Uploaded: Tuesday, January 29, 2013, 8:56 PM
Yun returns from Q-School for another year
|By Estela-Marie Go
The decision to compete in the 2012 PGA Q-School and take a leave of absence fall quarter his senior year at Stanford appeared to be a win-win for Andrew Yun.
If he graduates Q-School, he receives a 2013 PGA Tour card. If he doesn't, he returns winter quarter, competes collegiately to defend his Pac-12 title and graduates on time with a bachelor's degree in sociology.
For Yun, who was coming right off college, he had to start in the beginning of Q-School's 17-round process. He had no exemptions and no conditional status to fall back on.
Yun advanced the pre-qualifying and first stage rounds with two second-place finishes where he shot 11-under par (67-72-66-205) at PGA West and 9-under par (69-68-72-70-279) at Oak Valley Golf Club, respectively.
But it was in the second stage at Bear Creek Golf Club when Andrew Yun missed advancing after a 61st finish, 8-over par (76-72-78-70-296).
"My goal was to make it but I had to take it step by step," said Yun. "I didn't play my best golf this summer so it was an unsettling feeling. I was very anxious, nervous, and worried. But I worked really hard on my game. I spent seven or eight hours a day practicing."
The Q-School decided this would be the final year the program would lead to direct access to the PGA Tour, a system that has been in place since 1965.
Future Q-Schools would grant access to the Web.com Tour and PGA tour cards would only be given to top money winners in a three-tournament series called the Web.com Tour Finals.
When the rule was set in place, Yun like many collegiate standouts were enticed to participate in this once romanticized pathway into the prestigious PGA Tour.
"The biggest thing was that they were changing the rules," said Yun on his decision to go to Q-School. "That's when I started discussing it with my family and coaches. We judged the pros and cons of it all [and we went through all the scenarios."
His coaches and team naturally were, at first, devastated. But they understood.
"In coaches' minds and experiences, the balance will always be firmly tipped in favor of graduation sooner than postponed and this was our message," said Cardinal assistant coach Philip Rowe. "We also shared data showing that players passing via the Web.com Tour (division below PGA Tour) onto the PGA Tour have significantly greater retention rates, [which in other words [means the PGA Tour made the changes for a reason so we [were keen to know Andrew's decision was not a hasty one. It was not."
Yun, while mindful to the risks he was taking, made the decision for himself and chased after the allure of going onto the PGA Tour a year earlier than expected.
Every day all summer, Yun woke up at 5:30 a.m. and ate breakfast. By 6:30 a.m., he and his sister, Christy, drove over to the Whirlwind Golf Resort 10 minutes away. There they would hit balls, putt, chip and work on whatever areas of the game he saw needed improvement. By noon, a 30-minute lunch and then off to play nine or 18 holes depending on the time. They worked out at the gym at four, washed up by five and came home for a family dinner at six.
"My weaknesses were in driving so I worked on that for Q-School," said Yun, whose strength lies in his short game. "Growing up, the courses were a little bit long for me and so I always had to rely on my short game to manage a score."
Christy, a professional golfer, found summer to be a perfect time to help her brother improve his game and bond with him the way they did growing up playing golf together.
"I would get frustrated with him and his crazy imagination when we played games while practicing," said Christy about Yun when they were younger. "When we played chipping games he would have us chip by placing the ball on top of a Gatorade bottle or off the fence. I would tell him, `This would NEVER happen! Why are we doing this?' His response always was, `You never know. Now that you tried it, you'll know what to do in this situation.'"
Yun began playing golf when he was seven. By 14, he convinced his family to move from Tacoma, Wash., to Chandler, Ariz., so he could play more golf in better weather. Then at 21, he made the striking decision to compete in the Q-School to then return to Stanford.
"Being at Stanford for these past three years, you just get acclimated to school, friends, and golf," said Yun. "At the PGA Q-School, you focus solely on golf. Everything else takes a backseat in your life. Spending 100 percent of my attention on golf was a very new and good experience."
With a full winter and spring course load at 18 units a piece, Yun has once again began juggling school, friends, and golf. This past week, he finished first with a cumulative score of 6-under par in the team qualifying rounds to the Amer Ari Invitational in Hawaii for the spring opener.
"Andrew's strengths are the short game and putting," said junior Cameron Wilson, who also qualified for Hawaii after an even-par third place finish. "He makes very few mistakes from inside of 100 yards. Some of his most impressive rounds are when his ball striking is off but he manages his game well and relies on his wedge play and putting. He also has the potential to shoot some very low rounds because he doesn't get nervous or protective once he makes a few early birdies."
A quarter away from Stanford and the team proved promising to Yun.
"It's not me trying to make the perfect swing; it's just me being consistent with what I have, knowing what to expect when I hit the ball," said Yun on what he learned from Q-School. "That's what I'm trying to focus my identity toward and being a little bit more consistent in that."
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