Hidden Hills Golf Club Gets a Test
JACKSONVILLE, Florida — After shooting his second consecutive 66 early in the afternoon, Rowin Caron talked on the patio of the Hidden Hills Golf Club patio and assumed he would enter the final round of the Jacksonville Championship “two or three shots behind” the leaders. He was wrong. He is the leader. With the wind much stronger in the afternoon, Caron’s score held up, and he will take a one-shot lead into the final round over a trio of players—Argentina’s Leandro Marelli, Scott Wolfes and two-time 2020 champion and Race to The Bahamas Points Standings leader Bryson Nimmer. An additional four players are only two strokes back.
Caron has been solid through 36 holes, carding two bogeys while making up for those miscues with seven birdies in the second round to go his five birdies in the opening round.
“I definitely didn’t have my A game, but I putted really well. My putting is definitely an A. Ball-striking is maybe a C. I need to work on that a little,” said Caron, giving parts of his game letter grades.
As Caron noted, when the putter gets hot the hole can appear a bit larger than normal. At the par-5 fourth, Caron said the hole looked “like the size of a bucket,” which might explain why he was able to roll in a 40-footer from the fringe for birdie. “It went through the humps and a bunch of breaks,” Caron said on the ball’s path to the cup.
It says something when a 40-foot bomb isn’t even the highlight of your putting day. On No. 13, Caron drained a 45-footer from the back-left fringe. Two of those in one round was a pretty indication that things were going his way. “You’re just trying to make a good stroke and get it close to the hole,” he added with a smile.
The native of the Netherlands who played college golf at Florida State played the 2019 season on PGA TOUR Latinoamérica and was set to play there again. He started his season well, tying for third at the Estrella del Mar Open in Mazatlan before that circuit put its schedule on hiatus due to COVID-19. Caron has since moved to Las Vegas, where he lives with LOCALiQ Series member Justin Suh. The two practiced and played and looked for playing opportunities, happy when the PGA TOUR announced the formation of the LOCALiQ Series.
Caron’s last bogey of the day came at No. 17, where his ball plugged right next to a bunker, and he couldn’t make good contact with his club. “Other than that, I’ve been playing solid and making some good putts,” he added.
Lurking is Nimmer, who has been near the top of the leaderboard in four of his five events. Late in his round, he held a share of the lead, getting to 10-under through 15 holes after rolling in a five-footer for birdie at the par-5. He had two good birdie looks on Nos. 16 and 17, just missing both. On the 18th, after hitting his drive into the right rough, he ran into some difficulty and suffered his first bogey of the week.
“I tried to do something that I shouldn’t have tried with that little wedge shot,” he said of his approach to the closing par-4. With a tree in front of him but seeing a small gap, he tried to hit a big hook shot to the middle of the green. I hit right underneath [the ball] and it went straight up and hit a tree and kicked out,” Nimmer said. After an indifferent third-shot chip, he missed an 18-footer for par.
“It happens. You have to do stuff like that sometimes when you’re in contention,” he said, allowing that he probably should have chipped to the front of the green and try to salvage par from there. “You never know. I may not have gotten that up and down, either.”
Marelli was also frustrated with the way his round ended. The Argentine was cruising along at 11-under with two holes to play when he suffered a double-bogey mishap at No. 17. After knocking his ball in the right rough off the tee, he hit his second shot but missed the green, sand getting between the ball and his club. The third shot was more of the same. “It’s been my only bad hole for the week. I’ve played well and been consistent with my putting,” he said.
Did you know Rowin Caron played the 2018 season on the Alps Tour, posting three top-10s? Caron’s best showing was a tie for fourth at the Alps de Andalucia, where he finished at 5-under, five shots behind winner Alexandre Daydou.
Race to The Bahamas Points Standings
Through The Invitational at Auburn University Club
|Pos.||Player (Home Tour)||Points|
|1||Bryson Nimmer (Mackenzie Tour)||1,356.000|
|2||Hayden Shieh (Mackenzie Tour)||600.000|
|3||Stoney Crouch (Mackenzie Tour)||552.333|
|4||Cooper Musselman (Mackenzie Tour)||500.000|
|5||Alex Smalley (Mackenzie Tour)||382.500|
|6||Raul Pereda (PGA TOUR Latinoamérica)||287.017|
|7||Patrick Cover (PGA TOUR Series-China)||271.071|
|8||Justin Suh (PGA TOUR Latinoamérica)||229.958|
|9||David Pastore (Mackenzie Tour)||219.900|
|10||Isaiah Salinda (Mackenzie Tour)||215.583|
- The cut came at 2-under, with 61 players advancing to Friday’s final round.
- The Jacksonville Championship is the first event of the Arcis Golf Florida Swing, which rewards the top two performers in the three LOCALiQ Series tournaments in Florida. Arcis Golf, the premier operator of public, resort and private golf clubs in the United States, has a current portfolio of 60 properties located coast to coast in 13 states, including The Club at Weston Hills—the site of the final event of the Arcis Golf Florida Swing. Arcis Golf will present a $7,500 bonus to the top finisher, with the second-best performer at the events in Jacksonville, Harbor Hills Golf Club in Lady Lake and Weston Hills in Fort Lauderdale taking home $2,500.
- There were 38 sub-70 rounds Thursday compared to 53 in Wednesday’s opening round.
- Scott Wolfes, tied for second, is bogey-free through his first 36 holes. He has gone 40 consecutive holes without a bogey, his last one coming on his 14th hole of the final round of The Invitational at Auburn University Club.
- At No. 2 on the Race to The Bahamas Points Standings, Hayden Shieh had the low score of the round Thursday, firing a 7-under 64 a day after opening with an even-par 71. Shieh made four birdies and five pars on his opening nine then moved to 6-under when he eagled the par-5 fourth, his 13th hole of the round. He gave a stroke back on the next hole with a bogey then closed birdie-par-birdie-par to finish at 7-under and is three shots behind leader Rowin Caron.
