SAN JACINTO, Calif. — It's tough to tell if Dan Woltman has become more cynical or skeptical in his advanced age (he turned 33 this week), but the former University of Wisconsin golfer was dishing up a little of each Friday afternoon as he got set to leave the Golf Club at Soboba Springs.
There was a lot to like about how his final round of the first stage of Korn Ferry Tour Qualifying School went. He made three birdies on each side of bogeys at Nos. 7 and 9, shot a 4-under-par 68 (his best round of the week) and finished the 72-hole audition at 8-under 280 total, which seemed as if it would be good enough for the Beaver Dam native to advance to Stage 2.
Woltman, however, still wasn't convinced.
"I hit two good putts on (Nos.) 17 and 18," Woltman said of the two birdie tries he was hoping to convert to eliminate any doubt. "Both just wiggled off. Both of them hit the edge and just didn't go in. It's a frustrating way to finish. Thankfully, I made a couple of birdies on that back nine. I made two really bad bogeys on (Nos.) 7 and 9 making the turn. At the start of the day, I thought 67 was the number. I treated it as a Monday qualifier and said 'Just go be aggressive. You've got to shoot 67 or better. I shot 68. I don't know."
The four-time Wisconsin State Open champion does know disappointment.
When he passed through these parts a year ago for the second stage of what was then known as Web.com Tour Q-School, Woltman fired a final-round 67 down the road at Bear Creek Country Club in Murrieta and received a lot of slaps on the back for his 8-under-par showing over the final 36 holes. But he did not receive a spot in the final stage of qualifying for the PGA Tour's top developmental tour. The top 18 plus ties would have advanced, but this time there would be no ties — just Woltman sitting alone in 19th place, arguably the loneliest feeling he has experienced in his 10-year professional career.
This time, the news was much happier for Woltman.
He made the cut on the number and will get another crack at second stage next month at a site yet to be determined. This qualifying site was awarded 23 berths to the second stage and Woltman tied for 23rd with three other golfers for the last of what proved to be 26 survivors at Soboba Springs.
Unfortunately for Green Bay's Ricky Hearden — Wisconsin's other entrant in the 76-player field — he got a taste of the disappointment Woltman felt last year. He shot a final-round 70 and his 6-under 282 total left him two shots short of joining Woltman at 8-under and in the second of the three stages — the latter being the one that affords golf rising starts the most benefits.
"I played well," said Hearden, 29, who has survived the first stage just once in six tries (in 2014). "I just didn't make it. You saw it. I didn't make a putt outside of three feet. I was struggling to get anything going."
Hearden, who had never played with Woltman before they were paired in the same group Friday, thought there might be one more comeback in him after he pulled off the shot of the day on the 13th hole. He bombed his drive down the right side of the fairway on the 425-yard, par-4 only to have the ball bound into an area of desert-scape where it drew a good lie just ahead of a small bush. Hearden took a steep swing at it and managed to stop his approach a few feet from the cup, setting up a short birdie try that got him back to even-par for the day.
Despite birdies on both par-5s coming in (Nos. 15 and 18), however, Hearden would come up two shots short. It would have been a one-shot margin — or maybe a totally different story altogether — had his drive on No. 18 making the turn Thursday not been gobbled up by a palm tree, forcing Hearden to take a one-stroke penalty for a lost ball on a day when he still shot 67.
"I hit it about as well as anyone could hit it (Thursday)," Hearden said. "I hit it inside 15 feet way too many times to count. (Thursday), 5-under was as high as I could have possibly shot. I lost a ball in the tree, which was a foot left of where I hit it (Friday) on No. 18 and I had a 9-iron in. But there wasn't much of a difference (Friday). I felt good out there. I was proud of myself. I was super, super calm. I was very, very focused. I was nervous as heck all day (Friday), which was cool. That's why you play. I had three bad shots (Friday) and, other than that, it was pretty flawless."
While Hearden was left to figure out where he will play in 2020 (and how he will pay for those opportunities), Woltman felt fortunate to avoid that same crossroads. He has made a handsome salary the past two years on the state open circuit in the upper Midwest, but his personal bar is set much higher.
