The ones to watch from Q School and the ones to make you feel a bit uneasy

The Scoop

Mark Townsend highlights the next big things, the unsung heroes and some very odd behaviour at this year's Qualifying School

We’ve heard it all before but Q School can be a very odd playground and a brilliant insight into who to look out for next year. Here we highlight a bit of both…

A name for your notebook

Q School

Kurt Kitayama’s Q School campaign began with an eagle at Hardelot’s First Stage. The 25-year-old American then posted rounds of 64-66-65-65 to win by eight shots. In total there were 26 birdies and that eagle.

Then it was on to Las Colinas where he coasted through Second Stage with rounds of 68-69-65-73.

Now he holds the joint lead and, after asking a few players who are the ones to watch next season, Kitayama’s name keeps popping up. The others who have had at least a couple of mentions are Zander Lombard and Clement Sordet.

Kitayama has spent the past couple of seasons on the Web.Com, has had the very odd start on the PGA and European Tours with not much success but his game has picked up after some time spent on the Asian Tour this season. He’s from Vegas, he’s cool and, according to the ones in the know, he’s really good.

‘Am I in the slot?’

This can be a very, very odd week at times. Much of the golf is played out to a soundtrack of putter heads slamming into golf bags and balls find the water generally from player’s hands rather than their clubs. But my best bit was when Sweden’s Christofer Blomstrand, whose game was unravelling a bit, walked past a mirror on his way to the 10th tee. He stopped and, away from everyone, began to do a few swing drills, without a club, to work on his first move from the top.

Sadly it didn’t work, he came home in 42, signed for a 78 and missed the cut by bundles.

Brace yourself, there’s an amateur doing well

Golf fans are a strange bunch, none more so than myself, and the sight of an (AM) on a leaderboard tends to set off alarm bells for some reason. England’s Ben Hutchinson and Germany’s Allen John, who hits the ball a mile and tied for second at the European Open in July which meant he had to forego his €200,000 winnings, missed the cut but Kristoffer Reitan is still going strong at -18 and comfortably inside the magic mark.

The Norwegian, whose countryman and friend Viktor Hovland won the US Amateur this year, had planned to play college golf for Texas but instead chose to turn pro in the near future, hopefully with a European Tour card.

While Suzann Pettersen has starred in the women’s game for years the Norwegian men have yet to hit the heights but that could all change soon with this new breed of players.

“We’ve got a great system around us with a lot of support,” Reitan said. “The NGF is doing a ton of great work at the junior level and they’ve stepped up their game with the support team for young pros, too.”

Kristoffer Reitan

‘Pull the trigger, pull the trigger… PULL THE TRIGGER!’

There was a bit of chat about Sam Horsfield struggling to get the club away in Turkey. He explained that he’s working on it and that he hopes things will improve.

There was a moment on Wednesday when a player who I won’t name made Horsfield look like someone playing speed golf. Halfway through the routine of waggles, looks, more waggles and more looks I had to turn away. By the time I turned back it was still going on and it seemed like the whole world had just stopped moving.

He might want to take heart, if indeed it is a problem for him, from Danielle Kang who stood over her ball for FOUR MINUTES before finally hitting. The following week she won.

The unsung heroes of the week

To get Q School played at all took some effort given the amount of rain this part of the world has had in the past few weeks. Something like 800mm fell in two weeks leading up to this point which meant the pumpers were on at full tilt for a fortnight and the 18th green (pictured below) got pretty close to being flooded.

Then overnight before the fifth round someone had a go at three greens, digging up the 8th, 13th and 15th, which meant even more work than usual had to be put in, pins moved and turf replaced. There are plenty of heroes to make all this happen and the greenkeepers deserve a big chunk of praise for their efforts.

Lumine 18th

Manassero will be back – probably next week

One low point was watching the Italian maestro watch a 12-inch putt horseshoe out at the 16th, though his race was already run. He was the big name of the week, he was the one other players stopped to watch walk by or hit balls and he was the last man on the chipping green on Monday night.

For two days everything looked alright for the four-time winner as he got to 5-under. Then things hit the buffers and his scores went backwards. But before we get too concerned there are a couple of bits of good news. He’s still only 25 which seems ridiculous and, by people’s reckoning, he should still get around 22 starts next year so he won’t be short of chances to get things back on track.

Spare a thought for…

Manchester’s Tom Murray was seemingly going very nicely at 7-under after two rounds when he was told that he had got his scorecard mixed up, the total being the same, and therefore would be disqualified. Murray was only at Q School because he missed out on promotion from the Challenge Tour by €605.

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