Athens golfer swings for tour card
Medley in PGA’s Q-school first-stage event Wednesday
By Michael Wetzel
He’s heard the horror stories. He knows it’ll be a pressure-cooker.
So what does Athens golfer Andrew Medley plan to do special when he tees off in the grueling PGA qualifying school first-stage event Wednesday?
“I’m not changing anything,” said Medley, who will continue his quest for a PGA Tour card in Durham, N.C., in three days.
“I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing. I’ve been playing some of the best golf I’ve ever played. I’m seeing some serious improvement in my game in the past couple of months.”
Medley finished four years of golfing for Auburn University in June. He said playing for the Tigers was like a dream come true, but he was disappointed in his college numbers.
“I’m actually kind of embarrassed and frustrated with my college scores, especially my final year,” Medley said. “Playing for Coach (Mike) Griffin and for Auburn was big. It was a wonderful experience.
“I just didn’t play the way I wanted to play at Auburn. But I was able to grow up and mature a lot at Auburn. At Auburn, the experience goes way beyond being a golfer.”
Medley, who won the Class 5A individual championship while at Athens High, said wayward tee shots got him in trouble his senior year in college.
Auburn’s lone senior last year, Medley
had a 74.85-stroke average, fifth best on the team.
“I was all over the place with my tee balls, and had to use my short game to save me,” he said.
But he didn’t say goodbye to Auburn on a down note. In his final round of college golf, Medley fired a 2-under 68 at the NCAA championships in Williamsburg, Va.
The son of Jim and Lisa Medley of Athens, he carried that confidence into a pro career, which saw him make three cuts in three NGA/Hooters tournaments in late summer.
Medley said that in his third pro outing, he even surprised himself, winning the Michelob Ultra Classic in Little River, S.C., on Sept. 6-9.
He pocketed more than $40,000 in those pro events. He said straighter tee shots and swing coach Will Blackmon made the difference.
“Will is big in confidence,” Medley, 23, said. “He played at Auburn. He played on the mini-tours. He’s has experience of playing professionally and he has given me trust in my own game.”
Medley said the win in South Carolina takes some pressure away with Q-school arriving.
“I’ve got a job next year playing golf,” he said, referring to his full-exempt status on the 2008 Hooters Tour with the victory. “Now, I’m just playing golf for a better job.
“There’s definitely pressure in Q-school. The golf I play in the next couple of months will be setting up the whole next year for me, but I am not putting extra pressure on myself. I will be prepared. But it’s a nice feeling to know I’m playing better when there’s money on the line.”
Medley selected Durham’s Trevburn Country Club Q-school site after he finished 11th in the pre-qualification event in Bogart, Ga. His 3-over 274 (74-68-79-70) earned him a spot in first-stage qualifying.
He said he chose the tough Trevburn layout that he’s never played nor seen for a simple reason: It’s tough.
“If I’m playing good, I want to be rewarded,” he said. “It will allow me to get some separation from the golfers who aren’t playing that well.”
He leaves Auburn on Sunday and plans to play practice rounds Monday and Tuesday. When he tees off Wednesday, he won’t be alone. His caddy is his good friend Michael Daniels of Decatur.
Daniels played at Auburn and won the 2002 Class 6A golf championship while playing for Decatur High. Medley won his 5A championship that same year.
“Michael knows my game,” Medley said. “We’re best buddies, and we’ve played a ton of golf together.”
About the top 30 golfers after four rounds of the par-72 Durham course will join qualifiers from nine other sites for second-stage play at six courses across the country Nov. 14-17. Final-stage qualifiers will play six rounds on the Orange County National Golf Center in Winter Garden, Fla., for spots on the PGA Tour and Nationwide Tour.
And what’s the best advice he’s been given about Q-school?
“It’s a marathon, not a sprint,” he said.
“I have to play one shot at a time and stay patient.”
Andrew Medley at a glance
Prep: Athens High
Won 2002 Class 5A individual championship as a senior.
Won 2001 and 2002 Alabama State Junior Championships.
2002-03: Had 74.91 stroke average. Played nine rounds.
2003-04: Had 74.18 stroke average. Played 38 rounds.
2005-06: Had 73.23 average, second best on the team. Played 27 rounds.
2006-07: Had 74.85 average. Shot 68 in his final round as a collegian at the NCAA championships.
Won 2007 NGA Hooters Michelob Ultra Classic in Little River, S.C., earning $34,238.
24th on 2007 Hooters Tour money list with $40,922.50 in three tournaments.
Family: Parents, Jim and Lisa Medley of Athens; sister, Lisa; brother, James.
Favorite golfers: Tiger Woods, Fred Couples.
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