Vancouver's Stuart Macdonald Breezes His Way Into Final Stage Qualifying At Korn Ferry Tour Q-School

Stuart Macdonald Is Shown Here Competing In The RBC Canadian Open - Image Credit BBrault/Golf Canada

By Brad Ziemer, British Columbia Golf

Stuart Macdonald made it look easy as he sailed through the second stage of Korn Ferry Tour qualifying school in Murrieta, Calif.

But the 27-year-old Vancouver native will tell you it was anything but. Q-school, Macdonald says, is never easy...

“Obviously, it felt good to get through and just be able to battle through everything that comes along with Q-school,” Macdonald told British Columbia Golf in a telephone interview.

“It feels like you are playing for your life, like your life is literally on the line. That’s what it feels like. I couldn’t eat for four hours after I played because your stomach is just in knots and it’s not very fun at all.”

Macdonald tied for third at 14-under par at Bear Creek Golf Club in Murrieta to advance to the final stage of Q-school, which goes Nov. 4-7 in Savannah, Ga. The top 18 and ties advanced from the Murrieta site and Macdonald had eight strokes to spare. Still, he never felt comfortable until his final putt dropped.

“On that golf course in particular, I don’t think you are ever really safe,” he said. “The greens are extremely undulating and it’s a tricky golf course. If you are playing well you can kind of get it, but if you are off a little bit it is going to completely eat you up. Until I was done on 18, I never felt I was in by any stretch.”

Macdonald feasted on the par 5s at Bear Creek, playing them in 13-under par. He likes where his game is at as he heads to final stage. “I am playing pretty good,” he said. “I feel pretty clear mentally, which is probably 80 per cent of playing golf. You make clear decisions and act kind of appropriately when difficult things come your way. The game physically and technically ispretty good, although you obviously are always trying to get better.”

While he’s happy to get to final stage, Macdonald knows there is still work to be done to re-establish himself as a regular on the Korn Ferry Tour. Everyone getting through second stage earns Korn Ferry Tour membership, but getting guaranteed starts is what final stage is all about. 

“I think it is the top 40 who get guaranteed starts,” he said. “I feel like a lot of people are so relieved to get through second stage, which they should be, but they are maybe more excited than they should be because they’ve got status. That’s great, but it doesn’t really mean anything. Unless you finish in the top 50, you are probably not going to get starts. So you obviously really have to play well at final stage.”

Final stage will be held on the Marshwood and Magnolia courses at The Landings Club in Savannah, GA. Macdonald has played a Korn Ferry Tour event at The Landings, but has not played the two courses where Q-school will be contested. “I will definitely go early and give myself ample time before to see them both,” he said. “I am staying with a host family I have stayed with in the past at that tournament, so that will be nice.”

Fellow British Columbian Chris Crisologo of Richmond has also advanced to final stage. Ziggy Nathu of Richmond failed to advance from the Murrieta site that Macdonald played at.

TRIP CANCELLED: Macdonald had also enrolled in the DP Word Tour (formerly European Tour) qualifying school and had advanced to the second stage. That is being played in Spain at the same time as the final stage of the Korn Ferry Tour’s final stage of Q-school, so Macdonald had to withdraw. “It would have been nice if they were at separate times, so you could really have full insurance,” Macdonald said. 

Macdonald played the first stage of the DP Q-school at a site in Denmark in September and had to deal with some challenging weather conditions. “It was brutal,” he said. “I don’t know if I have played in conditions like that since college. It was maybe 8, 9 degrees, windy and rainy. It was one of those weeks where you just have to hold on and accept when a 20-footer for par is a good thing on some of those holes.

“But it was cool to go over there. I hadn’t played golf in Europe and it was cool to see the town we played in and Copenhagen as well. It was a good experience.”