When it comes to the qualifying school of the Korn Ferry Tour for professional golfers, Scott Harrington and Quade Cummins are pretty much at the opposite ends of the spectrum.
The two were among the 72 golfers who spent the past four days fighting through the University of New Mexico Championship Course, vying to be one of the 19 (plus ties) to earn a spot in next month’s Final Stage in Savannah, Georgia.
The Korn Ferry is the developmental tour for the U.S.-based PGA Tour, featuring professional golfers trying earn, or regain, their PGA card.
Cummins is a fresh-faced recent graduate of Oklahoma who played the Championship Course in the NCAA regionals this past spring. Then, the top-ranked Sooners came roaring back on the final day to go from ninth place to earn a NCAA championship tournament berth at fourth. Oklahoma eventually finished as national runner-up.
Meanwhile, at 40, Harrington has been down the Q-school road before.
“I don’t want to discount the importance for most of the guys here, but I already have pretty good status on the Korn Ferry,” he said. “I didn’t even know necessarily if I was going to do Q-school.”
Harrington ended up with an eagle on the final hole to leave him with a final-round 5-under 66 and a tie for 14th 3-under 281.
“If you’re able to play well on the final day and do something cool on the final hole to move on, those are things you store in your memory bank for a very long time,” he said. “Like an eagle on the last hole. That was pretty cool.”
Harrington has had his PGA card in the past and even finished in the top-100 in the Fed Ex tour as a rookie, but he also struggled as his wife, Jenn Harrington, battled Hodgkin’s lymphoma – a three-year strain during which he took off a season to care for her.
“Fortunately those are behind us,” he said of her health concerns. “I took one year off from the Korn Ferry to be home. But fortunately, things are going great. She has been in remission for three years now. But we did have a fairly rough patch there for awhile. It was really easy when I took the year off. It was the easiest decision ever. Now I need to have a good year on Korn Ferry.”
Cummins ended up squeaking into the finals at 2-under 282 along with five others tied for 18th.
“I have good vibes out there,” he said of the Championship Course. “So hopefully this will be another story I can add to it but if not, we’ll keep going. I just turned pro in June. I have Canadian tour status, so it’s not the end of the world if I don’t get through.”
Cummins knew it was a tight race to the finish, but he didn’t let it get to him.
“There’s always stress in golf tournaments,” he said. ‘It doesn’t matter if you’re playing for a million dollars or playing for 20 bucks with your buddies. There’s always stress. That’s why you play, is to be stressed. If you’re not stressed, then you’re probably not doing very good.”
Actually, wire-to-wire leader Tom Lovelady experienced little stress after finishing 15-under for a five-stroke victory.
“I was super laid-back,” he said. “The perspective of taking a year and change off will do that. I was super laid-back. I was never tense. It worked out and here we are.”
NOTE: There was reunion of sorts on the course when golfer Kyle Westmoreland met fan and Albuquerque resident Scott Olds. The last time the two encountered each other at a 2019 tournament in Findlay Lake, New York, Westmoreland drilled a drive that caromed off Olds’ wrist, breaking the skin.
“It was just right at you,” Westmoreland said. “You went down. I thought it hit you in the head.”
When the golfers reached him, “blood was pumping,” Westmoreland said. “It almost looked like it hit an artery. But it (the blood), it just didn’t stop. So I used some military training that I never used in the military and put a tourniquet on his arm.”
Using a golf towel and club to tighten, Westmoreland was able to stave the bleeding and see Olds off to the hospital.
“I just got a couple of stitches,” Olds said, holding out his arm.
Meanwhile, “I made a birdie on that hole so he stopped it from going into the woods,” Westmoreland said. “And I birdied the next hole so I ended up making the cut.”