A bogey at the final hole wasn’t part of the plan but West Australian Stephen Leaney has secured a return to the Champions Tour in 2020 courtesy of his top-five finish at Final Stage of Q School in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Setting a cracking early pace at the TPC Scottsdale Champions course with rounds of 65-66, Leaney began the final round tied for second and with a fully exempt season on the line.
Back-to-back bogeys at nine and 10 had Leaney positioned to snare one of just five cards up for grabs before a slight stumble at the difficult par-4 11th.
He bounced back with a birdie at the par-4 14th but had to endure a somewhat anxious wait when he dropped a shot at the 18th, his four-round total of 12-under good enough for a tie for fourth and a full schedule in 2020.
“Thanks to everyone for the wishes this week, managed to get my card back at Champions Q school,” Leaney posted on Twitter.
“Stressful week but I love it.”
Runner-up at the 2003 US Open, Leaney turned 50 in March and immediately began making an impression on the US Seniors circuit, finishing tied for 10th in his second start at the Mitsubishi Electric Classic and adding two further top-10s to be 56th in the Charles Schwab Cup from just 15 starts.
Shane Bertsch, Thai legend Thongchai Jaidee, Sweden’s Robert Karlsson and American Robin Byrd claimed the other four cards on offer at Q School while New Zealand US Open champion Michael Campbell is exempt from pre-qualifying for Open Qualifiers in 2020 by virtue of his tie for 27th. Fellow Kiwis Grant Waite and Paul Parlane were tied for 45th and tied for 56th respectively.
Champions Tour Q School Final Stage
TPC Scottsdale (Champions), Scottsdale, Arizona
T4 Stephen Leaney 65-66-71-70—272
T27 Michael Campbell 72-71-67-70—280
T45 Grant Waite 68-74-72-70—284
T56 Paul Parlane 78-73-67-70—288