Three pros and an amateur share 18-hole lead at second Mackenzie Tour Q-School


Pos. Name Scores
T1 Luis Gagne (Costa Rica) 33-34—67 (-5)
T1 Isidro Benítez (Mexico) 36-31—67 (-5)
T1 Cristian DiMarco (U.S.) 34-33—67 (-5)
T1 a-Zack Taylor (U.S.) 34-33—67 (-5)
5 a-Christopher Williard (U.S.) 36-32—68 (-4)
T6 Robert Wilkinson (Canada) 34-35—69 (-3)
T6 Baker Stevenson (U.S.) 34-35—69 (-3)
T6 Brett Walker (U.S.) 36-33—69 (-3)
T6 Cody Blick (U.S.) 33-36—69 (-3)
T6 a-Saptak Talwar (India) 33-36—69 (-3)

Three pros and an amateur share 18-hole lead at second Mackenzie Tour Q-School

HOWEY-IN-THE-HILLS, Florida — It looked like it was going to be a three-way tie for first after the first round of the Mackenzie Tour – PGA TOUR Canada Qualifying Tournament on Tuesday. Then amateur Zack Taylor, playing in the final grouping of the day, turned in his score with darkness setting in.

Make it a quartet of leaders as Taylor joined Luis Gagne, Isidro Benitez and Cristian DiMarco atop the leaderboard, all at 5-under. They lead another amateur, Christopher Williard, by a shot, with five players tied at 3-under and two back.

Gagne was the first to post his 67 on the par-72 El Campeon Course, with the other two pros playing in ideal conditions. A storm that passed over the area in the afternoon forced Taylor to play four of his holes in a steady rain. It didn’t seem to matter to the Pittsburgh native, who is currently a senior at Coastal Carolina in Conway, South Carolina. He made three birdies during the storm that lasted a little over an hour.

“I putted well today. I made a lot of good putts,” said Taylor. “At the start, I made some par putts to keep things going, and toward the middle of the round I hit the ball pretty close and pretty solid, so I had a lot of birdie putts. I made a good bit of what I had.”

Taylor made it to 6-under through 15 holes before a bogey-birdie-bogey-par finish dropped him back a shot.

Gagne, a native of Costa Rica who moved with his family to Florida when he was four, played his front nine in 3-under then was bogey-free over his final nine holes, with three of his six birdies coming on the El Campeon Course’s four par-5s—all on the back nine, at Nos. 10, 14 and 17.

“The course was playing pretty difficult. I did a really good job managing my game. Whenever I did get in trouble, I found a way to get myself back in play with a par putt, and I made most of those par putts,” said the graduate of Orlando Christian Prep, located about an hour from here. “I hit some bad shots but was able to give myself some par putts, and I took advantage of the easy holes out here, which there aren’t many.”

Both DiMarco and Benitez spoke of different routes to get to their 67s. DiMarco said he picked and chose his spots when to be aggressive. “I kept it simple. I took my chances when I could, and when it wasn’t an ‘aggressive’ hole, I played it to the fat of the green.” DiMarco finished his round in style. Sitting at 1-under through 13 holes, the former University of South Florida collegian made four consecutive birdies followed by an 18th-hole par. Benitez had a similarly strong back nine. After struggling with his green reading early on, something clicked with his putting.

“Reading the greens was a problem today, but hopefully tomorrow I can do what I did on my second nine and make a lot of birdies again,” said the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica veteran. “On the second nine I putted really well.”

Did you know Luis Gagne played on two Palmer Cup international teams, recording an overall 5-2-1 record in his eight matches? His first Palmer Cup came in 2018. He went 3-1-0 in four matches, winning his singles match against Stephen Franken in the internationals’ team loss to the U.S. The following year, the international team secured a seven-point triumph over the U.S. at Alotian Golf Club in Arkansas. Gagne posted a 2-1-1 record, halving his singles match with John Augenstein.

Key Information 

How the Tournament Works 

One-hundred-six players entered this tournament, and there are 104 remaining. Below is a breakdown of the various Mackenzie Tour membership statuses available this week.

