SCOTTSDALE, Arizona -- Jerry Kelly and Steve Stricker will be the only fully exempt golfers from Wisconsin on the PGA Tour Champions during the 2018 season.
Madison native Jim Schuman and Milwaukee native Skip Kendall both fell short Friday in their quest for exempt status on the senior circuit during the final round of the final stage of PGA Tour Champions Qualifying School at TPC-Scottsdale. Schuman shot his second straight round of 1-under-par 70 and finished tied for 47th while Kendall, who earned exempt status for the 2017 season by finishing fifth in this event a year ago, shot 72 and tied for 65th out of 78 golfers.
Tom Byrum, 57, shot a final-round 66 and then eagled the first hole of a sudden-death playoff to beat Tommy Tolles, 51, who also shot 66 to finish at 19-under 265. Kent Jones, 50, who won the open qualifier for the American Family Insurance Championship in June, matched the low round of the day with a 7-under 64 and finished third at 18-under 266 while American Tim Petrovic, 51, and Japanese amateur Ken Tanigawa, 50, who calls Paradise Valley, Arizona, home, earned the last of the five fully exempt spots after shooting 72 and 70, respectively, to finish at 17-under 267.
Tanigawa played professionally for 11 years in Australia, Asia and Japan and played on the Web.com Tour in 2003 before returning to the amateur ranks where has won numerous titles in his home state of Arizona. He was tied for one of the final spots going into the final hole, but first-round leader Brian Henninger hit his tee shot into the water and made a bogey 5 to miss out on the top five by one shot.
“There are only five guys coming out of there with, really, the thing you went there for,” Schuman said in a telephone interview. “Those are pretty tough odds and it has to be your week. Things really have to go right for you. That’s the way it is and that’s the way golf is. It doesn’t mean any of those players can’t go out and be competitive in a (PGA Tour) Champions event. Those guys that shot those scores this week, this was their week. They deserve what they earned, for sure.”
Schuman struggled out of the gates Friday in his bid to rally into the top 30 and be exempt from pre-qualifying for Monday qualifiers at each of the 2018 PGA Tour Champions regular events.
He started on No. 10 and failed to birdie the opening hole for the first time all week and then made four bogeys for a 2-over 38 on his first nine. Schuman birdied three of his first five holes on his second nine before finishing bogey-birdie-par for his third straight sub-par round of the week.
“Obviously, it was a great week,” said Schuman, the director of instruction at Blue Mound G&CC in Wauwatosa who got into the event with a runner-up finish at the Senior PGA Professionals Championship in September. “We learned something. Even at age 54, you can still learn. There were a lot of great players and I got to play with quite a few of them. “Did I play my best? No, I played well, but I didn’t get it up-and-down or putt as well as I needed to shoot those kind of scores. It’s always an honor to go through that. I have to thank Blue Mound for encouraging me to do that and continuing to play and try to play at the highest level I can possibly play at.”
Schuman will spend the rest of his winter helping long-time fellow teaching professional Rick Smith launch his newest golf school at Doral G&CC in Miami. Schuman said he is looking forward to returning to Wisconsin in April for another summer on the staff at Blue Mound .
“I love being at Blue Mound,” he said. “I want to be there as long as they’re willing to have me there.”