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Carbondale golf pro taking shot at the PGA Tour

When Doug Rohrbaugh teed off in Dayton, Nev., Tuesday, the sky was the limit.

Rohrbaugh, the director of instruction at River Valley Ranch in Carbondale, is one of about 800 players attending PGA Tour School this year. Also known as qualifying school or “Q-school,” it’s how the nation’s top golfers earn their way onto the PGA and Buy.com tours.

“They call it school, but really it has nothing to do with school,” said Rohrbaugh, 40, who’s also the golf coach at Basalt High. “It’s a great big tournament.”



Eventually, after three stages and 14 rounds of golf, 35 players will receive PGA Tour cards, 70 players will get Buy.com cards and another 100 will walk away with conditional Buy.com cards.

Stage 1 events are held at a dozen sites throughout the U.S. – in Rohrbaugh’s case, Tuesday through Friday at the Dayton Valley Golf Course near Reno, Nev. At each Q-school preliminary, eighty players face off in tournament play over four rounds, with the top 20 to 25 advancing to Stage 2.



Stage 2 is another four-round tournament, this time at fewer sites with about 100 players in each field. Once again, the top 25 advance, this time to the finals – a six-round tournament with a field of 200 and tour cards on the line.

“As you can imagine, it gets tougher and tougher. Plus, you’ve got players who were on The Tour last year and didn’t finish in the top 125 (to earn automatic cards in 2003), and also players from the Buy.com tour,” Rohrbaugh said. “The key is getting to the final so you get some kind of card.”

Last year, Rohrbaugh missed the cut for Stage 2 by two strokes, finishing 27th in the opening stage.

“I’d gone (to Q-school many years before when I had no business. It wasn’t until last year, and this year, that I think I have a chance,” he said.

In late September on his home course, Rohrbaugh won the West Chapter PGA Championship for a third straight year, this time by a whopping seven strokes, 67-66-133. And Rohrbaugh played in the National Club Pro Championship, Western Region, in Salt Lake City, last weekend.

“Playing as much tournament golf as I can – that’s the best way for me to prepare” for Q-school, Rohrbaugh said.

“I go in with the attitude that it’s a regular tournament, with the idea of winning – because if I’m that close, I’ll be OK.”


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