Kang battles back from triple bogey, eagles 18 to win California Q-School

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The Mackenzie Tour - PGA TOUR Canada Staal Foundation Open
The Mackenzie Tour - PGA TOUR Canada

Pos. Name Scores
1 Jeffrey Kang (U.S.) 73-69-67-71—280 (-8)
2 Joseph Harrison (U.S.) 72-68-72-70—282 (-6)
T3 David Longmire (U.S.) 72-70-74-67—283 (-5)
T3 Jeffrey Swegle (U.S.) 74-71-68-70—283 (-5)
5 Shintaro Ban (U.S.) 72-71-70-71—284 (-4)
T6 George Markham (U.S.) 70-71-71-73—285 (-3)
T6 a-Briggs Duce (U.S.) 69-69-74-73—285 (-3)
T8 Peter Kuest (U.S.) 71-70-77-68—286 (-2)
T8 Andrew Paisley (U.S.) 76-71-72-67—286 (-2)
T8 a-Mitchell Schow (U.S.) 71-70-74-71—286 (-2)
T8 Norman Xiong (U.S.) 72-67-78-69—286 (-2)
T8 a-Ethan Casto (U.S.) 72-69-72-73—286 (-2)
T8 Jake Staiano (U.S.) 72-70-72-72—286 (-2)
T8 Ben Lein (U.S.) 69-71-74-72—286 (-2)

SAN JACINTO, California—Jeffrey Kang had just made a triple bogey-7 on No. 7 during Friday’s final round of the Mackenzie Tour – PGA TOUR Canada Qualifying Tournament at Soboba Springs Golf Club. He dropped to 3-over for the day, his three-stroke lead he held when the day began completely gone. He would make one more bogey on his front nine, shoot a 4-over 40 and suddenly just finishing among the top six was a prevailing thought.

But, what, Kang worry?

“I was surprisingly very calm after that,” he said of his immediate feelings following the triple bogey. “I didn’t think I was in trouble or anything, which was weird. I knew my game was there. I just needed to be patient. It was just one bad hole, and I’m glad I stuck to that.”

Prescient thinking, there. Kang quickly righted things, made a birdie at No. 10, added an eagle at the 15th and then decided to make it two eagles on his final nine—the last one in dramatic fashion on the 18th hole—to win the event by two shots over Joseph Harrison. Kang, a Southern California native who played college golf at USC, will be totally exempt for every Mackenzie Tour tournament on the 2021 schedule. Harrison and four others—David Longmire, Jeffrey Swegle, Shintaro Ban and George Markham—all secured full status for the season’s first half.

“Gritty day. Tough start,” Kang said when he realized he had won the tournament moments after leaving the scoring area. “After seven, basically my head was to get it back to even(-par) for the day. That’s all I really thought about.”

As he fought back, Kang stood on the 18th tee right where he wanted to be, the birdie and eagle getting him to his goal. As it turned out, unbeknownst to him, he was tied for the lead. Kang had one thought for the closing par-5: Hit a good tee shot, which he did, landing his ball in the middle of the fairway.

“I was in really good position. That’s all I wanted to do,” Kang said. Although he hit his second-shot approach shot over the green, the ball stopped just on the green’s fringe and he had a putt from 30 feet. “I actually didn’t know where anybody was at (on the leaderboard).

“Obviously, I needed good speed,” he said of his final putt of the tournament. “I didn’t want to leave it short. I don’t like doing that with my eagle putts. All I focused on was my speed. I thought I had a good lie, and it went in. Making eagle was a bonus. It was a good finish.”

So good that a birdie would have done the trick. Either way, his victory gives him Mackenzie Tour membership for the first time since 2016.

Meanwhile, Harrison was more than happy with his final-round 70 that secured him second-place honors. When the month began, he entertained thoughts of withdrawing from this event when he injured his back during a workout.

