Dayton to host PGA qualifier

Dayton Valley Country Club has established itself as one of the most respected golf courses in the country when it comes to qualifying for the PGA tour.

For the seventh straight year, Dayton will host the first stage of PGA qualifying next week. Practice rounds will be held on Sunday and Monday with the four-round qualifying event to be held from Tuesday, Oct. 16 through Friday, Oct. 19. Tee off for each round is set at 9:30 a.m.

There will be 78 players who will compete in this year's event, hoping to begin a trip that will lead to a spot on the PGA tour, or at least a shot at playing on the Buy.Com tour. About the top 30 percent of the players at Dayton are expected to move on to the second stage of qualifying.

The top players in the second stage of qualifying will move on to the qualifying school where they will have a chance to make the PGA tour.

Dayton manager Jim Kepler said his course has the longest continous run of hosting a PGA qualifying event.

"It's an honor for us and it's an honor for my staff and it's great for the area," Kepler said.

Kepler said the players that qualify and the PGA like the quality of the Dayton course. "It's one of the golf courses that's a true test," Kepler said.

Kepler said the PGA likes the course because it presents PGA-type conditions and it's fair. The quality of players in the event has improve each year, with a score normally of -3 or -4-under par needed to move on to the next level. The average score of all the players who participate in the event has stayed at around par over the years.

"They've raised the bar every year," said Kepler about what it takes to move on.

Kepler said the PGA likes the fact that players need to be able to control the ball at Dayton and need to play from left to right and right to left.

"That's what they look for for players to get on the tour," he said.

The speed of the greens is another feature of Dayton the PGA likes, Kepler said.

"Each year the field gets stronger and stronger," Kepler said. "There's more opportunity for players to make money."

But Kepler has said the most difficult task in sports is still to make the PGA tour.

Kepler noted that one bad shot at Dayton could be all it takes to prevent a player from moving on to the next level. "That's a pretty scary way to play golf," he said.

Judging by those who have played in the past, players who go through Dayton traditionally do well at the next levels.

Among the notables who have gone through Dayton include Casey Martin, former Reno-Tahoe Open champion Notah Begay and Bob May.

Players from all over the world come to Dayton. Among the top players who will play at Dayton next week is George Tech four-time All-American Bryce Molder.

"They can play anywhere they want," said Kepler about the players who choose Dayton. "They know the golf course is going to be fair. It's going to be the conditions they face on the tour."

Last year, players had to walk through the entire tournament at Dayton. This year, players will also have to walk during the practice rounds.

"They want the players to be aware this is a walking game," Kepler said.

--Charles Whisnand is the Nevada Appeal Sports Editor.

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