Best of the Best—PGA Tour Q-School of 1971 (Conclusion)

(Editor’s note: This is the final installment of of a six-part series. Read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 and Part 5.)

By John Coyne


Copyright © John Coyne. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

EARLY ON THE LAST DAY of play, David Glenz from Coquille, Oregon, a June graduate of the University of Oregon with a degree in marketing, came from nowhere with a closing 69 to qualify with 442. David Graham slipped to 78 on his final round, but he was in at 440, good enough to qualify and that was all that mattered.

“It doesn’t matter where you finish,” he told me. “Just as long as you qualify.”

By three o’clock on Saturday, October 16, 1971, with most of the field in, it appeared to Joe Dey that 444 was the magic number, and he drove a cart to the eighteenth tee to tell the finishers.

The tournament was over except for watching the final threesome of Bob Zender, Tom Watson and Sam Adams on 18. They gave the spectators something to applaud.

Zender, putting first, left a 60-foot putt hanging on the lip. He settled for a 69 and finished with 425, three shots ahead of everyone else. He picked up the thousand dollars that a shirt manufacturer had donated for first prize. Then Adams, with a putt nearly as long, dropped his for a 69. It was left to Watson to top that, and he almost did, lipping the cup for his birdie. Smiling under a bushy red moustache, he tapped in for a final par and a 75, and was on his way to a great professional career.

Spike Kelley could not put it together on the last day and faded with 79, a total of 450, six shots too many. His cheerfulness, which had made him a favorite of the few spectators who came every day to camp on the ninth and eighteenth greens or walk a few holes in the sun, didn’t leave him. It hadn’t been a wasted week he told everyone.

“After all,” he said, “I got to play on a great golf course.” And he had plans to return to Q-School the next year when the tournament moved west. “I hope we play in California. I’ve never been to Disneyland.”

I don’t know if Spike ever made it to Disneyland, but I do know, and I regret to say, he never made a splash on the PGA Tour.

John Coyne is a bestselling author whose latest book is The Caddie Who Won the Masters. Learn more at John Coyne Books.

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