Canadians Brad Fritsch, Adam Hadwin and Stuart Anderson defied the heavy wind in La Quinta, Calif., on Thursday to climb into the magical top 25 at the PGA Tour's qualifying tournament.
Fritsch of Ottawa had the low score among the nine-man Canadian contingent, firing a five-under-par 67 in difficult conditions to leap 92 spots on the leaderboard and into a tie for 15th place with Hadwin and four others. Hadwin of Abbotsford, B.C., shot three-under 69. The two Canadian Tour regulars were both playing the Nicklaus Tournament course, one of two layouts used at Q-school and the easier of the two.
Their two-day total of five-under 139 left them five shots behind leader Will Claxton of the United States.
Harris English, the only other man in the field to match Fritsch's 67 Thursday, and Matt Jones were tied for second at nine under.
Stuart Anderson of Sooke, B.C., also improved his standing dramatically, rising 40 spots into a share of 21st after shooting a second-consecutive 70. He was playing on the Stadium course.
All three Canadians can earn a full-time gig on the PGA Tour in 2012 if they maintain their positions through the final round of the 108-hole Q-school, which ends Monday. The top 25 earn cards, while the next 50 earn full-time status on the lower tier Nationwide Tour.
Two other Canadians weren't far out of the mix. Three-time Canadian Amateur champion Richard Scott of Kingsville, Ont., and James Love of Calgary were among a group at two under, tied for 47th place.
The rest of the Canadian contingent has some work to do over the next four rounds if they hope to join the PGA Tour -- or even the Nationwide full-time.
Ryan Yip of Calgary fell 82 spots on the board after shooting 78. He was tied for 108th at two over.
Mitch Gillis of Williams Lake, B.C., was tied for 133rd at four over and Richard T. Lee of Vancouver was another six shots back, sharing 166th.
Matt McQuillan of Kingston had a disastrous day at the Stadium course, shooting 81 to fall to 170th in the 171-man field. He was at 11 over. However, he fared decently in his rookie season on the PGA Tour this year, finishing 137th on the money list and ensuring himself of at least part-time status on the big circuit next year regardless of how he finishes this week in La Quinta.
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