PGA TOUR Canada Q-School First Round Leaderboard:
Horacio Leon – 66 (-6)
Eric Onesi – 67 (-5)
Ryan Heisey – 67 (-5)
Derek Barron – 67 (-5)
Chelso Barrett (a) – 67 (-5)
THE RECAP: Santiago, Chile’s Horacio Leon shot a 6-under 66 on Tuesday at Crown Isle Resort and Golf Community in Comox, British Columbia to take the first round lead at the Mackenzie Tour – PGA TOUR Canada’s Canada Q-School.
The 27-year old, whose older brother is two-time Mackenzie Tour winner Hugo Leon, carded six birdies and was without a bogey on the day to lead by one over Eric Onesi, Derek Barron, Chelso Barrett and Ryan Heisey after day one’s play.
“I kept it out of trouble and hit great shots all around. I was always in play and it was pretty stress-free,” said Leon, who held conditional status on the Mackenzie Tour last year and has played in 37 events on PGA TOUR Latinoamérica.
With cool, windy weather making the 7,025-yard Crown Isle layout play even longer than normal, Leon said he was pleased with how he kept the ball in play and out of the thick rough around the greens.
“I didn’t try to take on too much off the tee and just kept hitting solid shots all through the day,” said Leon.
Onesi, who earned medalist honours here at Q-School in 2015, opened with a 67 to share second place with Barrett, Barron and Heisey, who was a Mackenzie Tour member in 2016. Riley Wheeldon, a former Mackenzie Tour winner and a member of The Five in 2013, was part of a group of four players tied for sixth at 4-under 68.
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): -6/1st
5th (Exempt for first 8 events, subject to 2nd reshuffle): -5/T2
16th (Exempt for first 4 events, subject to 1st reshuffle): -3/T11
40th (Conditional status): E/T33
BACKGROUND ON THE LEADER: Leon’s round was a success beyond the six birdies and field-leading 6-under 66 that showed up on his scorecard. For the 27-year old, just being able to walk 18 holes made the day a successful one.
“I’m coming back from an injury,” said Leon, who had arthroscopic surgery on his right ankle to remove scar tissue a little over three months ago. “This was only my third time walking 18 holes in the last three-and-a-half months, so I’m just trying to keep it simple and go nice and slow.”
Despite the physical limitations – Leon says he’s played 25 times total since the surgery and needs to go through an extensive routine of stretching and exercise to get in playing conditions – the Chilean says the ordeal has given him a new perspective on playing the game.
“It helped me out to realize I just have to keep it easy and ‘keep the car running.’ I don’t try to overpower the course,” said Leon. “I’m just happy to be able to finish the round.”
THEY SAID IT:
“I just feel comfortable here. I decided to come back here, even though I easily could have played in Florida and been closer to home. I have good vibes here and like making the journey.” – 2015 Canada Q-School medalist Eric Onesi on choosing to play Q-School at Crown Isle.
“I think you have to be super committed to the lines off the tees. You have to pick out targets and be committed to where you’re hitting it.” – Derek Barron on the challenges of playing Crown Isle.
“I learned that there are ups and downs. You can play great one week and not so much the next, but it’s about grinding it out knowing you’ve got 10 or 11 events to play well.” – 2016 Mackenzie Tour member Ryan Heisey on what he learned from playing in Canada last year.
MORE PLAYER NOTES:
29-year old Eric Onesi played college golf at Old Dominion University and competed on the Mackenzie Tour each of the past two seasons, making 11 cuts in 23 starts including a T4 finish at the 2015 SIGA Dakota Dunes Open. Onesi was the medalist at the 2015 Canada Q-School at Crown Isle.
29-year old Ryan Heisey played on the Mackenzie Tour in 2016 and narrowly-missed out on keeping his card for this season, finishing 63rd on the Order of Merit. His best finish was a T9 at the Bayview Place Cardtronics Open presented by Times Colonist.
32-year old Derek Barron is playing Mackenzie Tour Q-School for the first time, having decided to pursue becoming a touring professional after winning several events as a member of the Pacific Northwest PGA Section, including the 2012 Oregon Open and 2015 Northwest Open.
Currently an amateur in his senior season at TCU, Chelso Barett opened with a 5-under 67. Barrett was named an NCAA Honorable Mention All-American in 2016 and was a teammate of 2016 Freedom 55 Financial Championship winner Paul Barjon.
- Weather: 12 degrees Celsius (feels like 10), cloudy, winds 20 km/h gusting to 30 km/h.
- Comox, B.C.’s Riley Wheeldon, who grew up playing at Crown Isle and finished 2nd on the Mackenzie Tour Order of Merit in 2013, opened with a 4-under 68.
- Canadians in position to earn status: Riley Wheeldon (T6, 68); Russell Budd (T17, 70); Robbie Greenwell (T22, 71); Brady Stead (T22, 71); Andrew Rasmussen (T22, 71)
- Former Golf Canada National Amateur Team member Blair Hamilton opened with a 1-over 73 and was T41 through 18 holes.
- Click here for scores.