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Blick shoots 63, earns Web starts after having clubs stolen

On Sunday morning, Cody Blick was standing in the kitchen of his rented house, making eggs and bacon, when his coach’s fiancée asked an unsettling question.

Where are your clubs?

The third-year pro from Northern California had stashed them in the garage the night before, on the eve of the final round of Tour Q-School, a day that would determine whether he’d have eight to 12 guaranteed starts on the developmental circuit in 2019 or a spring full of Monday qualifiers. But at 8:30 a.m., about an hour before he was set to depart for Whirlwind Golf Club in Chandler, Ariz., the garage door of his Airbnb was open and his clubs were gone.

“I went through a rollercoaster of emotions for about five minutes,” Blick, 25, told late Sunday. “I was kinda freaking out, but I had to get it together.”

His first step was to log on Instagram. He tapped out a desperate plea, offering $5,000 to anyone who had more information about his stolen sticks. No leads. So then he called Titleist. The tour van had already left town, but some of the local reps quickly gathered what they could. They put together a TS3 driver and 3-wood with different settings. They borrowed the club superintendent’s 5- through 9-iron that were a few degrees upright. They took a couple of wedges from the pro shop. And they grabbed a blade putter that was heavier and an inch longer than his gamer.

Blick had time to hit only a few balls before he headed to the tee. It’d already been a challenging week – a day earlier he’d noticed a three-quarter-inch crack in his driver face, and he headed into the final round four shots off the all-important top-40 cut line – but this was a different challenge entirely.

“My coach told me, ‘This is going to be a weird day where you’re going to hit some weird shots,’” Blick said.

Except … he didn’t hit many.

Blick figured that he needed to shoot 8 under to secure early-season status for 2019, and he got hot early, going out in 32. He ripped his new driver, missing only one fairway all day, and even felt confident enough to roast a few off the deck. He tugged a couple of iron shots, but he also knocked down the flag and had seven birdie putts inside 5 feet. And after a painful goodbye to his stolen putter – which he’d used since 2010 – he choked down an inch on the new model, adjusted his setup and rolled the ball beautifully, never missing inside 7 feet.

“It was an attack mentality all day,” he said. “Hitting bad shots was OK, almost, like, Dude, I have a mismatched set. It’s not expected of me to hit good shots. In a weird way, that was comforting.”

His goal was to get to 20 under for the tournament, and on the par-4 eighth (his 17th of the day), he lipped in an 18-footer to move to 18 under. He heard a loud, awkward cheer from his parents. “OK,” he thought, “that must be kinda important.” On his final hole, he ripped a drive up the narrow fairway and left himself with another 18-footer up the hill.

“Dude, just two putts from here,” said his caddie/coach, Gary Bashford.

“Let’s at least get to 19 (under),” Blick said, and he poured in one final birdie putt, his ninth of the day and third in a row to close.

After starting the day in a tie for 74th, four shots outside the number, Blick’s bogey-free 63 vaulted him all the way into joint 25th – one shot inside the bubble. He’s guaranteed at least eight Tour starts in 2019, a huge step for a player who has spent the past three years toiling on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada.

“It hasn’t really sunk in yet,” Blick said, “but to move up the ladder and get closer to the PGA Tour is really cool.”

And to do it this way, with a makeshift set of clubs and a flawless round in the most pressure-packed event of the year?

“It was one of those things where I never thought that I wasn’t going to get starts,” he said. “I don’t mean that in a cocky way; I just kinda believed the entire time that it was going to be fine. We took so many punches to the gut this week, and it was pretty cool to brush it off the way we did.”