Zack Fischer chuckled on the other end of the line when told that he won Q-school a year too late.
Arguably the toughest and most mentally draining golf tournament outside of the major championships, in years past the six-round qualifying tournament had been a way for players to earn their way onto the PGA Tour.
And this year the 24-year-old Fischer, who played at UT Arlington from 2007-11, persevered despite a rough opening round and ended up winning the 108-hole event last week by two strokes over Scott Pinckney.
In past years, he’d be playing to earn a PGA Tour card, but that incentive no longer exists. Now, Q-school only guarantees privileges for the secondary circuit Web.com Tour, which prides itself as grooming golf’s future stars.
So did Fischer win it a year too late?
“Yeah, absolutely I did,” Fischer said through a laugh. “But the Lord has a plan. And the Web.com Tour is great and it’d be really cool if I can be in one of those commercials where it says, ‘I started on the Web.com Tour.’”
The PGA Tour altered Q-school qualifying priviliges because of the Web.com Tour’s success producing golfers for the PGA Tour. Fischer, from Texarkana, is now in great position to earn a PGA Tour card.
If a player wins three times on the Web.com Tour in a season, he automatically joins the PGA Tour. The top 25 on the Web.com Tour money list at the end of next season will earn a PGA Tour card for 2015.
The Q-school victory ranks as the top achievement to date for Fischer, who qualified for the U.S. Open and made the cut at the HP Byron Nelson Championship last year.
Fischer started Q-school slowly with a 3-over 75, bogeying three of his final six holes on the PGA West Stadium Course in La Quinta, Calif.
At that point, Fischer said, he felt he had played himself out of the tournament. He wasn’t playing as poorly as his scorecard suggested, but he wasn’t catching breaks or making putts.
He bounced back in the second round at the PGA West Jack Nicklaus Course with a stretch of birdie-birdie-eagle on the front nine. Fischer closed with two birdies and a bogey on the back nine for a 5-under 67.
It kept getting better as he alternated between the Stadium Course and Nicklaus Course. Fischer shot a 6-under 66 in Round 3, a 7-under 65 in Round 4 and then put together consecutive 8-under 64s to close it out.
Fischer had a bogey-free round on his final day Dec. 14. He birdied four straight at one point, and then capped his round with a birdie-birdie finish at 31-under 401 for the six-round tournament.
“I struck the ball well every day and then finally started making a good handful of 8- to 10-foot putts,” Fischer said. “In the fifth round, I hit 17 greens which is the best my ball-striking has ever been.
“And the two eagles I made during the tournament were putts from within five feet. So the ball-striking was the best thing I had going for me.”
Fischer celebrated his memorable victory by grilling out with a few friends before going to bed. Unfortunately, he couldn’t sleep in too long the next morning, as he had an orientation session for the Web.com Tour.
Still, he had no complaints.
“Obviously the biggest win I’ve ever had in my life,” Fischer said. “It still hasn’t hit me or sunk in. I’m still so tired from 108 holes. It was definitely a grueling test.”
Winning Q-school is quite an accomplishment for Fischer, as well as UTA. Fischer proudly has the UTA logo on his golf bag and his driver cover is UTA’s mascot, Blaze the Maverick.
Nobody was more proud of Fischer’s win than UTA golf coach Jay Rees.
“This is just the first step of what I believe will be a great professional golf career,” Rees said. “He’ll go down as one of the best to ever play at UTA. The Web.com Tour is home to the future stars of golf and I truly believe Zack Fischer has everything it takes to win there and then go on to play on the PGA Tour and win on the PGA Tour.”