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For Ridings, it's win or go to Q-School

Tag Ridings, Children's Miracle Network Classic, Walt Disney World
John Raoux/AP
Tag Ridings has split time between the PGA Tour and the Nationwide Tour this year.

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) — Tag Ridings didn't show signs of panic on the golf course, perhaps because he is lucky to be at Disney and because he posted a tidy round of 6-under 66 to finish one shot behind Scott Verplank going into the weekend.

He wasn't frazzled by the mention of his precarious position — win or go back to Q-school.

Ridings has been in this position before.

Three years ago, he closed with a 64 in the final PGA Tour event of the year to earn enough money to finish at No. 125 on the money list, keeping his full card. The year after that, he was at No. 125 until a third-place finish in the second-to-last tournament bailed him out.

But this has been a year like no other.

Ridings has split time between the PGA Tour and the Nationwide Tour, often leaving one site to play at another. He played a Nationwide event last week trying to qualify for its Tour Championship. When that didn't pan out, he flew home to Texas since he was the 14th alternate at Disney, only to learn a few days later that he made it in.

"It's been a lot of travel," he said.

The last two rounds of the tour season could turn an arduous trip into a magical one, and there wouldn't be a better place for that to happen at the Children's Miracle Network Classic across the street from the Magic Kingdom.

But it's a long ride.

Verplank ran off six birdies over nine holes on the Magnolia Course before he slowed with nine straight pars for a second straight 66, putting him at 12-under 132 and one shot ahead of Ridings, Stephen Ames (63) and Ryan Armour (64). Eight players were another shot behind, including Justin Leonard and Sean O'Hair.

The field is so bunched, as it always is at Disney, that 89 players from the 132-man field made the cut.

Few of them have had a year like Ridings.

He was 149th on the money list last year, giving him conditional status. That means he had no guarantee when or where he would play, able to get in the tournaments that had room for him. This is his 18th start, which is about what he expected.

But he dabbled on the Nationwide Tour — the top 25 on that money list earn cards — and that led to some strange travel plans.

Ridings went to Knoxville, Tenn., for a Nationwide event in June, while on the alternate list for the PGA Tour stop in Hartford, Conn. Players must commit to either tour by 5 p.m. Wednesday, and he got a call with seconds to spare telling him he got in Hartford.

"Then she called me back two minutes later and said, 'Oh, I forgot to tell you, your tee time is 6:50 a.m. Are you sure you still want to come?"' Ridings said. "Because I'm pushing to try to get 15 starts out here — that's minimum for membership — I drove into Hartford."

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