CHANDLER, Arizona — Jordan Niebrugge and the other 134 golfers in this week's final stage of Web.com Tour Qualifying School know what's at stake.
The medalist or co-medalists will be fully exempt on the PGA Tour's top developmental tour in 2019. Those finishing second through 10th (plus ties) are guaranteed at least 12 starts while those finishing 11th through 40th (plus ties) are assured of at least eight starts.
That made what Niebrugge did Thursday a good start. The Mequon native played his final nine holes in 4-under-par 32 to rally for an opening-round 66, leaving him in a tie for 14th place with his 6-under total. That is four shots off the pace set by Bryan Bigley and University of Mississippi golfer Braden Thornberry after 18 holes of this 72-hole event.
Niebrugge started slow on the Devil's Claw Course at Whirlwind Golf Club. He parred his first four holes before birdieing three of the next four to get to 3-under.
After a bogey at No. 9, his lone bogey of the opening round, Niebrugge bounced back with birdies at Nos. 10 and 12 to get to 4-under and then finished with birdies at Nos. 15 and 17 to jump into the top 15.
This week’s purse is $480,000, with $50,000 going to the medalist.