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EVERY YEAR the PGA Tour welcomes its own boys of summer: young, newly-minted pros aiming to play their way onto the circuit. They are allowed to enter seven tournaments via sponsors? exemptions, and if they can match the earnings of the 150th-place finisher on the previous year?s money list, they get an unlimited number of exemptions the following year. (The magic number in 2004 is $348,976, but the very ambitious can hope to finish in the top 125 on this year?s money list, thus earning a Tour card.) This season?s group, led by the four players below, is the most promising in years, but the odds are against them. The Tour doesn?t keep records, but it?s believed that about 15 players have earned a Tour card this way. The last one to pull it off was Hank Kuehne, in 2003.
1. NICK FLANAGAN
R�SUM�: 2003 U.S. Amateur champion
EXEMPTIONS USED: 1
BEST FINISH: MC
2004 EARNINGS: 0
SKINNY: Young Aussie, a long way from home, will be babysat by countryman Stuart Appleby, with whom he shares a swing coach, Steve Bann.
2. BILL HAAS
EXEMPTIONS USED: 5