November 17, 2013

Former Catamount Matt Hughes earns status on web.com Tour

Chris Whitfield
chriswhitfield@daltoncitizen.com

— Standing on the outside looking in, former Dalton High and Alabama golfer Matt Hughes settled over his first tee shot Friday morning in the final round of the second stage of qualifying for the web.com Tour.

It turned into the most important and “maybe the best” 18 holes in his career.

Starting the day a shot out of the top 20, Hughes shot a 5-under-par 67 at Deerwood Golf Club in Kingwood, Texas in the fourth round of the stage to earn a spot in the Q-School finals in December at PGA West. His 2-under score for the tournament put him in a tie for eighth with the top 20 advancing to the finals Dec. 12-17. By advancing to the finals of qualifying, Hughes will have status on the web.com Tour — the developmental tour for the PGA Tour.

This is the fourth time Hughes has attempted to complete the rigors of Q-School, which includes three rounds of qualifying this year. Players who finish in the top 45 after six rounds at PGA West in the finals will earn full exemption onto the web.com Tour. The remaining finals participants will earn varying degrees of entries into tour events.

Either way, Hughes says he has taken his biggest step forward in his professional career.

“I think the second stage of qualifying is the most important,” Hughes said. “Even if you finish last, you earn some sort of status on the web.com Tour. And with that comes real equipment deal contracts and endorsements. I, at least, have a status and can only better my situation from here on out.”

Hughes has spent the last four years playing “on just about every tour there is out there.” He recently moved back to Dalton after living in Mississippi. He has played in tournaments in Colorado, on the Peach State Tour and various other tours across the South.

After shooting a 75 in the opening round of the tournament, Hughes followed with a 69 on Wednesday and another 75 on Thursday and stood at 3-over. He responded on Friday with a round that was bogey free with an eagle on the 565-yard, par-5 14th and three birdies.

“I knew I had to play well,” Hughes said. “All things considered, as far as the situation and what was on the line, it was definitely the most important and maybe the best round of golf I have ever played. I was able to handle the moment and still be able to play well and execute.”