Dylan Wu woke up to nasty weather conditions in McKinney, Texas, Friday, which isn’t something most golfers embrace.
But he was happy.
“It’s the kind of weather I like,” said the budding professional golfer from Medford. “Growing up in Oregon, but also playing a lot of golf in Chicago in the spring and winter in tough conditions, I knew it was going to be tough.”
Not so much that it deterred him.
The former St. Mary’s and Northwestern University standout advanced through the second stage of the Web.com Tour Qualifying Tournament to earn a spot in the final stage and secure status on the Web.com Tour in 2019.
Wu played the last seven holes in 3 under par at TPC Craig Ranch to tie for 17th place in the four-round tournament. The top 19 players and ties earned berths in the final stage Dec. 6-9 at Whirlwind Golf Club in Chandler, Arizona.
Wu made it on the number as one of three players with 9-under totals of 279.
With his brother, Jeremy, serving as his caddie for the second straight stage, Wu shot rounds of 71, 68, 69 and 71 on the par-72 layout.
The morning temperature was in the low 40s and winds were up to 20 mph, said Wu. He knew if he stayed patient and persevered, he could remain in contention.
“I think in tough conditions, better players thrive,” said the former two-time state champion at St. Mary’s, who finished his senior season at Northwestern in May and joined the Mackenzie pro tour in Canada.
“When the conditions are good, you hit driver everywhere, wedge it close and make putts. You don’t really have to control your ball. When you’re playing in the wind and really have to control your ball, and it’s cold, it definitely shows who the best players are that week.”
Each of the 150 or so players who complete the final stage is guaranteed some status on the Web.com. How they fare in the finals determines how much they have.
The finals medalist will be exempt for the year. The rest of the top 10 and ties earn prize money and are exempt until the third periodic rankings reshuffling. Those in the top 40 are exempt until the second reshuffling.
“The top 10 would be a great goal,” said Wu.
Playing the Mackenzie Tour, an arm of the PGA, gave Wu an understanding of the day-to-day grind of pro golf and buoyed him for Q school. In the first stage a month ago at The Woodlands Golf Club in Texas, he started fast, tied for second and didn’t have to sweat it out.
This week, he ran into far more accomplished players. Three in the field — Tag Ridings, Roland Thatcher and John Merrick — are PGA Tour veterans with about four decades of pro experience.
A turning point for Wu, who chose the Texas sites each time because they were closest to his Chicago home, came midway through Round 2. He opened with nine pars, then made his first bogey of the tournament at No. 10.
However, five birdies over the final eight holes, including four straight starting at No. 12, were a springboard.
“That really kind of helped boost me to get near the number to advance,” he said.
He held serve with Thursday’s 69, and, after going 2 over through 10 on Friday, started another finishing stretch.
Wu made a two-putt birdie from 50 feet No. 12, drained a 25-footer for birdie at 15 and got up and down with a 9-foot par putt at 16.
He needed another par save at 17 after his 8-iron on the downwind, 180-yard par 3, sailed long and into rough. He almost holed the short-sided chip.
With one hole to play, he asked his brother for scores and where he stood. At 8 under, Wu knew he was close, but with No. 18 being a with-the-wind par 5, birdies likely would be abundant.
“I really wanted to make eagle,” he said.
His drive on the 552-yard hole split the fairway, and his 5-iron from 230 yards left him 20 feet for eagle. He barely missed the putt right, but had a tap-in birdie.
“That was probably my best hole of the week,” he said. “I told (Jeremy) after the round, I played really well the last eight holes. If I happen to make it, that’s great. But there’s not much else I could do. I’m really happy and pleased with the way I finished.”
Wu plans to move to Scottsdale, Arizona, in mid-December. Chicago got its first snow of the year Friday, he said, so he’ll work on his game indoors at Northwestern and will likely make a couple trips to Arizona for practice prior to the final stage.
Reach sports editor Tim Trower at 541-776-4479 or email@example.com