Sunday.

Parking

Free parking with shuttle is available in the airport overflow lot at Victory and Orchard.

Prizes

The first 500 fans Thursday-Friday and first 1,000 fans Saturday-Sunday will receive 25th anniversary commemorative items. They include a hat, handheld fan, water bottle and tote bag. … Fans can sign up for a chance to win a car. If a player aces No. 17 in the final round, a winner will be drawn from the entries. Hunter Haas aced that hole in the final round last year. … Fans can enter a daily putting competition for a chance to putt for a car on Sunday.

Boise Open on TV

Live broadcasts air from 3 to 5 p.m. Thursday-Sunday on the Golf Channel.

Chadd Cripe: 377-6398, Twitter: @IDS_BroncoBeat

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