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December 4, 2012

Last one of its kind

LA QUINTA, Calif. — D.H. Lee of South Korea wiped away a single tear when he realized he had earned a job on the PGA Tour. Moments later, Edward Loar stood tall as he spoke about two shots into the water on the last two holes at Q-school that sent him back to the minor leagues.

Amid this familiar contrast of emotions, a sense of nostalgia swept across the California desert late Monday afternoon.

“To get this one is extra special, knowing that next year guys won’t have this opportunity,” said Scott Langley, one of 25 players who earned cards in the final edition of this six-round tournament that offers a ticket to the richest tour in golf.

The PGA Tour next year will end a half-century of tradition when Q-school will only provide cards to the secondary Web.com Tour.

The PGA Tour is changing its structure to make it more competitive than ever. The players who failed to reach the FedEx Cup playoffs will meet in a series of four tournaments called “The Finals,” and the 25 players who earn the most money from those events will get their cards

That was on the mind of so many players who sweated out six days over two golf courses at PGA West.

Lee birdied his last three holes for a 5-under 67 on the Stadium Course to win Q-school, which gives him the highest priority of the 25 players who earned cards, along with a $50,000 first-place check. Ross Fisher of England, who won two matches at the Ryder Cup two years ago in Wales, was among those who finished one shot behind.

Fisher has played plenty in America, mostly the majors and World Golf Championships because of his world ranking. But when he heard about the PGA Tour’s change, he skipped the season-ending European Tour event in Dubai to get ready for Q-school.

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