Finish Position Status
Medalist Exempt membership for the 2021 season
2nd through 6th (no ties


Exempt through the reshuffle, which will occur approximately halfway through the season
7th through 25th (plus ties) Conditional membership


  • This is a 72-hole, no-cut event. There will be playoffs, if necessary, for the medalist position and for the sixth and final position available.
  • Players in this week’s field come from 13 countries and territories (Argentina, Bermuda, Canada, China, Chinese Taipei, Costa Rica, England, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Mexico and Venezuela.
  • Ten players from Canada are competing this week. The leading Canadian after 18 holes is Robert Wilkinson from Dundas, Ontario, at 3-under. He’s tied for sixth. The next-closest Canadian is Brendan Seys, at 1-over. He’s tied for 32nd.
  • After amateur Zack Taylor, who shares the first-round lead, American Christopher Williard is the next-low amateur among the 13 entered. The Stetson University product is a stroke ahead of India native Saptak Talway. Williard enters the second round alone in fifth place, while Talway is tied for sixth. Austin Hitt (2-under) and Grant Haefner (1-under) were the other two amateurs to finish under par through 18 holes.
  • Cristian DiMarco held Mackenzie Tour status in 2018, his rookie season as a professional. He played on PGA TOUR Latinoamérica in 2019.
  • Although he lives in Winter Park, about an hour from here, DiMarco chose to stay close to the course Monday night because of his 8:30 a.m., tee time. With an afternoon tee time Wednesday, DiMarco will sleep with a share of the lead in his own bed. DiMarco is also not unfamiliar with the layout. “I’ve been playing this course for six, seven years,” he said, referring to one college tournament and the Florida state high school tournament held here.
  • In his career, Isidro Benitez has played in 31 PGA TOUR Latinoamérica tournaments, 30 of those as a professional. His lone breakthrough came in 2018, at the 113th playing of the Argentine Open. At Pilar Golf Club, he defeated Russell Budd and Harry Higgs by three strokes. The win was also significant as it earned Benitez an invitation to the 2019 Open Championship, where he missed the cut.
  • With an invitation to the Masters on the line for the champion, Luis Gagne just missed on that opportunity at the 2019 Latin American Amateur, finishing second, two shots behind winner Alvaro Ortiz. As an amateur, Gagne reached as high as No. 24 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking.
  • While playing for LSU, Luis Gagne shared the title at the David Toms Intercollegiate two years in a row. In 2016, he tied with Brandon Pierce, Eric Ricard and Tiger teammate Sam Burns. The following year, Gagne shared the title with Lewis George and LSU teammate Jacob Bergeron.
  • For the first two years of college, Zack Taylor was not a member of the Coastal Carolina golf team. He was studying in the school’s PGA Golf Management Program. He walked on the golf team his junior year and later earned Sun Belt Conference Newcomer of the Year honors.
  • In May 2020, Zack Taylor took a four-shot lead into the final round of the General Hackler Championship at The Dunes Golf & Beach Club in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. He hung on to win by two shots for his lone college title. Following the completion of the Chanticleers’ 2021 season, Taylor intends to turn pro.

What the Players Say

“My coach, Todd Anderson, and I were talking last week, and he said I should go with the mindset of winning, obviously. Then if I don’t but if I play well enough, I’ll be in the top six. Of course, everybody here wants to win, and that’s the goal.” –Luis Gagne

The main thing is to keep doing what I’m doing and stick to my gameplan.” –Luis Gagne

“I still have three rounds. I’ll just keep my head down and give myself the best chance I can.” –Luis Gagne

“I was really happy with my tee shots. I hit really good tee shots all day.” –Isidro Benitez

I hit really good second shots, hitting them really close. Fifteen feet was my longest birdie putt on the back nine.” –Isidro Benitez

“I’ve been playing this course for six, seven years. We had a high school tournament here, States my junior year of high school. I played a college tournament here, too.” –Cristian DiMarco on his experience at Mission Inn

“There are some good par-5s. No. 1 is a tough one. Right out of the gate you have to hit a good drive. Seventeen is tough. I would say 10 and 14 are definitely the ‘aggressive’ holes. They’re shorter par-5s.

–Cristian DiMarco

“The longest putt I made was 17 feet today. Nothing unreasonable. I hit the ball pretty well today. Toward the end I think I was getting a little tired, swirling it left—and right, actually.” –Zack Taylor

“It rained a good bit, but it wasn’t unmanageable. It came down pretty decent at one point. That was actually when I was playing pretty well.” –Zack Taylor on the rain that hampered his final round

“It was good putting. I got a few good breaks off the trees and got a few decent hops so I could get to where I needed to get to hit the next shot.” –Zack Taylor

“It was.” –Zack Taylor on his goal of being a club professional and how his plans have changed

“From where I came from, I’ve had a pretty good college career.” –Zack Taylor on walking on at Coastal Carolina and only playing two years of collegiate golf

First-Round Weather: Overcast and pleasant in the morning. Rain began falling at 2:30 p.m. and lasted until 3:47. Officials never stopped play. High of 78. Wind N at 3-6 mph.