JORDAN NIEBRUGGE EXTENDS LEAD AT Q-SCHOOL

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18th Green at the Staal Open at Whitewater Golf Club
18th Green at the Staal Open at Whitewater Golf Club

PGA TOUR Canada - Staal Foundation Open presented by Tbaytel
The 18th Green at Whitewater Golf Club in Thunder Bay one of the stops on the 2015 tour

Third Round Leaderboard:

Jordan Niebrugge – 67-63-68 (-18)
Joey Petronio – 67-66-69 (-14)
Brant Peaper – 67-66-70 (-13)
Robby Shelton – 67-68-68 (-13)

THE RECAP: Mequon, Wisconsin’s Jordan Niebrugge shot a 4-under 68 on Thursday at Sun ‘N Lake Golf Club to extend his lead at the Mackenzie Tour – PGA TOUR Canada’s USA East #1 Q-School.

A standout at Oklahoma State University who made waves in the golf world for his T6 finish at the 2015 Open Championship, the 23-year old built a four-shot advantage heading into the final round over Orlando, Florida’s Joey Petronio.

“I played really well to get out of the blocks,” said Niebrugge, who birdied three of his first four holes. “I had a couple of tap-ins with wedges. The last couple of holes played tough, but I played pretty solid.”

With one round standing between him and fully exempt Mackenzie Tour status for 2017, the Wisconsinite said he’s grown more comfortable each day at Sun ‘N Lake’s Deer Run course and is looking forward to the final round’s challenge.

“There are definitely holes that I feel comfortable on out here. I was pretty much in position for most of the day I had one three putt, and it’s always a goal of mine not to have any three-putts during the four rounds, but other than that I played well,” said Niebrugge.

Petronio, a University of North Florida grad, managed four birdies against just one bogey to hold solo second, while former University of Alabama star Robby Shelton and  2014-15 Mackenzie Tour member Brant Peaper were a shot further behind at 13-under.

CURRENT SCORES FOR MACKENZIE TOUR STATUS: After 72 holes this week, every player inside the top 40 and ties will earn Mackenzie Tour status for 2017. Below is a breakdown of where the cut-offs stand:

1st (Exempt for 2017 season): -18/1st

5th (Exempt for first 8 events, subject to 2nd reshuffle): -12/5th

16th (Exempt for first 4 events, subject to 1st reshuffle): -7/T14

40th (Conditional status): -3/T33

BACKGROUND ON THE LEADER: After a making a splash at St. Andrews as the Open Championship’s low amateur in 2015, Niebrugge seemed on the verge of stardom. He had won the 2013 U.S. Amateur Public Links, produced three solid seasons at Oklahoma State and just contended in a major championship.

But as many players find out the hard way upon turning pro, the journey to the PGA TOUR is one of self-discovery, tough competition and incremental improvements found through gruelling practice sessions. For Niebrugge, a tough 2016 season that saw him miss the cut in six starts on PGA TOUR sponsor exemptions was a learning experience.

“I would have wished to get out there right away. I played alright my senior year at OSU and kind of continued that into the summer, but I wasn’t hitting it as well as I would have liked to, and kind of continued that right into Q-School,” said Niebrugge.

The 2017 season represents the chance for a fresh start, however, and all signs point to an improvement over last year. Niebrugge recently qualified for the Web.com Tour’s Chitimacha Louisiana Open presented by NACHER and made the cut, and his 18-under total through 54 holes in windy conditions has given him a three shot lead over a strong field.

“I’ve been working hard and it’s nice to see that it’s starting to pay off. I’m starting to hit it really well,” said Niebrugge.

THEY SAID IT:

“I didn’t want to put too much pressure on myself this week, and after the first two rounds I wanted to play it like a regular tournament. Obviously Jordan’s been playing well, so I’m just going to go out and try to play solid tomorrow.” – Joey Petronio on his goals heading into the final round.

“Over my 21 years I’ve made plenty of mistakes on the golf course and I’ve learned a lot, but you definitely learn more each time, and each time I mess up I learn from it.” – Robby Shelton on an up-and-down day that included six birdies and an eagle but a bogey-double bogey finish.

MORE PLAYER NOTES:

Joey Petronio

23-year old Joey Petronio is looking to secure Mackenzie Tour status for the first time. The University of North Florida grad earned three individual victories while playing for the Ospreys and was teammates with 2016 Mackenzie Tour member Taylor Hancock.

Robby Shelton

21-year old Robby Shelton turned pro last June after a successful career at the University of Alabama, where he won seven times and won the Phil Mickelson Award as Freshman of the Year in 2014. Shelton was named a 1st team NCAA All-American three times at Alabama and helped the Crimson Tide to a national championship in 2014.

Brant Peaper

Brant was a Mackenzie Tour member in 2014 and 2015, making five cuts in 21 starts including a career-best T35 finish at the 2014 Players Cup.

The 23-year old played college golf at Indiana University, where he was named an All-Big 10 1st team member in 2013 and won twice individually.

Miscellaneous notes:

  • Weather: 29 degrees Celsius (feels like 32), cloudy winds 12 km/h gusting to 19 km/h.
  • University of Georgia Senior Greyson Sigg shot a 5-under 67 to six solo sixth at 11-under.
  • Bogey free rounds on Thursday: Austin Quick (66), Greyson Sigg (67), Jhared Hack (67), Bradley Hawkins (67), Lee McCoy (68).
  • Click here for scores.