Michael Muehr is onto the Final Stage of PGA TOUR Champions qualifying
With three holes to go, Michael Muehr
found himself in a battle for the final spot in the PGA Tour Champions Final Qualifying. Sitting at 8 under par in the fourth and final round at TPC Tampa Bay, the 4-time Crump Cup champion was trailing professional Tom Gillis for the fifth and final spot.
Unbeknownst to Muehr, who was playing one group ahead, Gillis was making double-bogey at the par-4 15th to allow Muehr to creep within one shot. Muehr, perhaps thinking that he had to finish fast to catch Gillis, ended up going bogey-par-bogey to fall to 6 under.
As it turned out, three pars would have put him in a playoff.
Gillis would bogey the 18th to finish at 8-under 280, good enough to edge four players by a single shot for the final qualifying spot into next year's PGA Tour Champions season.
Muehr ultimately finished in a tie for 10th at 6 under, with rounds of 70-69-69-70 on the par-71 course.
The other four successful qualifiers were Rob Labritz (-17), David Branshaw (-14), Thongchai Jaidee (-14) and Roger Rowland (-9).
, a 5-time Arizona mid-am champion and the only other amateur in the field, tied for 51st with rounds of 75-75-71-71.
"It's always a great experience," said Hoops, a member of Whisper Rock Golf Club in Scottsdale who was making his third appearance in the final stage of qualifying. "I hit it as well as could have from tee to green but I had a hard time adjusting to the Bermuda greens and just didn't make any putts."
Hoops feels every trip to Q-School is a learning experience and the margin of qualifying is getting smaller.
"I play with a lot of great amateurs and pros all year long in tournaments and here at Whisper Rock and anybody can beat anyone of any given day. We all have good days and bad days and we're all human. To be consistently successful, you have to adjust to all of the elements that come your way, which isn't always easy."
Though reaching the Champions Tour remains a goal, Hoops has an excellent perspective on the journey.
"It's not life or death for me," said Hoops. "I have a great life here, my family and business are here so it's not the end of the world. If I make it through one of these years, I'll look at it as a 25-week golf vacation. It's a no-lose situation."
Second Stage Qualifying Report (Nov. 20, 2021)
Two of the nation's top mid-amateurs, Michael Muehr
and Bryan Hoops
, are one step closer to joining the PGA TOUR Champions after both players recently advanced to the second stage of qualifying.
Muehr, a four-time winner of the prestigious Crump Cup, finished third at the Buckhorn Springs Golf and Country Club site in Valrico, Fla. with a score of 14-under 274 on rounds of 69-69-64-72. The native of McLean, Va. finished three strokes behind David Branshaw, who fired a final-round 69 to claim medalist honors.
This past September, Muehr, a reinstated amateur, won the Crump Cup at Pine Valley for the fourth time, adding to his previous titles won in 2008, '14 and '19. Muehr played 72 times on the PGA TOUR from 1995 to 2003 and recorded two top 10 finishes. He played a bit more regularly on the Korn Ferry Tour (121 starts) during that same time period.
Hoops, a five-time winner of the Arizona Mid-Amateur, shot 9-under 275 on rounds of 71-65-71-68 to finish sixth at Primm Valley Golf Club in Nipton, Calif. Mark Walker claimed medalist honors with a 15-under score of 269 (66-68-69-66).
Hoops, a Minnesota native who now calls Tempe, Ariz. home, has played in 11 U.S. Mid-Amateurs and has reached the final 16 on two occasions. Hoops routinely competes against members of both the PGA and Champions Tour at his home club of Whisper Rock, known for having one of the largest rosters of Tour pros as members, including Jon Rahm.
The Final Stage of PGA TOUR Champions Qualifying School will be held Dec. 7-10 in Lutz, Fla.