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Q-School star pupil Sapp sets sights on 2013

Garrett SappHONG KONG, January 17 - American Garrett Sapp has some sound advice for those entered in OneAsia's Q-School this year:  treat it as a marathon, not a sprint.

Sapp finished sixth at Q-School in 2012 and parlayed eight starts on OneAsia into 14th place on the Order of Merit with earnings of nearly U.S. $90,000 -- including joint fourth at the Nanshan China Masters.

Despite playing alongside such luminaries as Major winners Louis Oosthuizen and Y.E. Yang that week, Sapp says Q-School remains the biggest challenge on tour.

"Mentally, Q-School was probably the toughest event all season," he said.

"You know that you and the rest of the field are there to play four rounds until the end, so the grind is on for everyone.

"For anyone attempting Q-School for the first time, I think the best advice would be to remember it's a marathon event and keep the risk-reward shots to a minimum. Don't get too down with your play -- or too high -- because a lot can happen in four rounds."

(OneAsia's Q-School takes place at two venues for 2013 -- the Industry Hills Golf Club at Pacific Palms, in Industry Hills, California from Jan 29 - Feb 1, and Sutera Harbour Golf Club in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia from Feb 5 - 8. Full details are available here.)

Sapp, 26, grew up in California and was introduced to the game by his grandfather and an uncle who worked at a course in Palm Springs.

"I played a lot of soccer before then, but once I started playing golf I figured I liked walking more than running," he said

"I got onto the high school team and kept going from there. A lot of guys like to party, but I just golfed all day."

Sapp admits he probably wasn't the best student at the University of California, Irvine, but shortly before his final exams he developed a rare form of vertigo known as labyrinthitis and was bed-ridden for over a month.

"I was practicing one day and started getting really dizzy on the range," he said. "I had to be driven home, and when I lay down the room started spinning -- it was like being drunk. I couldn't get up for a month, so I missed all my finals that year and just couldn't get it back together."

Sapp eventually recovered -- although he had a relapse that fortunately lasted only a few days -- but he knew he wanted a career in golf and turned professional in 2007

His best results until making it to OneAsia were joint second in a local event in California and third place in a Canadian Tour event, but then he decided to try his hand at OneAsia Q-School.

"I was pleased with my play last season on OneAsia," he said.

"I had a few solid events where I was able to get into contention and test my game while coming down the last few holes -- which is the position I work towards when playing competitively.

"I was able to finish a few off well, then had a few where I stumbled.  A goal of mine is to handle myself better in those positions and get the job done. The experience of playing in fields with such talented players has definitely had a positive impact and is good for my confidence."

The highlight of Sapp's year was a stunning final-round 65 at the Charity High1 Resort Open in Korea which at one point looked like being even better after a start that included an eagle and five birdies by the eighth hole.

"I've had rounds like that before but never in an event as big," he said. "I shot 11 under once, but it was in a small one-day tournament."

Sapp has settled down well into life as a touring pro, helped in part by an informal support network -- particularly for the Korean events.

"Luckily my caddy Glen went to my high school and lives in Korea so it is nice having a good buddy on the bag there as he speaks Korean," he said.

Sapp is also close friends with Brazilian Lucas Lee, a fellow OneAsia professional and Q-School graduate, and the pair support each other on the road.

"We usually room together and travel together and that makes it easy as well."

Outside of golf, Sapp likes watching European football and still plays soccer with friends when he is back home.

"I like playing in Asia as you can always see all the big games on TV there," he said.

As for 2013, Sapp just wants to improve on an excellent debut season.

"I want to get into contention more and more," he said. "The feeling of playing well and having the opportunity to win is a thrill that doesn't come every week, so that has given me a bigger drive to improve my game physically and mentally for this season.

"OneAsia sets up great events and I'll continue to enjoy them all. We get to play at some of the best venues across Asia and Australia."
 

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