PGA TOUR Canada Q-School – Amateur Duce surges to 36-hole advantage in San Jacinto

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Of course there is golf. Here Paul McConnell from Dallas Texas tees off in the Can-OP Pro-Am.
Of course there is golf. Here Paul McConnell from Dallas Texas tees off in the Can-OP Pro-Am.

Pos. Name Scores
1 a-Briggs Duce (U.S.) 69-69—138 (-6)
2 Norman Xiong (U.S.) 72-67—139 (-5)
T3 Ben Lein (U.S.) 69-71—140 (-4)
T3 Joseph Harrison (U.S.) 72-68—140 (-4)
T5 Lloyd Jefferson Go (Philippines) 70-71—141 (-3)
T5 George Markham (U.S.) 70-71—141 (-3)
T5 Peter Kuest (U.S.) 71-70—141 (-3)
T5 Mitchell Schow (U.S.) 71-70—141 (-3)
T5 Blake Cannon (U.S.) 72-69—141 (-3)
T5 a-Ethan Casto (U.S.) 72-69—141 (-3)

SAN JACINTO, California — SPORTS – It took amateur Briggs Duce a while to make his first birdie during Wednesday’s second round of the Mackenzie Tour Qualifying Tournament at Soboba Springs Golf Club. He even made a bogey before he made a birdie. Once the birdies started, though, they came in bunches. Duce made five birdies in a row to finish his front nine, and he used that run to shoot his second consecutive 3-under 69 to take a one-shot lead over Norman Xiong at the tournament’s halfway point. Ben Lein and Joseph Harrison are tied for third, two strokes behind.

Duce had just posted what he called a “rough-looking bogey,” his tee shot on No. 4 landing on the firm green, the ball bouncing into the rough, where he could not get up and down. That was merely a signal of good things to come for Duce. His first birdie of the day came on the next hole, the first of back-to-back par-5s at Soboba Springs. He missed the green in two, chipped on and drained the putt, and the streak was on. He was on the green in two on No. 6 and routinely two-putted, rolling in a 10-footer on No. 7. He knocked his tee shot to the middle of the green on the par-3 eighth and made a 24-footer there and then finished his front nine with a 13-foot birdie putt to shoot a 32.

“I was just trying to give myself looks, and I was rolling the ball well and they ended up going in,” Duce said.

The birdie binge ended at No. 10. What looked like a straightforward nine-foot birdie putt wasn’t. “There’s actually a decent amount of slope around that hole, and from the angle I was putting on, it kind of runs away. I wanted to make sure I hit a good putt and focus on speed,” he said. “When you try to force birdies, the next thing you know you have a four-footer coming back with a lot of break. I was trying to put a good roll on it, and I pushed it a bit. I wasn’t too disappointed.”

As it did in Tuesday’s first round, the wind picked up considerably in the afternoon, and that led to a few adventures for Duce, as he made three bogeys and two birdies coming in. One of the birdies came at the 18th, allowing him to walk off the course with good thoughts.

“I was fortunate to make some birdies when the wind was a little lower, and I caught some of those holes when they were downwind,” Duce continued. “On the back nine, there are some tough holes. I hit some good shots, but the wind was a little difficult to judge at times. I made some bogeys, but they weren’t necessarily reckless bogeys. I still hit some good shots.”

Looking at scores, Xiong hit the most good shots, his 5-under 67 the best round of the week. His score catapulted him into second place. Xiong’s front-nine scorecard was a sight to behold, however.

Xiong, the former University of Oregon consensus All-American, had no pars on his opening nine. Instead it was a steady diet of birdies—on Nos. 1, 2,3, 6 and 8—and bogeys—on Nos. 4, 5, 7 and 9. The feast-or-famine early showing didn’t hurt Xiong, as he finally made some pars (five of them), and four more birdies for the 67.

“I feel pretty good, pretty solid. I’m just looking forward to the next few days to do what I did the last two,” he explained. “It felt solid. I enjoy playing on this course. The greens are a little tricky, so I’m just trying to be as free as I can out there.”

Nick Cantlay, the first-round leader, began on No. 10 and made the turn at 1-under for the day and 5-under overall. He moved to 6-under with a birdie at the par-4 third hole then stumbled coming in, with bogeys on four of his final six holes. He parred the other two finishing holes to post a 2-over 74. At 2-under, he’s tied for 11th with 36 holes to play.

The leaders—Duce, Xiong and Lein—will tee off at 1 p.m. PDT Thursday on the front nine.

Did you know in 2018, Norman Xiong won four of his final six college tournaments? He won individual honors at the Oregon Duck Invitational by a stroke, he was the medalist at The Goodwin in San Francisco, he shared top honors with Collin Morikawa and George Cunningham at the Annual Western Intercollegiate in Santa Cruz, California, and he edged Brandon Wu to win the NCAA Pacific Regional in Stockton, California.