"The way I've played golf this year, my game is way better than last year; I think I finished in the top five in just about everything I played all summer," said Woltman, at a loss to explain why he struggled to the tune of 13 bogeys over four days at Soboba Springs. "To come here and have a week like this, I didn't see it coming. But that's golf. Everyone who plays it knows that things can compound and you can have some bad days. Unfortunately, I had a couple bad ones this week. I don't want to take away from anything else I play in, but this is the most important week of the entire year."
As Woltman headed toward his sister's place in Santa Monica with his father Bryan, who caddied for him this week, to wait for all of the scores to be posted, Woltman admitted his future.
"It's not fun," Woltman said of the waiting game that ensued. "This is my job and hopefully I can continue this as my job after (Friday). ... People everyday go to work and get a paycheck. They know if they do well and perform well, they're going to get promotions and get raises. This is our only shot to get a promotion.
"Overall, it was a very frustrating week for me. I made 13 bogeys in four rounds and I pride myself on not making mistakes. I made a boatload this week. It is what it is. There's nothing I can do about it now, obviously. Hopefully, I'm at a second-stage site in a couple weeks. If not, I don't know what's next."
|1||David Gazzolo Riverside, CA||-20||F||-5||71||65||65||67||268|
|2||David Kim Buena Park, CA||-19||F||-2||67||62||70||70||269|
|3||-||Morgan Deneen Conway, SC||-18||F||-6||68||69||67||66||270|
|T4||Matt Picanso Vista, CA||-16||F||-6||70||71||65||66||272|
|T4||Jared Sawada Mililani, HI||-16||F||-4||70||66||68||68||272|
|6||-||Theo Humphrey Tequesta, FL||-15||F||-4||68||69||68||68||273|
|7||Lincoln Tighe Australia||-14||F||-2||69||69||66||70||274|
|8||Brady Calkins Chehalis, WA||-13||F||-6||69||70||70||66||275|
|T9||Mitch Carlson Las Vegas, NV||-12||F||-2||67||69||70||70||276|
|T9||Bryan Hogan Richmond, TX||-12||F||-2||70||68||68||70||276|
|T11||Cole Madey West Linn, OR||-11||F||-6||77||71||63||66||277|
|T11||Brent Grant Murrieta, CA||-11||F||-5||71||70||69||67||277|
|T11||Michael Feuerstein La Jolla, CA||-11||F||-2||69||69||69||70||277|
|T14||Johnny De Los Reyes Sacramento, CA||-10||F||-7||71||67||75||65||278|
|T14||-||Chris Crisologo Canada||-10||F||-1||69||68||70||71||278|
|T14||Joseph Harrison Boulder City, NV||-10||F||E||71||66||69||72||278|
|T14||Kyle Karazissis Indian Wells, CA||-10||F||E||71||65||70||72||278|
|T14||Alex Kang Las Vegas, NV||-10||F||E||65||73||68||72||278|
|T19||Tyler Torano Chula Vista, CA||-9||F||-3||71||68||71||69||279|
|T19||Hayden Shieh Fremont, CA||-9||F||-3||72||67||71||69||279|
|T19||Daniel Miernicki Santee, CA||-9||F||-3||70||70||70||69||279|
|T19||Ryan Ellerbrock Chula Vista, CA||-9||F||E||70||69||68||72||279|
|Dan Woltman Beaver Dam, WI||-8||F||-4||72||69||71||68||280|
|T23||Richard Lee Phoenix, AZ||-8||F||-4||72||69||71||68||280|
|T23||Bruce Doucett Coto De Caza, CA||-8||F||-3||76||66||69||69||280|
|T23||Chris French Loves Park, IL||-8||F||-3||75||70||66||69||280|
|DID NOT QUALIFY|