- Hayden Shieh has made three cuts and missed two cuts this season, with his first two made cuts resulting in runner-up finishes—at the Alpharetta Classic and The Classic at Callaway Gardens, where he lost in a playoff to Stoney Crouch.
- After getting into the field at the Korn Ferry Tour’s Pinnacle Bank Championship in Omaha, Nebraska, but missing the cut and then doing the same at the LOCALiQ Series’ season-opening Alpharetta Classic, Leandro Marelli opened with a 2-over 74 at The Championship at Echelon Golf Club and then righted the ship. He has played solid golf on the LOCALiQ Series since. The last seven rounds for the native of Casilda, Argentina, are 67-67-69-65-67-66-67 (66.85 average). In his lone PGA TOUR Latinoamérica start this year, in Mazatlan in March, Marelli kept his rounds-in-the-60s trend alive with scores of 69-67-65-65 to tie for seventh.
- Patrick Flavin has shot nothing but under-par rounds in his three LOCALiQ Series starts this season. In his tie for 27th at The Championship at Echelon Golf Club, he fired rounds of 69-71-68 at the par-72 venue. At The Classic at Callaway Gardens, despite missing the cut, Flavin put together back-to-back, 2-under 70s. This week, Flavin opened with a 3-under 68 and followed that with a stellar, 5-under 66 Thursday. Flavin is tied for fifth.
- First-round co-leaders Shintaro Ban and Carson Young went in reverse Thursday, both players shooting identical 1-over 72s after opening with 63s. Ban’s downfall were holes 3 and 13, two par-4s where he made double bogey-6s.
- Overall, it’s been a good week for the Ban brothers. Shintaro Ban held a share of the first-round lead and is tied for ninth with 18 holes to play. He had previously not made a cut in three LOCALiQ Series starts. His older brother, Shotaro Ban, had also not made a cut in three appearances. Shotaro followed his opening, 3-under 68 with an identical 68 Thursday. He’s tied for 18th.
- Cole Miller enjoyed his best LOCALiQ Series round of the season with his Thursday 65. That bettered the 66s he shot in the second rounds at The Championship at Echelon Golf Club and The Invitational at Auburn University Club. With Hidden Hills Golf Club a par-71, all three scores are 6-under efforts. Miller will begin the final round tied for fifth, two shots behind Rowin Caron.
- Bryson Nimmer called his play on the par-3 seventh “the save of the week.” After hitting his tee shot over the green and into the hazard, he found his ball behind a small bush sitting in some mud. With one foot in the water and his front foot even with his stomach, Nimmer hit a flop shot to about a foot for a tap-in par. “Everybody in my group was like, ‘That was unbelievable.’ It was crazy. It was probably the best shot I’ve ever hit,” he said, looking down at his white shorts and white shoes that showed no evidence of what had happened. “I cleaned up well.”
- The 36-hole leader has yet to win a LOCALiQ Series event this season. Bryson Nimmer was tied for second and tied for third, respectively, going into the final round of his two wins. Stoney Crouch was also tied for third, while CooperMusselman was alone in third before coming from behind to win at The Invitational at Auburn University Club. Nimmer (The Championship at Echelon Golf Club) and Musselman both came from three strokes behind on the final day to win.
- David Pastore enters the final round tied for fifth. He shot his second consecutive 67. Of the players who have appeared in all five LOCALiQ Series tournaments, only Pastore and Bryson Nimmer have been under-par in each round.
- Stoney Crouch and Cooper Musselman, the other two champions this season besides Bryson Nimmer, both finished at 2-over and missed the cut.
“It’s scoreable if you hit it in the fairway. You have a lot of wedges into the greens, and the greens are rolling pretty nicely.” –Rowin Caron
“I putted well in Mazatlan, but I was hitting it better, too. It’s always nice to see a couple of long ones go in because you don’t expect it.” –Rowin Caron
“Even going into this week, I wasn’t really hitting it very well. I just managed my game pretty well. It’s nice to play some events again.” –Rowin Caron
“I like the course. It’s very nice. I like the different shots from the tee.” –Leandro Marelli
“It was weird because the ball didn’t get all the way to the top of that slope. It was sitting on the edge of it. But the putt looked like it went in the other direction. I tried to play it for the break and hope that it would still take it, but I think the first three feet it shot right and never came back.” –Bryson Nimmer on his 12-foot missed birdie putt on No. 16
“It’s a lot easier for me right now. I’m not pushing super hard to try to get in the top two because I’m already up there. It takes a lot of pressure off me.” –Bryson Nimmer
“I obviously like where I’m at, and I’m going to go play my game [Friday].” –Bryson Nimmer
“I thought the pins today made it really hard. The wind definitely was blowing a lot harder today, but when you added the wind and where they put some of the pins, that’s what really made it tough.” –Bryson Nimmer
“I took about five months off with COVID. It’s the longest break I think I’ve had since junior golf.
Now I’m getting into form. I’m a guy who if I play three weeks in a row I usually trend up in the second or third week.” –Scott Wolfes
“I’ve just kept the ball in front of me and plodded my way around really well. It’s a course where you put it in the fairway and try to hit it in the quadrants of the greens.” –Scott Wolfes
“There were some pretty good tucked pins today and a little wind. I gave myself a few looks that I took advantage of.” –Scott Wolfes
Next LOCALiQ Series Tournament:
September 30-October 2
The Challenge at Harbor Hills
Harbor Hills Golf Club
Lady Lake, Florida
Second-Round Weather: Sunny and warmer. High of 87. Wind SE at 10-14 mph.