Danny Ellis, Phillip Mollica, Brian Duncan earn full status for 2013 Web.com Tour

Trio joins former Tigers Ben Martin, Sam Saunders; Vince Hatfield, Stephen Poole have conditional status

Clemson golf coach Larry Penley shares a story with former Tigers (L-R) Luke Hopkins, David May and Phillip Mollica at the Furman Intercollegiate.

Photo by Kerry Capps

Clemson golf coach Larry Penley shares a story with former Tigers (L-R) Luke Hopkins, David May and Phillip Mollica at the Furman Intercollegiate.

So close for both Phillip Mollica and Danny Ellis.

There was both disappointment and opportunity for Mollica, Ellis and all the former Tigers who made in it to the final stage of the PGA Tour's final Q School qualifying tournament at La Quinta, Calif.

Both Ellis and Mollica missed earning their 2013 PGA Tour cards by the narrowest of margins on Monday - Ellis with a 32nd-place, 15-under finish that left him two strokes shy of the qualifying line, and Mollica after recording his only over-par round of the 108-hole tournament.

There is consolation, however.

Both Ellis and Mollica will be fully exempt players next season on the Web.com Tour, which henceforth will become the PGA's primary vehicle for awarding new tour cards.

Joining them with fully-exempt status will be Brian Duncan, Ben Martin and Sam Saunders - Duncan by virtue of his 73rd-place Q School finish on Monday; Martin via his top-60 finish on the 2012 Web.com money list, as well as his 64th-place Q School finish on Monday; and Saunders by way of his 50th-place standing on the 2012 Web.com Tour money list.

The other former Tigers in the Q School final field - Stephen Poole and Vince Hatfield - claimed 'conditional status' for the 2013 Web.com Tour, a category in which they'll join Matt Hendrix, Tommy Biershenk, Kevin Johnson, Charles Warren and Brent Delahoussaye.

For all of the former Tigers in the Q School final, except for Martin, the week provided a significant career breakthrough.

Ellis will be a full-standing tour player for the first time since 2006, when he put his professional career on hold because of injuries. He worked his way back via some strong mini-tour performances last season, and now has a chance to regain his PGA Tour card for 2014 via the Web.com Tour.

Mollica, Duncan, Poole and Hatfield are all stepping up from the mini-tours - eGolf Professional, Hooters and NGA - and now have a foot in the door toward PGA Tour qualification. Mollica, Duncan and Poole have been mini-tour fixtures since they left Clemson, while Hatfield made sporadic mini-tour appearances before making a breakthrough and working his way up into several eGolf Golf Professional Tour tournaments last year.

Under the PGA Tour's new qualifying format, the top 25 finishers on the Web.com Tour money list will earn PGA Tour cards for 2014. Another 25 spots will be awarded by a season-ending four-tournament 'playoff' (similar to the PGA Tour's Fed Ex Cup Playoffs), which will include the top 150 players on the Web.com Tour.

In future years, Q School will be used only as a qualifying event for the Web.com Tour.

Qualification for the Web.com Tour has become an essential intermediate step for young players trying to work their way up to the PGA Tour.

Conditional qualifiers will have varying playing opportunities, based on their Q School finishes. The Web.com Tour tournaments also feature 'Monday Qualifying' opportunities. Players who earn spots in a tournament and finish in the top 25 are automatically exempt for the next week. If a Monday qualifier wins a tournament, he gains full status for the rest of the current season.

There are also opportunities for mini-tour players to earn spots in the field for Web.com Tour tournaments. Among the former Tigers expected to play on the mini-tours this year include David May, Corbin Mills, Ben Duncan, Alex Boyd, and Tanner Ervin.

Former Tigers Q School Results

Danny Ellis, T32nd, 15-under: 70-69-68-70-70

Phillip Mollica, T57th, 12-under: 68-68-71-68-69-75

Ben Martin, T64th, 11-under: 72-72-71-68-73-67

Brian Duncan, T73rd, 10-under: 71-73-70-68-73-67

Stephen Poole, T114th, 5-under: 72-77-72-67-68-71

Vince Hatfield, T118th, 4-under: 70-74-70-68-76-70

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