Key Information 

How the Tournament Works 

One-hundred-six players entered this tournament this week, and 103 remain. 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 eight countries (Australia, Canada, Chinese Taipei, South Korea, Mexico, Philippines, Trinidad and Tobago and the United States).
  • There are 20 amateurs in the field this week, led by overall leader Briggs Duce, at 6-under. Mitchell Schow, a senior at the University of Utah, and Ethan Casto, of Western Washington University in Bellingham, are tied for fifth, at 3-under. Mason Koch of George Fox University in Newberg, Oregon, is at 2-under and tied for 11th. Hunter Epson (Long Beach State) is even-par and tied for 19th with Yung Hua Liu of Chinese Taipei.
  • After only 11 players were able to break par on the opening day, there were 25 under-par scores in Wednesday’s second round.
  • Joseph Harrison is a five-year Mackenzie Tour member, starting in 2015. He last played on Tour in 2019. Harrison moved into contention with his 4-under 68 Wednesday that included a 12-foot birdie effort on No. 9, his final hole of the day. Harrison has played in 57 career Mackenzie Tour tournaments, with his best finish a runner-up showing, with Michael Gligic, to Mark Anguiano, at the 2018 Windsor Championship. Harrison’s 66-65-66-65 performance at the Ambassador Golf Club left him two shots shy of Anguiano.
  • Kolton Lapa had one of the biggest jumps of the day, improving his position by 26 places. He fired a 4-under 68 to go with his opening 74. Lapa, a former Arizona Wildcat golfer who began his college career at Nebraska, is tied for 11th. From 2016 to 2018, Lapa was an assistant coach for the women’s golf team at the University of Denver.
  • Canada’s Tyson Turchanski had the best improvement from one round to the next, opening with a 77 and rebounding with a 2-under 70. He’s at 3-over and tied for 32nd after beginning the day tied for 74th.
  • Through 14 holes, Jeffrey Kang was 1-over for the tournament. He made it back to even with a birdie at the par-5 15th then moved into the top 11 when he holed out from the rough from about 50 yards on No. 17 to move to 2-under, where he finished.
  • Playing well in an International Tour’s Qualifying Tournament is nothing new to Jeffrey Kang. He earned 2018 PGA TOUR Series-China status by capturing medalist honors at the Qualifying Tournament at Mission Hills Golf Club in Haikou. He made eight birdies in the final round on his way to a 6-under 66 and a one-shot win over Australia’s Lucas Herbert, who is playing this week in the PGA TOUR’s Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship.
  • Jeffrey Kang won one official PGA TOUR Series-China event, taking the 2018 season-opening Chengdu Championship at Luxehills International Country Club. After stumbling to an opening-round 74, Kang fired rounds of 64-66-64 to roll to a five-shot win over William Harrold, Callum Tarren and Sejun Yoon.
  • Rak Cho has played 35 solid holes this week and is even-par on those holes. His downfall? The par-3 14th in Tuesday’s opening round, where he made a 12 but still managed to shoot an 82. Cho shaved 11 strokes off his score in the second round, registering a 1-under 71 to move up 30 places on the scoreboard. In addition, he made par at No. 14.

Quotable

“I’m really excited to be in this position.” –Briggs Duce

“I’ve been sticking to my game plan, and it’s been working. I’m just going to keep trying to do that because it’s worked so far.” –Briggs Duce

“Honestly, there’s a lot of golf to play, so it doesn’t really matter. I’ve put myself in a good spot, so I’m not really even thinking about that right now.” –Briggs Duce on his feelings about holding the 36-hole lead

“That’s where I actually caught some momentum today when I went birdie-birdie. And the second one (No. 6) is actually pretty short. As long as you hit a good tee shot, you could have a look at eagle.” –Briggs Duce’s thoughts on the consecutive par-5s on the front nine

“The course overall? I like it. The rough is getting a little longer. When you play in the afternoon, the greens are getting significantly bumpier.” –Briggs Duce

“My ball-striking off the tee was very solid. I was lucky to have some putts drop today.” –Norman Xiong

“I’m not hitting it as far as Norman (Xiong). Norman hits it pretty far. I got a little fatter and a little older. I don’t hit it as far. Now, I think I’ve toned it back a little because when I try to go into that next gear, it’s not there anymore.” –Ben Lein

“I putted pretty good today, pretty decent. I didn’t hit the ball well, at all. [Tuesday] I didn’t hit it well. I missed it in a couple of areas where I shouldn’t have missed it.” –Ben Lein

“I definitely didn’t give myself many looks at birdies today. I had a lot of 30-footers, 25-footers. [Tuesday], I had more 10-footers. I didn’t hit it as close to the hole as I wanted to with the wedge. That was the difference.” –Ben Lein

“I missed in good spots. The course is situated in a way that if you can hit it 300 yards off the tee, you can take advantage of a lot of the holes. Fortunately, I was able to do that today and make a couple of putts.” –Joseph Harrison

“I tied with Gligic there, and he’s done some good things since then. I haven’t quite put it all together yet. I got the pieces. Putting them all together and having them fire at the same time is where I’m at.” –Joseph Harrison

“Usually I hit it good, and I hit it far enough. I usually putt pretty well. If anything, if I’m short-sided or I hit it in the wrong spots, my short game lets me down a little. Today, I was able to get up and down from a few tough spots and hit a lot of greens and had a lot of birdie putts.” –Joseph Harrison


Second-Round Weather: Sunny and cold in the morning. Play began with the temperature at 43. Stayed sunny and was much warmer in the afternoon. High of 70. Wind WNW at 5-9 mph.