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

He had a choice of two flights, one that got him in after midnight. Driving to his hotel, a traffic accident shut down the highway, so he took an exit through the seedy part of town.

"There's this Lexus parked in the middle of the street and flashers are going," he said. "Then I see this guy walking down the hill toward this car. He's got diamonds in his teeth and the big chain, and he's counting a wad full of cash. And he's got something on his hip, and I'm not sure what it was because it was real dark, and I didn't stop."

How did he do that week?

"I missed the cut," he said with a smile.

Imagine what a victory would mean — a two-year exemption on the PGA Tour, not to mention the $810,000 check. Even finishing in second place by himself would allow him to skip the second stage of Q-school next week.

"At least I have a chance on the weekend," he said. "But I'm not really thinking of anything besides just playing this tournament."

There's a lot on everyone's mind at the CMN Classic, the final event of the PGA Tour season.

Leonard (67) and O'Hair (66) have a shot at finishing in the top 30 on the money list to qualify for the Masters. The stronger focus is on those trying to finish in the top 125 to keep their cards, or the top 150 to try to get into as many events as they can, which is what Ridings faced this year. It's not the best scenario, but it's better than nothing.

Ted Purdy was the bubble boy at No. 125, but not for long. He made a meaningless birdie on the last hole for a 73 and missed the cut by two shots, meaning he is assured of finishing out of the top 125. Purdy was 110th on the money list when the Fall Series began, played all seven events and still didn't make it.

"I'm just tired," he said. "It's been a long seven weeks. I knew what I needed to do and just didn't do it."

Also going home is 16-year-old Tadd Fujikawa of Hawaii. He shot 72 for a 1-under 143, also missing by two shots.

But there was some tremendous play by those who desperately needed it. Duffy Waldorf, at No. 167 on the money list, was on the verge of going home until he birdied the last two holes to make the cut on the number. Glen Day is at No. 163, and he ran off a string of birdies late in the afternoon for a 67 to qualify for the weekend.

Verplank has no such worries, having won in Dallas earlier this year. He is 15th on the money list, played in the Presidents Cup, and already is assured of going to Kapalua and the four majors.

But he was at Q-school 10 years ago, and he believes blocking out distractions at any level is the key in golf.

"You can't force any of that to happen," he said. "So the guys that are struggling now to make the cut or to keep their card or to do whatever, that's the biggest challenge they have."

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