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Golf: Bradshaw tries again to make Classic field

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - "Close, but no cigar" hasn't hampered David Bradshaw's drive to earn a spot on the PGA Tour.

So, at 30 years old, here Bradshaw stands - the second-winningest player in the West Virginia Open's 80-tournament history - not willing to surrender a dream that took him from Bakerton, to Shepherd College and to San Diego, Calif.

"Never," Bradshaw said. "I'll never give up.

"Look, the average age of a PGA Tour rookie is 31, so I'm a youngster."

The oldest rookie on the PGA Tour this year is David Lynn at 39 years old. Of the 30 PGA Tour rookies in 2013, 12 are at least 31 years old.

Bradshaw, who doesn't turn 31 until next April, will tee it up today on the Cobb Course at The Resort at Glade Springs in Daniels.

This is his fourth try at Monday qualifying for the Greenbrier Classic. Twice he lost in a playoff (2010, '11) and last year missed a playoff by three strokes.

He's been on the brink in West Virginia, but has reached PGA Tour events. Bradshaw last Monday qualified for the Tampa Bay Championship this year, although he missed the cut after a 9-over par in two rounds.

In 2011, he played in The Honda Classic (21-over) and Zurich Classic of New Orleans (10-over), also missing the cut.

Mostly disappointing for Bradshaw is how close he came to achieving Web.com Tour status for completing the second stage of PGA Tour Qualifying School.

However, he won the West Virginia Open for the seventh time this year, securing a $6,000 payday. Last year, he won the Frank B. Fuhrer Invitational in Pittsburgh, which brought him $30,000. Last Wednesday, he finished T2 at the Fuhrer for another $13,000 paycheck.

Last year, the former West Virginia Conference Player of the Year cleared more than $30,000 in earnings after expenses.

He's not getting rich, but Bradshaw can see enough progression to continue his adventure.

"You have to look at it like a business," he said. "If I spent X amount of money, I have to go find it somewhere."

He noted the West Virginia Open as an example.

"(Winning the Open) is not an automatic, but as a professional I finished second twice and had five wins," Bradshaw said. "Essentially, that's $36,000 I pulled out of this tournament."

Bradshaw finished fifth in the eGolf Tour's Spring Creek Classic at Gordonsville, Va., netting him $4,000. He was only three strokes behind winner Bruce Woodall.

"I could've won and I played against 10 players who have played in the U.S. Open," he said. "I was right there. That was a field of 100 D1 college players. As long as I keep getting a little bit better year after year after year. I'm a little bit better putter than I was last year. This year my ball striking has been good. You're not just going to wake up one day and be a different human being."

As for the Greenbrier Classic, Bradshaw holds it in high regard, but not as much as he did in 2010.

"It's as important as a Monday qualifier for a PGA event anywhere," he said. "It's cool because I'm from here, so people would be excited to watch me play. But, for me, the excitement of playing in a PGA Tour event is just playing in a PGA Tour event. They're all the same.

"It's the opportunity to tee it up and gauge myself. How good am I? You have to see what you're up against."

* * *

THE LOW four scores from today fill out the roster for the Greenbrier Classic.

The staff at Glade Springs as well as officials from the Tri-State PGA Section set up today's yardage at 6,969 yards, which makes the course 58 yards shorter than it was on Thursday.

However, No. 2 is being made a 454-yard par 4 hole, taking one stroke off the course's total par today and making it play as a par 71.

Tri-State PGA Tournament Director David Wright said they want to make the open qualifier more challenging, but also maintain pace of play.

"We're looking for the four best golfers," Wright said. "The hole locations are going to be difficult. We're doing a little something different on No. 2. It will play as a par 4 and 454 yards. That will alleviate some pace-of-play issues we had on Thursday."

That won't save the 51 players who advanced through Thursday's long, grueling, wet day in Daniels.

In the three years of the pre-qualifiers and open qualifiers at the Cobb, only two players who have played in Thursday's pre-qualifier have advanced to the Greenbrier Classic.

In 2011, Garrett Frank shot a 74 in the pre-qualifier and followed with a 65 in the open qualifier, avoiding the inevitable playoff for the final spot.

Last year, Michael Maness - once a caddy for Sunday PGA Tour winner Bill Haas (See page 5B) - shot a 66 in the open qualifier after advancing with a 69 in the pre-qualifier.

As for making the cut at the Greenbrier Classic, neither Frank nor Maness played the weekend and just two of the 12 players who advanced via the open qualifier made the cut - Andre Stolz (T49) and Steve Allan (T49) in 2011.

* * *

PARKERSBURG'S ALAN Cooke and China's Ze-cheng Dou represent the only amateurs in today's event.

Dou shot a 2-under 70 on Thursday and is the youngest player in the field at 16 years.

The native of Beijing plays in several American Junior Golf Association events. He also finished 33rd in this year's Volvo China Open, a European Tour championship.

* * *

NOT SURPRISINGLY, the first three open qualifiers have been decided by playoff.

Last year, six players finished at 6-under 66, which required a three-hole finish to shave two participants from the mix.

In 2011, seven players battled for one spot, and in 2010, it was five for one.

Contact Assistant Sports Editor Rich Stevens at richstevens@dailymail.com or 304-348-4837.


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