Hitting the Big Time

After once thinking his playing career was over, former CGA Player of the Year Gunner Wiebe earns DP World Tour card by placing 13th in final stage of Q-school

By Gary Baines – 11/16/2022

After more than a decade as a pro — much of that time devoted to trying to gain playing privileges on a big-time tour — Gunner Wiebe hit the mark on Wednesday.

The Colorado native, Kent Denver graduate and 2010 CGA Player of the Year grinded out the six-round test that is the final stage of Q-school and earned a card on the DP World Tour — the former European Tour.

With the top 25 finishers and ties in Tarragona, Spain, landing exempt status on the circuit, Wiebe tied for 13th place on Wednesday out of a field that originally numbered 156. He posted scores of 73-64-71-66-66-69 for a 19-under-par total of 409, ending 10 strokes behind medalist Simon Forsstrom of Sweden.

Wiebe — son of Colorado Golf Hall of Famer Mark Wiebe, who won twice on the PGA Tour and five times on PGA Tour Champions, including the 2013 Senior British Open — earned status for the 2022-23 DP World season, which begins Nov. 24 at the Joburg Open in South Africa.

Gunner Wiebe finished sixth at the Inspirato Colorado Open this year.

“I’m obviously extremely happy with the result and feel very lucky to have a place to play, especially on the DP World Tour,” Wiebe said in a text on Wednesday. “To travel and to experience different cultures while doing what I love is a dream come true.”

It’s been a long — and sometimes difficult — meandering journey for Wiebe to get to one of the world’s top tours. After an amateur career in which he won the 2010 CGA Match Play and played his college golf at the University of San Diego, Wiebe has played many state opens, events on lower-level tours, and tried Monday qualifying for a lot of PGA and Korn Ferry Tour tournaments. Just this year, the now-Phoenix resident tied for sixth place in the Inspirato Colorado Open, marking his fourth top-six finish in the event since 2010. He placed second overall in the event as an amateur 12 years ago.

Over the years, Wiebe has competed in three PGA Tour events — making his first cut this year by placing 47th in the Barbasol Championship — and five Korn Ferry tournaments. He was a regular on PGA Tour Latinoamerica from 2013-15, competing in 35 events in those three years and recording three top-10 finishes.

But a nasty arm injury sustained about six years ago derailed his dream of playing on a big-time tour — at least for the time being.

The arm injury that derailed Wiebe’s career in his 20s.

In 2016 over Memorial Day weekend just south of Tijuana, Mexico, Wiebe suffered a potentially life-threatening injury that turned out to be “only” very serious. While moving luggage into a vacation home, Wiebe didn’t realize that a sliding-glass door had been closed. He walked right through it, and the single-pane, non-tempered glass shattered. In addition to cutting Wiebe’s hand — through not too severely — the underside of his upper right arm was sliced very, very deeply.

After the stitches were in for 13 days, Wiebe developed a staph infection. Following an extended rehab, Wiebe finally began making full swings of a golf club six weeks after the accident. But while he competed on and off for a while longer in 2016, it wasn’t the same.

“I never thought I’d play again,” Wiebe said last year. “I was very confident that that was it and I would always live with frustration and a little bit of resentment of not being able to leave on my terms.”

After a stint working in finance, Wiebe spent three years as an assistant pro at Bel-Air Country Club in Los Angeles. 

Wiebe with his dad, Mark, a two-time PGA Tour winner, at the 2021 Colorado Open.

“More than anything, (working as a club pro) kind of reminded me how important golf is in my life,” Wiebe said last year. “There was a stretch where I wanted to be as far away from it as I possibly could. When I stopped playing because I was hurt, I was bitter, I was resentful. There was a lot of, “Why did this happen?’ I was playing good golf when it happened. Circumstances drive you to have to find work and make a living and make money and not cripple yourself with debt or whatever the case may be.”

During that time as a club pro, Wiebe won the national title in the 2020 National Car Rental Assistant PGA Professional Championship after claiming victory in both the 2019 and ’20 Southern California Assistant PGA Professional Championships.

Wiebe won the national title in the National Car Rental Assistant PGA Professional Championship late in 2020.

That national title helped whet Wiebe’s appetite to return to playing full time again, and he did just that starting in the late spring of last year.

After coming up short in Korn Ferry Tour Q-school both last year and this, Wiebe came up big in DP World Q-school recently. He finished 20th in the second stage in Alicante, Spain on Nov. 6, and placed 13th in the final stage on Wednesday. He advanced from stage 1 with a sixth-place showing in England in early September.

Over the course of six rounds in the final stage, the 33-year-old made 33 birdies and 14 bogeys. He went bogey-free in round 2’s 64.

Wiebe and Joshua Lee (also 19 under for the week) were the only Americans to earn their DP World cards through Q-school this year.

“I’m completely exhausted mentally,” Wiebe said in Wednesday’s text. “Six rounds is the ultimate test and requires an intense level of focus to succeed. 

“Coming off of a miss at the second stage of Korn Ferry Q-school, it was a challenge to get psyched up for second stage of DP World Q-school. But to get through that last week, and then to find a bit better form this week (at finals) and secure a card, makes the misses not sting as much because you forget them.”

Former University of Colorado golfer Daniel O’Loughlin missed earning his DP World Tour card on Wednesday — he finished 43rd — but he landed full playing privileges on the European Challenge Tour.

Here are the round-by-round scores of the players with strong Colorado ties who competed in the final stage of DP World Tour Q-school:

Earned DP World Tour Card for 2022-23

13. Former Coloradan Gunner Wiebe 73-64-71-66-66-69—409

Failed to Earn DP World Tour Card, But Will Have Challenge Tour Card in 2023

43. Former CU golfer Daniel O’Loughlin 66-72-69-71-69-68—415

For all the scores from the final stage of Q-school, CLICK HERE.