- Associated Press - Tuesday, November 1, 2011

SHANGHAI (AP) - After spending nearly a decade as a caddie, one tough year wasn’t enough to keep Brett Waldman from another shot at trying to make it as a player.

Waldman gave up his job as the caddie for Camilo Villegas last year when he made it to the final stage of Q-school, giving him status on the Nationwide Tour. It didn’t quite turn out the way he had hoped. After making the cut in his debut in Panama, Waldman went six months and 14 tournaments before making another check.

He finished his first year at No. 193 on the Nationwide Tour money list with $6,958 _ about half of what he used to earn in one week as the caddie for Villegas.

“When I was missing all those cuts in a row, I definitely was missing caddying,” Waldman said from his home near Dallas.

He decided to start over, and a bogey-free round of 68 in the final round two weeks ago was enough to make it out of the first stage of Q-school. He returns to the TPC Craig Ranch in two weeks for the second stage.

“I worked so hard to get my game in shape, and it didn’t come into shape until the end of the year,” Waldman said. “I just wasn’t in any tournaments. I was fully exempt, but only for 10 events, which was my own fault. I made one cut out of 10, and my status dropped by like 35 players. I was in events easily, and then I had a hard time getting in. Therefore, I had to Monday qualify or get an exemption.”

A year ago, Waldman felt as though he couldn’t pass up a chance at playing pro golf. It might be different this year if he makes it through to the final stage, but still has only Nationwide Tour status.

He made it through the year, but financially says he “took a pretty good hit.”

If he were to get his PGA Tour card, he would come out to the arena where he once only caddied. But to spend another year in the minor leagues might be difficult if he started getting phone calls from players looking for a caddie.

“Getting a good bag is always tempting,” he said. “Especially after a year like this.”

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MIXING IT UP: For the first time since 2003, the majors were won by players who had never won one before. Throw in the World Golf Championships, and it’s evident that 2011 was the year of the breakthrough.

First-time major winners were Charl Schwartzel at the Masters, Rory McIlroy at the U.S. Open, Darren Clarke at the British Open and Keegan Bradley at the PGA Championship.

Luke Donald won his first WGC event in February at the Match Play Championship, followed by Nick Watney collecting his first world championship at Doral a month later. At Firestone, Adam Scott kept the streak alive by capturing his first WGC event.

Since the WGCs began in 1999, there was never a year in which first-timers won the majors and WGCs.

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