Second Round Leaderboard:
Derek Barron – 67-66 (-11)
Horacio Leon – 66-68 (-10)
Eric Onesi – 67-68 (-9)
Johnny Ruiz – 69-67 (-8)
THE RECAP: Tacoma, Washington’s Derek Barron shot a 6-under 66 on Wednesday at Crown Isle Resort and Golf Community in Comox, British Columbia to take the second round lead at the Mackenzie Tour – PGA TOUR Canada’s Canada Q-School.
The 32-year old, who turned towards becoming a touring professional last year after winning several events as a member of the Pacific Northwest PGA Section, made four birdies and an eagle and was without a bogey for the second straight day to lead by one over Santiago, Chile’s Hugo Leon through 36 holes.
“I actually hit my irons better and made a few less putts today, but I’m not going to be picky. I’m playing some really solid golf right now and it feels easy,” said Barron.
Leon, who led by one after 18 holes and is coming off ankle surgery just over three months ago, managed a 68 to sit one stroke back.
“I took advantage of the par-5s,” said Leon. “It could have gone both ways. I was 3-under through nine and lipped out or touched the hole a couple of times before going back to 2-under, but I knew I was playing good so I just kept it up.”
Bear, Delaware’s Eric Onesi, who won the 2015 Qualifying Tournament at Crown Isle, carded a 68 to sit one stroke further behind at 9-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): -11/1st
5th (Exempt for first 8 events, subject to 2nd reshuffle): -7/T5
16th (Exempt for first 4 events, subject to 1st reshuffle): -4/T12
40th (Conditional status): E/T37
BACKGROUND ON THE LEADER: Barron has had success on the Pacific Northwest PGA Section circuit, including wins at the 2012 Oregon Open and 2015 Northwest Open, but had always dreamed of trying to take the first step on the path to the PGA TOUR.
After he was able to secure enough sponsorship in 2016 to try playing full time, he decided to go all-in and chase improvements he knew he would need to make to take his game to the next level.
“I knew that even though the tools were there, I wasn’t refined enough,” said Barron. “I’ve been working super hard over the offseason and getting better at some things I’ve been putting off year after year. Finally, this off-season, I was like, ‘I’m just going to do it.”
The results have been promising so far, with improvements showing each week leading into Q-School. For Barron, who also previously held jobs as a courier and in construction, having the opportunity to play full-time means he’s finally able to put in the work he wasn’t able to while working.
“When you’re working [a job], you don’t want to grind for five, six hours a day on your swing. But when you’re playing, you gotta do whatever it takes.”
THEY SAID IT:
“I’ve got a couple of PGA TOUR starts, so I need something to do in between. I thought the Mackenzie Tour was perfect, so I’d come here and give it a crack.” – PGA Tour of Australasia winner Brett Coletta on why he chose to try and play the Mackenzie Tour this summer.
“For the most part I’m hitting a lot of greens, so I’ve got a lot of birdie looks. I haven’t had too many chances to make bogey. I definitely think there’s a lot of chances to go a bit lower, too, so that’s been encouraging.” – Riley Wheeldon on his first 36 holes, which included just one bogey.
“I kept it nice and easy again. I’m driving it great, so it’s easy to do that once you’re in the fairway. With my ankle being not sore, but on my mind, I’m just trying to hit it softer and not try to go for a really hard shot.” – Horacio Leon on not trying to do too much in his first tournament since ankle surgery just over three months ago.
MORE PLAYER NOTES:
27-year old Horacio Leon has played in 37 events on PGA TOUR Latinoamérica and earned conditional status on the Mackenzie Tour last year.
Leon’s brother, Hugo, is a two-time Mackenzie Tour winner and finished in The Five in 2013. Hugo earned conditional status at the USA East #2 Q-School this year.
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.
23-year old Johnny Ruiz earned conditional status on the Mackenzie Tour in 2015 and missed the cut in all four starts. He won the 2016 Monterey Open.
- Weather: 12 degrees Celsius, cloudy with showers, winds 9 km/h gusting to 14 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, shot a 3-under 69 and was tied for fifth at 7-under.
- Canadians in position to earn status: Riley Wheeldon (T5, -7); Brady Stead (T19, -3); Russell Budd (T28, -2); Blair Hamilton (T28, -2); Andrew Rasmussen (T32, -1); Brett Thompson (T37, E).
- Former Ben Hogan Award winner and World No. 1 amateur Chris Williams was T12 after rounds of 70-70.
- Click here for scores.