Rob Rashell has the same birthday as Tiger Woods: Dec. 30, 1975. Now the former Washington Huskies walk-on will play on the same tour as Woods because Rashell did more than survive...

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Rob Rashell has the same birthday as Tiger Woods: Dec. 30, 1975.


Now the former Washington Huskies walk-on will play on the same tour as Woods because Rashell did more than survive at PGA Qualifying School. He flourished.


The former Lake Stevens High School basketball star finished second in the final stage’s six-round war of nerves that ended Monday in La Quinta, Calif.


He earned $40,000 and his 2005 PGA Tour card.


Rashell’s success has a taste of “Rocky” to it because he had failed to make it through five previous PGA qualifying schools. The son of a roofing contractor had only mixed success in qualifying schools for other tours.


“I guess I would be considered a veteran of tour schools,” he said with cheerful deprecation. “That’s not something you want to be known for.”


Q-School is where dreams vaporize. One writer for The Wire, the on-line publication of the Golf Press Association, described it this week with these words:


“After surviving up to two preliminary tiers of tears — Q-School isn’t a tournament. It’s bamboo shoots under the fingernails. It’s six days of heavy-metal music for symphony lovers, gallstones, a week’s vacation in Siberia in your undershorts. … It’s Haagen-Dazs ice cream topped with liver and onions — sweet underneath if you can just get past piles of misery. You get all this for the low, low cost of a $12,000 entry fee (based on a three-stage trip).”


Rashell was up to the challenge after playing on the PGA European Tour this year. He had played various minitours in previous years with financial help from UW boosters and some Echo Falls homeowners who knew him from his past part-time employment at the Woodinville-area course.


Rashell had one second-place finish on the European Tour. He admits he wore down as the season progressed but still finished high enough to keep his European card. Now, he has no plans to use it.


Rashell is quick to credit Blaine teaching pro Jeff Coston (his swing coach) and Bellevue’s Bill Meyer (his mental mentor) as key figures in his success.


His approach with Coston was interesting because he never sought a discount from Coston’s $100-an-hour rate because he wanted the pro’s full attention.


“I didn’t want him just coming over while giving a lesson to someone else and spending five minutes with me,” Rashell said.


During the final stage of qualifying school, Rashell’s mental strategy was the equivalent of putting himself in an isolation booth.


“I never looked at a scoreboard the entire week,” he said.


He didn’t look at newspapers or television reports either.


In restaurants, he would stare at his food and block out conversations around him. He stayed with a family and asked them to avoid talking about the tournament.


“I’m asking for your help this week,” he told them.


But he knew he was doing well because he was paired in final groups and outscored almost everyone.


Rashell shot 16-under-par 416 (68-68-70-67-74-69) over the six-round event and finished one stroke behind England’s Brian Davis. The tournament was held at the PGA West Stadium Course and the Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course.


The top 26 finishers and ties gained a full exemption for the PGA Tour.


As a Husky, Rashell was a four-year letterman but never won a collegiate tournament. However, he won the Washington State Amateur in 1997 at Gold Mountain and won the Arizona Open in 2001. He has made the Phoenix area his base of operations since 2000.


Former Huskies teammate John Moscrip isn’t surprised that his determined friend finally has his PGA Tour card.


“You knew he had it and he was going to break through,” said Moscrip. “He had that burning desire to do it.”


Moscrip describes Rashell with such words as “competitive,” “positive,” “engaging” and “a guy you want to be around.”


Rashell is primed to give this opportunity of a lifetime his best shot.


“I’m going to be going against the world’s best for a year,” he said. “I don’t want to look back in a year and say I didn’t give it all I had.”


He also doesn’t want to return to Q-School.


Rashell’s girlfriend, Kelli Doneley, told him at week’s end:


“Promise me you aren’t going to come back (to Q-School).”


Replied Rashell: “It’s a deal.”


Craig Smith: 206-464-8279 or csmith@seattletimes.com