PGA TOUR Canada – Matt Picanso Extends Lead

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

Second Round Leaderboard:

Matt Picanso – 65-68 (-9)
Kramer Hickok – 68-67 (-7)
Jhared Hack – 68-67 (-7)


By Brian Decker

Winnipeg, Man – Bakersfield, California’s Matt Picanso shot a 3-under 68 on Friday at Pine Ridge Golf Club to extend his lead at the Players Cup, the fourth event of the 2017 Mackenzie Tour – PGA TOUR Canada season.

One day after shooting a 6-under 65, the 34-year old Mackenzie Tour rookie made five birdies against two bogeys to lead by two over Dallas, Texas’ Kramer Hickok and Lake Mary, Florida’s Jhared Hack heading into the weekend.

“I hit it really well,” said Picanso, who birdied the 18th to build a two-stroke cushion. “I just really focused on picking good targets from the tee, where if I missed a little I could still attack from there. Through 36 holes it’s worked really well.”

Though he’s new to the Mackenzie Tour, the former collegiate baseball player is familiar with being in contention at other levels of game, with more than a dozen mini tour titles to his name. That experience, he hopes, will help him stay aggressive on the weekend in Winnipeg.

“Foot on the pedal. You can get lapped out here pretty quick. It’s a long four days and there’s still a lot work to be done,” said Picanso.

Hack and Hickok posted a pair of 4-under 67s to reach 7-under through two rounds, while Camarillo, California’s Johnny Ruiz and Gainsville, Florida’s J.D. Tomlinson were a shot further behind at 6-under.

BACKGROUND ON THE LEADER: With the Mackenzie Tour attracting some of the top up-and-coming young players from around the world of college and amateur golf, Picanso’s path to becoming a professional golfer stands out among his peers.

Once a baseball prospect at Bakersfield College, Picanso eventually turned to golf and found a knack for the game at an age when most are taking their first steps on to the path to the PGA TOUR.

“I kind of didn’t start playing competitively until my early 20s. I played baseball my entire life, but I was over it and getting injured all the time,” said Picanso, who at the time had played golf mostly with his family. “I started practicing and trying to get better, and I fell in love with it.”

Slowly but surely, he’s improved year-by-year on various Mini Tours, and won 11 tournaments in 2015 including the Monterey Open, where he shot a final round 60.

Picanso was playing the second stage of Tour Q-School that fall when he tore his labrum in is right shoulder and was forced to endure a lengthy rehab. He earned exempt status for the first eight events of the 2017 Mackenzie Tour season with a T2 finish at the USA West #1 Q-School earlier this Spring.


“I missed a few putts early on, and that’s typically when I would try and make a birdie or hammer a putt home, but I just kept on trying to hit the right shots and just stay as patient as possible.” – Kramer Hickok on staying patient on the tricky Pine Ridge layout.

“You have to stay below the hole and not short side yourself, and the birdies will come. The greens are firm, the rough’s up pretty good and the pins are on crowns. You can play ping pong if you’re not careful.” – Jhared Hack on the challenge presented by Pine Ridge’s signature Donald Ross-designed greens.

“I gave myself a chance for the weekend. I made a couple of good saves today and rolled in a couple of putts for par. To have a chance going into tomorrow, that’s all I could ask for.” – Johnny Ruiz, who finished T2 at the GolfBC Championship, on having another chance to win this weekend.


Kramer Hickok

25-year old Kramer Hickok is making his fourth career start on the Mackenzie Tour this week. He was a college teammate of Jordan Spieth’s at the University of Texas and is currently a roommate of the two-time major champion.

Hickok owns one pro win earlier this year on the Adams Tour and earned status earlier this year with a T15 finish at the British Columbia Q-School. He currently ranks 44th on the Order of Merit.

Hickok’s finishes on the three events of the season-opening B.C. Golf Swing: T55-T25-T29.

Jhared Hack

27-year old Jhared Hack is making his fourth career start on the Mackenzie Tour this week. He finished T3 earlier this year at the Bayview Place Cardtronics Open presented by Times Colonist and sits 10th on the Order of Merit.

In 2007, Hack won the prestigious Western Amateur, defeating Rickie Fowler and Dustin Johnson in Match Play on the way to the title. He turned pro after one semester at the University of Central Florida and owns 54 wins on various mini tours.

Hack spent the last two years on the Tour, recording three top-25 finishes in 35 starts. He finished 132nd and 109th on the Tour Money List in 2015 and 2016, respectively, and also owns extensive experience on PGA TOUR Latinoamérica, with six top-10s in 25 career starts.

Miscellaneous notes:

  • Weather: 24 degrees Celsius (feels like 27), partly cloudy, winds 6 km/h gusting to 9 km/h.
  • The 36-hole cut came at 2-over par 142, matching the 2014 Players Cup for the highest cut to par on the Mackenzie Tour during the PGA TOUR era (since 2013).
  • Jesse Smith recorded a hole-in-one from 184 yards at the par-3 14th using a 7-iron.
  • The demanding par-3 ninth played to an average of 3.529 and yielded just 3 birdies compared to 67 bogeys and nine double bogeys.
  • Order of Merit leader Robby Shelton was T6 after a 4-under 67 on Friday.
  • Through two rounds, the demanding par-3 ninth hole has played to an average 3.642, yielding just six birdies against 150 bogeys, 23 double bogeys and three others.
  • Click here for scores.
  • Round three tee times will run from 8:10 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. with players teeing off the 1st and 10th tees in threesomes.


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