Phoenix, Arizona— After three rounds of play on the Gold Course at Wigwam Golf Resort, UCLA Bruins alum Jake Knapp separated himself from the field, firing the low round of the week, an eight-birdie 65, to take a four-stroke lead into the final round.
Despite leading by two heading into the day, Knapp made a slight adjustment on Thursday that ended up paying dividends.
“I actually switched back to an old driver shaft today because I wasn’t really driving it as well as I would have liked,” said the 24-year old. “It worked out well today, I drove it well and I got the putter rolling which was nice.”
Knapp struck early and often. Battling for a position with fellow long-ball hitter Jamie Sadlowski for most of the day, the Costa Mesa, California native started red-hot, making four birdies in his opening five holes.
“Anytime you can get started hot like that is nice,” said Knapp, who qualified for the U.S. Open in 2015. “On a course like this with how firm it is, course management is really important and that’s somewhere I’ve really improved, leaving myself in good areas on par-5s and not short-siding myself.”
Two years ago, Knapp lapped the field, claiming medallist honours by seven strokes at Mackenzie Tour Q-School in San Jacinto, California, firing 16-under over four days to beat current PGA TOUR players Cameron Davis, Chase Wright and Wyndham Clark.
Sitting at the same number as he did in 2017, this time around through just three days, Knapp will once again play with Jamie Sadlowski and Will Zaratoris in the final round, a grouping that combined for 21 birdies and an eagle on Thursday.
“Playing with Jamie (Sadlowski) and Will (Zaratoris), we were all making a bunch of birdies,” said Knapp. “When you’re playing with guys like that (who are) playing well, it’s easy to build off their momentum and keep it going low.”
With a win on Friday, Knapp would become the first player to win medallist honours at Mackenzie Tour Q-School twice.
- Opening with an eagle, Canadian Jamie Sadlowski showed no ill-effects from a hand injury that troubled him on Wednesday, making seven more birdies before signing for a 67. Q-School execution is nothing new for the 30-year old, who was the co-medallist at the first stage of 2019 Web.com Tour Q-School and finished T9 at Mackenzie Tour Q-School in 2018.
- If Will Zalator’s amateur career, where he peaked at No. 8 on the World Amateur Golf Rankings, is any indication, the type of play we’re seeing this week from the Wake Forrest University alum is to be expected. Zalator was a first-team All-American and aided team USA to victory at the 2017 Walker Cup. The 22-year old shot a third-round 67 to move within four of the lead.
- Jake Byrum, the son of past PGA TOUR winner Curt Byrum and nephew of Tom Byrum, who also won on the PGA TOUR, followed up back-to-back 74s with a 67, the low round from the morning wave, to move to 1-under par for the week.
- Q-School entrants named Sanchez have had a great week in the desert through three days. Alberto Sanchez, who played in the 2012 U.S. Open at Olympic Club as a 17-year old, shot a third-round 69 to move to 8th place. Meanwhile, David Sanchez, who made 14 Web.com Tour starts in 2007, backed up a 69-68 start with a 69 as well, to move to T4. We were unable to obtain comment from former New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez on his namesake’s recent success.
- Finishing his second round with back-to-back birdies to salvage a 73, University of Missouri alum Hayden Buckley returned to form on Thursday, shooting 68 to move to T4.
- There are three Canadians currently within the top 25. Along with Sadlowski; David Rose (T9), and Chris Crisologo (T24) are in good shape heading into the final round.
- University of Alabama alum Dru Love moved his way well into contention on Thursday, making six birdies on his way to a third-round 67. Love is no stranger to going low, having shot 64 in the third round of the RSM Classic this past November, finishing T54 for the week.
“I just played solid and made a few putts. On the front side I didn’t really take advantage of some good looks, I hit a lot of close wedges on the back and had a couple lip-outs from 20 or 30 feet so it could have been crazy low. Overall, it was a good day, and being four back, maybe if I shoot a 65 tomorrow, we can make something happen.” – Will Zalatoris
“I’ve known Jake (Knapp) for a while, so I knew he was long. I was laughing because I was like, ‘I don’t know if I’ve ever, even when I was 12 or 13-years old playing with older guys, been 25 or 30 yards behind guys. I cranked a couple and barely even got in their zip-code.” – Will Zalatoris
“There’s good flow in the group and we’re feeding off each other, that’s probably part of the reason I shot 32 on the back, they started making some more birdies and I decided I should join the party.” – Will Zalatoris
“The hand was okay today, I got some crazy treatment this morning, something I haven’t heard of before. It’s like an electrical shock to your whole body and it’s supposed to restart your whole nervous system. It was actually my lats and my shoulder that was locking up the side of my wrist. I felt a lot better today and I made some birdies. I made a few mistakes, but other than that it was a solid day.” – Jamie Sadlowski
“I hit a good tee shot and a good 8-iron to 18 feet and buried it (on the first hole), it’s good anytime you can start with an eagle. There’re certain holes you have to get out here and No. 1 is one of them, and then No. 10 if you can hit a good tee shot you can get that one too. It was a good day, I kept it in front of me. I made a mistake on 15 and hit a tee shot left and ended up making double, but other than that, I made a lot of birdies and putted beautifully; I made a lot of putts, it was fun.” – Jamie Sadlowski
“I would say putting this year and confidence. Last year I was playing well into Q-School and finished T9 and kind of lost my game and lost confidence and couldn’t get it back, so this year I worked on my wedge game inside 150-yards and putting, which has been a huge upgrade. I’ve put a lot of time into it and it’s starting to pay off.” – Jamie Sadlowski On where his game is at now compared to last season
“I’ll tell you what, the birdies were flying today. If you weren’t making birdies, you were getting lapped today. It was fun, Jake (Knapp) is a great player and shot 65 today and it was effortless and Will (Zalatoris) turned it on, on the back nine.” – Jamie Sadlowski
“This is a great place with great weather, and we’ve been lucky this week to have such a great conditioned golf course. The first two days, I never really got it going, I had a bunch of birdies but a bunch of bogeys. Today I tightened it up a little bit, like I made six bogeys and birdies yesterday and today I only made one bogey.” – Dru Love
“Getting out there and playing really difficult courses with great competition makes you better. I wish I could have had some better finishes in the past few tournaments, but I’ve learned a lot in the past few weeks and months and everything is adding up. I just have to stay patient.” – Dru Love
“It helps to be able to carry the bunkers that are 310 off the tee. If you can get over them and land on downslopes you can hit it 360 easy with this dry air and firm fairways, it just takes off, so I have a little bit of an advantage, but at the same time you can get yourself into trouble if you have 70-yards in the rough you can’t really stop it. Today I hit two drivers in bunkers where I should have hit 2-iron and hit wedge in, so there’s always something you can improve on.” – Dru Love
How the Tournament Works
There are 120 players competing this week with hopes of earning Mackenzie Tour membership for the 2019 season. Below is a breakdown of the status available at each of the six Qualifying Tournaments:
|Medalist||Exempt for the 2019 season|
|2nd through 14th (no ties)||Fully exempt for the first six tournaments and subject to the re-shuffle|
|15th through 40th (plus ties)||Conditionally exempt|
Second-Round Weather: Sunny. High of 28. Wind at 10 KPH.