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Dec 3, 2012

Bowditch back from brink of PGA infamy

After six holes on the final day overnight leader Steven Bowditch was in danger of suffering the last of many infamous collapses at the US PGA Tour qualifying school.

Having lost one ball in a resident's backyard and two more in water hazards, Bowditch went from leading the last-ever Q-school tournament by one stroke to being only two shots inside the top-25 tour card mark.

The 29-year-old Queenslander admitted thinking this wasn't going to be his day as he walked to the seventh hole.

"I said to my caddie 'What I'm going through right now, I wouldn't wish that on anyone'," Bowditch said.

"I have played a lot of golf now and won some tournaments, thrown a few away but, to be honest, I have never felt like that on a golf course."

Since 1965, the US Tour has offered cards to the richest tour in golf to any player good enough to get through multiple stages of qualifying.

But Q-School is due to be replaced from next year by a playoff series between struggling PGA tour players and surging secondary web.com tour golfers.

There have been many success stories and five times as many heartache tales.

Fellow Australian Mat Goggin joined the heartache list when he missed out by just a single shot, finishing tied 27th.

But given Bowditch's position to start the day, one clear at the top and with an eight-shot cushion to 25th spot, had he tumbled further, instead of steadying the ship as he did to tie for 10th, it would have been folklore.

"I can't turn off those thoughts, the negative ones," admitted Bowditch, who suffers clinical depression.

"But I have figured out I need to let myself just think them.

"But when it's time to hit my golf shots, I need to then refocus and think clearly about fairways and greens and birdies.

"I am never going to stop those negative thoughts - it's just part of it. I just know I have to persevere and work through it."

With water on the last two holes, the Queenslander didn't really feel comfortable until he stiffed his nine-iron tee shot on the par-three 17th island green to five feet and rolled in the putt to create a four-shot cushion to the number.

After the round, he was still in semi-shock.

"I had been playing well, hadn't really had a bad round all week and then, out of nowhere, it started to fall apart," he said.

"I hit it terrible and could never get my swing in a decent rhythm, visualisation was gone, nothing was there, but I just made so many putts, shot 74 and hung in there.

"Everyone goes through rounds like that but it was certainly unfortunate for mine to turn up at this minute.

"Getting through the back nine was brutal and the nine iron to the 17th was the hardest nine iron I've hit in my life.

"But I am ecstatic to get my card back and am looking forward to the Australian Open this week and then the new season."

Matt Jones was the only other Australian to qualify in the top 25 in a tie for 14th and he joins Bowditch, plus Adam Scott, Jason Day, John Senden, Geoff Ogilvy, Greg Chalmers, Aaron Baddeley, Marc Leishman, Robert Allenby, Stuart Appleby, Scott Gardiner, Cameron Percy and Alistair Presnell with full status on the 2013 PGA Tour.

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