While the remaining 100 players in the PGA Tour playoffs head into the Deutsche Bank Championship on Friday, dozens of talented golfers are gathered in Fort Wayne, Ind., in a much more humble pursuit: jobs.
The Hotel Fitness Championship this weekend brings together the players who were Nos. 126 to 200 in the FedEx Cup, and the top 75 players from the Web.com Tour money list.
It is the first of four events that essentially serve as Q-school stretched over a month instead of six days.
The leading 25 players on the money list from the four tournaments will earn PGA Tour privileges.
Scott McCarron, 48, took the first-round lead Thursday with an 8-under-par 64 that featured eight birdies, an eagle and two bogeys.
McCarron, a three-time winner on the PGA Tour, is in the field on a special medical exemption after finishing 250th in the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup standings.
“It’s been a long time since I played some good golf,” said McCarron, who suffered a thumb injury earlier this year. “But I still know how to.”
Also in the field are Olympia’s Andres Gonzales (70), Tacoma brothers Michael Putnam (70 and Andrew Putnam (67)and UW alum Alex Prugh (69). Michael Putnam, the Web.com Tour’s leading money winner, is already assured of advancing.
TEEN LEADS IN PORTLAND
A veteran at age 18, Lexi Thompson led the birdie parade with a 7-under-par 65 to take a one-stroke after the first round of the LPGA Safeway Classic at Columbia Edgewater Country Club in Portland.
Thompson had an eagle and six birdies and played the four par-5s in 4-under.
Germany’s Sandra Gal stood second at 66 after seven birdies.
COUNT WOODS IN
Tiger Woods, who had planned to take it easy during the pro-am at the Deutsche Bank Championship in Norton, Mass., said his back felt so good he played all 18 holes.
It was far different from four days ago, when he dropped to his knees with a back spasm after one errant shot in The Barclays.
The Deutsche Bank Championship starts Friday, and Woods plans to play.
Ex-Mariners pitcher Erik Hanson (1988-93), from Kirkland, was the medalist with a 3-under 67 in the U.S. Mid-Amateur qualifier at RMG Club at Oakbrook. Kenney Ebalo (68), from Las Vegas, earned the other spot from the Northwest. … Espen Kofstad of Norway closed his round with three birdies and an eagle, shooting a 7-under 64 to take a two-stroke lead after the first day of the Wales Open.
TRACKING LOCALS ON THE PGA TOUR
This week: Deutsche Bank Championship, Friday through Monday, TPC Boston, Norton, Mass.
In the field: Puyallup’s Ryan Moore and Gig Harbor’s Kyle Stanley.
World rankings: Moore is 45th, and Stanley is 73rd.
2013 earnings: Stanley has $1.46 million (56th on the PGA Tour), and Moore has $1.30 million (66th on the PGA Tour).
2013 FedEx Cup playoff standings: Moore has 865 points (53rd) and Stanley has 759 points (66th).
Last tournament: The top 70 advance from this second FedEx Cup playoff event, so neither local has much room to falter this week if he wants to remain in the hunt. After struggling at this tournament for much of four seasons (2007-2010), Moore has registered a pair of top-10 finishes to buoy his playoff standing. Last year was his best scoring at 10-under 274. … Stanley really has no margin for error this week sitting at No. 66. He needs an effort closer to his 2011 showing (tied for 10th) than last year (tied for 42nd).
Tee times Friday: Stanley at 9:10 a.m. PDT off the 10th tee, and Moore at 9:22 a.m. PDT off the first firstname.lastname@example.org