THUNDER BAY – SPORTS – The path to the Mackenzie Tour Events is clearer for more players on the PGA TOUR Canada trail.
Horacio Leon – 66-68-65-70 (-19)
Eric Onesi – 67-68-67-72 (-14)
Johnny Ruiz – 69-67-69-69 (-14)
THE RECAP: Santiago, Chile’s Horacio Leon shot a 2-under 70 on Friday at Crown Isle Resort and Golf Community in Comox, British Columbia to earn medalist honours 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, cruised to victory by five shots over Bear, Delaware’s Eric Onesi and Camarillo, California’s Johnny Ruiz to secure exempt status for the 2017 season.
“I feel great. I didn’t play my best, but I knew yesterday was good enough to give me some space to go around and be able to not stress about any putts that didn’t go in,” said Leon, who built three-stroke lead yesterday with a sparking 65. “All in all, I’m super happy to have exempt status this year.”
The win completes an arduous journey back from arthroscopic ankle surgery just over three months ago, with this week’s Q-School representing Leon’s first tournament since the procedure.
“It’s never good to get any kind of surgery done, but after trying to come back as fast possible and in the best shape I could, it really gave me something that I didn’t have before,” said a smiling Leon.
Onesi, who claimed medalist honours here in 2015 and competed in Canada over the past two seasons, carded a 72 to guarantee a return to the Mackenzie Tour this year, while Ruiz returns after having conditional status in 2015.
CURRENT SCORES FOR MACKENZIE TOUR STATUS: After 72 holes this week, every player inside the top 40 and ties earned Mackenzie Tour status for 2017. Below is a breakdown of the cut-offs for status:
1st (Exempt for 2017 season): -19/1st
5th (Exempt for first 8 events, subject to 2nd reshuffle): -12/5th
16th (Exempt for first 4 events, subject to 1st reshuffle): -6/T15*
* = (Simon Hawkes and Kramer Hickok prevailed in a 4-for-2 playoff)
40th (Conditional status): +1/T33
THEY SAID IT:
“It wasn’t my best week, but I did what I needed to do. Now my goal is to play as well as I can early and ideally turn those four events into an entire season.” – Comox native Riley Wheeldon, who grew up playing at Crown Isle and secured exempt status for the first four events of the season with a sixth-place finish.
“That’s the one thing most guys are thinking about after college, just getting starts. I’m going to have at least a couple here, so that’s a relief. Today was a hard day, but after I had a tough first round, it was just pretty steady the entire way.” – Oklahoma University senior Max McGreevy, who finished fifth, on securing a place to play following the upcoming conclusion of his amateur career at the NCAA Championship.
Below are notes on the top 16 players from this week’s Q-School:
HORACIO LEON: Played in 37 events on PGA TOUR Latinoamérica and earned conditional status on the Mackenzie Tour last year. Horacio’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.
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. Was the medalist at the 2015 Canada Q-School at Crown Isle.
JOHNNY RUIZ: 23-year old earned conditional status on the Mackenzie Tour in 2015 and missed the cut in all four starts. Won the 2016 Monterey Open.
BRETT COLETTA: 20-year old Aussie phenom won the Queensland Open on the PGA Tour of Australasia as an amateur last year and finished second at the 2016 Asia Pacific Amateur, narrowly missing out on an exemption into the Masters Tournament.
MAX MCGREEVY: Current University of Oklahoma senior owns three individual wins and was named a 3rd team NCAA All-American in 2016.
RILEY WHEELDON: 26-year old has played on the Mackenzie Tour since 2011 and won the 2013 Syncrude Boreal Open presented by AECON before finishing No. 2 on the Order of Merit that season. Played through injuries last year and finished No. 67 on the Order of Merit, with his best finish at T4 at the Players Cup.
KAZ HOFFMAN: 30-year old played college golf at Rice University and was a member of the Mackenzie Tour in 2014 and 2016, making six cuts in 20 starts including a T34 at last year’s National Capital Open to Support Our Troops.
ZACH FOUSHEE: 22-year old was a member of the University of Oregon team that won the NCAA Championship last year. Was named a Second-Team All-Pac 12 member in 2015.
ANDREW NOVAK: Wofford College graduate was the 2016-17 Southern Conference Player of the Year and claimed four individual wins in college. Was once included in the Top 10 plays on ESPN’s SportsCenter after sinking a 100+ foot putt.
RYAN HEISEY: 29-year old 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. Best finish was a T9 at the Bayview Place Cardtronics Open presented by Times Colonist.
WESLEY MCCLAIN: 26-year old played college golf at the University of Houston and Monday Qualified and made the cut at both the Shell Houston Open (80th) and Valero Texas Open (T62) on the PGA TOUR. Made 11 starts on PGA TOUR Latinoamérica last year, including two top-10 finishes.
JAMES WHITE: 27-year old was a two-time NCAA All-American at Georgia Tech and represented the United States at the 2012 Palmer Cup. Finished T2 at the Web.com Tour’s News Sentinel Open in 2013.
DEREK BARRON: 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.
MAX GREYSERMAN: Current Duke University senior won the 2015 New Jersey Amateur Championship and the 2014 New Jersey Open. Works with swing coach Jeff Smith, who also coaches 2016 The Five member Aaron Wise.
KRAMER HICKOK: 25-year old was a college teammate of Jordan Spieth’s at the University of Texas. Owns one pro win earlier this year on the Adams Tour.
SIMON HAWKES: 28-year old Aussie owns one pro win at the 2016 Tasmanian Open. Has played previously on the PGA EuroPro Tour and will have Mackenzie Tour status for the first time.
- Weather: 13 degrees Celsius, partly sunny with showers, winds 20 km/h gusting to 30 km/h.
- Canadians in position to earn status: Riley Wheeldon (6th, -11); Blair Hamilton (T22, -4); Robbie Greenwell (T33, +1).
- Former Ben Hogan Award winner and World No. 1 amateur Chris Williams finished T15 before falling in a playoff to secure conditional status.
- Former Golf Canada National Amateur Team member Blair Hamilton finished T22 to secure conditional status in his first full season as a pro.
- Click here for scores.