published Thursday, December 12th, 2013

Fox, Mitchell prepared for mental grind of Q-School

Adam Mitchell and Steven Fox already know they will begin the 2014 season with some status on the Web.com Tour.

Their performance over the next six rounds, the final stage of Web.Com Tour qualifying school, will determine how long they will be exempt.

They'll need to battle the elements, the PGA West Stadium Course in La Quinta, Calif, and most importantly, they'll need to win the battle in their own heads.

"From the start to finish, you have to be emotionally and mentally there," said Mitchell, who played at McCallie in high school. "You have to stay physically and mentally fresh. You can't beat yourself up."

But it's easy to do in a tournament that determines your employment for the next 12 months. Either on the Web.com Tour for part of it, or for at least Mitchell, back to mini-tours across the southeast.

"You don't want to go back to the mini tours," said Mitchell who has spent most of his past four years at that level. "This is not life-changing unless you do something cool.

The winner of the 108-hole tournament will be exempt for the entire year. Those finishing in a tie for ninth or better are exempt until after the third re-shuffle. Those in the top 45 and ties are exempt until the second re-shuffle. And the rest of the field has conditional status.

A re-shuffle is the tour's way of prioritizing which players can play in which tournaments.

"My goals this week is winning," said Fox, who played four years at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. "You don't want to set a goal of top 50 or something. Set it for winning."

This will be the first year either Fox or Mitchell have participated in the final stage of Q-school -- which used to award status on the PGA Tour until this year.

But they've both had success in the U.S. Amateur which is a different grueling mental tournament. Fox won it in 2012 at Cherry Hills in a playoff. Mitchell reached the semifinals in 2008 at Pinehurst No. 2.

"Half the battle this week is the mental game," Fox said. "There's no other event where you play six rounds. You have to know it's not a sprint. I think if you put 2 to 3 under on the board each day, you'll be a happy camper at the end of the week."

It is a long week in what can be a long process to playing on the PGA Tour.

"It's another step to where I want to be," Mitchell said. "I want to be on this tour because I want to be playing up top."

Contact David Uchiyama at duchiyama@timesfreepress.com or at 423-757-6484. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/UchiyamaCTFP.

about David Uchiyama...

David Uchiyama is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who began his tenure here in May 2001. His primary beats are UTC athletics — specifically men’s basketball and athletic department administration — and golf, which includes coverage from the PGA Tour to youth events. He also covers other high school sports, outdoor adventures, and contributes to other sections of the newspaper when necessary. David grew up in Salinas, Calif., and began working ...

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