HOWEY-IN-THE-HILLS, Florida — An eagle at the first hole for Isaiah Salinda, his first of the week, proved to be the difference in a two-stroke victory over David Sanders Friday at the Mackenzie Tour—PGA TOUR Canada Qualifying Tournament.
The Stanford University product, who closed with a 2-under 70 to finish at 5-under 283, is now fully exempt on Mackenzie Tour for the 2020 season.
“It’s mission accomplished,” he said. “This was the goal heading in here, to put myself in position to at least get good status. After the first few days, the goal was to try and win this and be medalist. Every professional field is a good field that you can’t take lightly. I knew I had to bring my game this week to get through, but I’m very pleased with how I played.”
Salinda’s 18-foot eagle putt from the back fringe, coupled with another lengthy birdie putt at the sixth, was enough to erase a bogey and double bogey at Nos. 7 and 8. He added three more birdies on the back nine to overcome Sanders, who shot 3-over 75 Friday after entering the day with a two-stroke advantage.
Thirteen other players finished inside the top 14 to earn six guaranteed starts for the 2020 season. Players that finished Nos. 15 through 40 earned conditional status for the season.
Sanders led the way with a solo second finish at 3-under 285, despite ultimately being undone by a pair of bogeys and a double bogey on Nos. 6 through 8. The 29-year-old was appearing in his fourth career Mackenzie Tour Qualifying Tournament but had finished no better than tied for 75th.
Alex Smalley and Harrison Rhoades finished tied for third at 2-under 286, while amateur Thomas Forster closed with a final-round 73 to finish fifth.
“The plan was to win,” said Salina, a native of San Francisco, Calif. “It’s really the same everywhere. In a week like this, the goal was definitely to come out on top. I think I was a little hot and cold with the putter the whole week, but I gave myself enough chances to where I knew that some of them would eventually just go in. I just had to stay patient.”
- This is the second of seven Mackenzie Tour – PGA TOUR Canada qualifying tournaments before the season begins May 28 at the Canada Life Open. Blake Elliott won the first qualifying tournament at TPC San Antonio in February.
- The next Mackenzie Tour qualifying tournament will take place March 10-13 at Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail in Dothan, Ala.
- Salinda earned All-Pac 12 honors as a senior at Stanford and helped lead the Cardinal to a team NCAA Championship.
- Salinda has appeared in five PGA TOUR events so far this season. His best finish was a 33rd-place result at the Safeway Open in September.
- David Sanders shot 3-over Friday to finish in solo second at 3-under285. He finished no better than tied for 75th in three other career Mackenzie Tour Qualifying Tournaments.
- Thomas Forster was the low amateur, as he finished solo-fifth at 1-under. Forster, a native of Northamptonshire, England, is a senior at Carson-Newman in East Tennessee.
- Other than his second-round co-lead, Andy Zhang never bothered to check his standing on the leaderboard. He rebounded from a Thursday 77 to shot 71 on Friday, good for sixth place, and secure status for the first half of the season.
- Jack Farci posted rounds of 77-76 over his first two rounds but shot 5-under over the last two days to finish in 14th place at 4-over 292 and secure status for the first half of the season. Farci rolled in three putts beyond 20 feet on Friday en route to a 3-under 69, which began with a bogey-free 31 on the back nine.
“My game is trending in the right direction. I’ve struggled the last month or so with a few things, but I had a nice week at home last week working with my coach and felt like I had worked on what I needed to work on to get ready for this. I think my iron game stood out the most this week. I’ve been working hard on my putting. It still has some room to improve but it’s getting better.” – Isaiah Salinda
“I’ve played enough rounds where a good start doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll play well. I knew at the first hole that point there was a lot of golf left. But with a start like that, I felt good about it. Just tried to keep it going. I had some bad holes there at the end of the front nine but was able to bounce back.” – Isaiah Salinda
“My mom, Debbie, was out here. She’s the best. She tries to come see and watch most of the events I play. It’s just nice to have her here, she’s always very supportive and making sure I’m doing what I need to do.” – Isaiah Salinda
“It’s nice to know that you’ll have starts and be able to play somewhere. Obviously I’ll have to play well the first six to be able to play the next six. There are a lot of good players in this field. I’ve known Isaiah for a while, I’ve known Akshay (Bhatia) for a little bit, and some of the other guys that can really play. It wasn’t the easiest course, as the scores have shown, but I played well enough to get some starts, which is a good feeling to have.” – Alex Smalley
“Yesterday was a really tough day. I knew my ball-striking wasn’t where I needed to be. The first two days, the only reason I shot those scores were because the conditions weren’t that tough and I could get away with some not very good shot. With how windy it was yesterday it exposed my weaknesses a lot.” – Andy Zhang
“This is definitely a step toward the right direction, being not my best ball-striking week and still grinding it out and shooting the scores I did.” – Andy Zhang
“After the first two days, I was getting a little down on myself. I’ve got a good support group back home and they kept telling me to believe in myself and I’ve got the confidence and ability to do this and I just had to go out and do it. They sparked a little fire in me. Coming in with these last two rounds shooting five-under, I’m really impressed with how my game is. It could have been even more special, but I’ll take 5-under.” – Jack Faraci
“This just means I’m getting to the next step. Graduating college six months or seven months ago and doing mini-tour stuff, I’m excited to take the next step and progress on.” – Charles Huntzinger
Fourth-Round Weather: Sunny. High of 19. Winds NW at 19 KPH.
How the Tournament Works
There are 117 players competing this week with hopes of earning Mackenzie Tour membership for the 2020 season. Below is a breakdown of the various statuses available this week.
|Exempt for the 2020 season|
|2nd through 14th (no ties)
Brandon P. Smith-a
|Fully exempt for the first six 2020 tournaments and subject to the re-shuffle|
|15th through 40th (plus ties)
John B. Williams
Bennett Wisner, Jr.
|Conditionally exempt for the 2020 season|