|T27||Otto Vanhatalo San Diego, CA||-7||F||-3||71||70||71||69||281|
|T27||Sean Meehan San Antonio, TX||-7||F||-2||72||68||71||70||281|
|T27||David Bradshaw Encinitas, CA||-7||F||-1||69||74||67||71||281|
|T27||Manav Shah Bakersfield, CA||-7||F||+3||69||67||70||75||281|
|T31||James Back La Palma, CA||-6||F||-3||71||70||72||69||282|
|T31||Matt Nagy Buena Vista, GA||-6||F||-3||74||72||67||69||282|
|Ricky Hearden Phoenix, AZ||-6||F||-2||71||74||67||70||282|
|T31||David Sanders Mt. Laurel, NJ||-6||F||+1||69||70||70||73||282|
|T31||Chad Hambright Lake Elsinore, CA||-6||F||+1||72||67||70||73||282|
|T36||Derek Ackerman Half Moon Bay, CA||-4||F||-1||72||73||68||71||284|
|T36||Minwook Gwon Torrance, CA||-4||F||+1||68||71||72||73||284|
|T36||Jaekyeong Lee South Korea||-4||F||-4||79||71||66||68||284|
|T36||Mark Anguiano Whittier, CA||-4||F||+3||72||66||71||75||284|
|T36||Mathias Dahl Sweden||-4||F||+3||66||71||72||75||284|
|T41||Ben Doyle Scottsdale, AZ||-3||F||E||75||70||68||72||285|
|T41||Bart George Arnold, MD||-3||F||-1||74||69||71||71||285|
|T41||Cole Nygren Longmont, CO||-3||F||-1||70||69||75||71||285|
|T44||Ben Briscoe San Clemente, CA||-2||F||+1||68||73||72||73||286|
|T44||Andrew Levitt Ladera Ranch, CA||-2||F||-1||76||70||69||71||286|
|T46||-||Jesse Heinly Portland, OR||-1||F||E||74||67||74||72||287|
|T46||Grant Booth Reno, NV||-1||F||+5||68||71||71||77||287|
|T46||Redford Bobbitt Las Vegas, NV||-1||F||-4||77||71||71||68||287|
|T46||Daniel Im La Mirada, CA||-1||F||-6||72||76||73||66||287|
|T50||Matt Cowgill Weston, MA||E||F||E||72||70||74||72||288|
|T50||Joe Cooper Irvine, CA||E||F||E||75||70||71||72||288|
|T50||Jay Hwang Fullerton, CA||E||F||-2||78||72||68||70||288|
|T53||Raoul Menard Canada||+1||F||+4||74||71||68||76||289|
|T53||Chris Killmer Bellingham, WA||+1||F||+1||67||72||77||73||289|
|T53||Sarosh Adi Plano, TX||+1||F||E||76||68||73||72||289|
|56||Roy Cootes Rolling Hills, CA||+2||F||-3||80||70||71||69||290|
|T57||Matthew Pinizzotto Salinas, CA||+3||F||+3||73||69||74||75||291|
|T57||-||Jerry Chen Rancho Cucamonga, CA||+3||F||E||72||73||74||72||291|
|T57||-||Christian Rajcic Ramona, CA||+3||F||E||71||69||79||72||291|
|T60||Ryan Gronlund Pleasanton, CA||+4||F||+1||75||74||70||73||292|
|T60||Dylan Crowley Studio City, CA||+4||F||E||72||76||72||72||292|
|T60||Cory McElyea Santa Cruz, CA||+4||F||-2||76||74||72||70||292|
|T63||Danny List Seattle, WA||+5||F||+4||74||74||69||76||293|
|T63||Blake Collyer Australia||+5||F||+1||74||70||76||73||293|
|T63||J.J. Nevius Mountainside, NJ||+5||F||-1||78||71||73||71||293|
|T66||Mike McGilton Las Cruces, NM||+6||F||+1||74||72||75||73||294|
|T66||Eric Banks Canada||+6||F||-1||76||75||72||71||294|
|T68||Cody Hall (a) Wildomar, CA||+7||F||+8||73||72||70||80||295|
|T68||Michael Tolladay Fresno, CA||+7||F||+3||72||72||76||75||295|
|70||-||Andrew Bonner Ripon, CA||+8||F||-1||76||75||74||71||296|
|71||Kevin Larsen Santa Barbara, CA||+9||F||E||74||79||72||72||297|
|DID NOT FINISH|
|WD||-||Matt Pridey Corral De Tierra, CA||+7|
|WD||-||Christopher Tuulik San Diego, CA||+9|
|WD||-||Johnny Partridge Fairfax, CA||+10|
|WD||-||Han Seop Lee (a) Chino Hills, CA||+15|
|WD||-||Derrick Williams Riverside, CA||+15|