“Coming into this week, I would have probably taken a top-25 because I’ve been battling some lower-back problems. Two months ago I was basically not even able to swing.” Harrison will have a few months to continue to heal as he prepares for a Tour with which he is familiar. He’s played in 57 Canada tournaments between 2015 and 2019. His tie for second with Michael Gligic at the 2018 Windsor Championship is his career-best finish.

The Mackenzie Tour continues its Qualifying Tournament march next week with another qualifier, at The Wigwam, in the Phoenix, Arizona, suburb of Litchfield Park. It will be another Tuesday-to-Friday event.

Did you know Jeffrey Kang is one of three USC Trojans to win the Amer Ari Invitational college tournament in Hawaii? He became the first USC player to capture the individual title when he won in 2012. Former Mackenzie Tour member Rico Hoey followed that win five years later, and in 2018 current PGA TOUR Latinoamérica member Justin Suh was the champion.

Key Information 

How the Tournament Worked 

One-hundred-six players entered this tournament this week, and 101 finished all 72 holes. Below is a breakdown of the various Mackenzie Tour membership statuses players earned this week.

Finish Position Status
Medalist

Jeffrey Kang

Exempt membership for the 2021 season
2nd through 6th (no ties)

Joseph Harrison

David Longmire

Jeffrey Swegle

Shintaro Ban

George Markham

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

a-Briggs Duce

Peter Kurst

Andrew Paisley

a-Mitchell Schow

Norman Xiong

aEthan Casto

Jake Staino

Ben Lein

Carson Schaake

Corey Shaun

Derek Castillo

Blake Cannon

Luke Kristo

a-Hunter Epson

Kolton Lapa

Lloyd Jefferson Go

a-Yung Hua Liu

Connor Blick

Grant Booth

Chris Yeom

Conditional membership

 

  • Two months ago, Joseph Harrison was weightlifting and working out with a friend, doing dead lifts. During the course of the workout, Harrison fell to the ground and, as he noted, “couldn’t get up for 10 minutes. I saw a chiropractor a few times and went to a massage therapist every week for about a month. Up until three weeks ago I wasn’t able to even full swing. From where I was three weeks ago to finishing second today, I’m very happy.”
  • Joseph Harrison was par or better in all four of his rounds, opening with an even-par 72 in the first round and matching that in the third. He fired a 68 in the second round and closed with a 70. “I knew if I was able to full swing, I could contend,” he added.
  • This Qualifying Tournament was the first PGA TOUR-affiliated Tour tournament Jeffrey Swegle has ever played. The former Stanford player will make his official debut later this year when the Mackenzie Tour begins its season.
  • Blake Cannon had a disappointing finish to his tournament. As he made the turn to the back nine, he held the lead, but his fortunes came apart, starting at No. 13. Cannon hit his drive into the junk on the right side of the fairway, and his lie forced him to lay up. He couldn’t get up and down, and he recorded his first bogey of the day after three birdies and nine pars. On the next hole, the par-3 14th, he hit his tee shot left, out of bounds. Cannon reloaded only to hit his next shot into the water on the right. From there, he got up and down, making a nice eight-footer for triple bogey. Cannon shot a 3-over 75 to tie for 15th.
  • Shintaro Ban was able to accomplish what he came to do. Entering the week, Ban held conditional Mackenzie Tour status he earned a year ago at the final Qualifying Tournament the Mackenzie Tour held prior to the Tour canceling the remainder of the qualifying season and the regular season because of the pandemic. Ban opened with an even-par 72 then followed with a 71-70-71 finish that left him at 4-under and alone in fourth place.
  • After graduating from UNLV, Shintaro Ban played his rookie professional season on the 2019 Mackenzie Tour. In 10 tournaments, he made three cuts and finished 123rd on the Order of Merit.
  • Briggs Duce had a solid tournament, the amateur coming up short in his quest to earn full status for the first half of the season. The University of Arizona senior was on the outside looking in when he arrived at the 18th tee. At 1-under for the tournament, he hit his second-shot approach into the left rough on the par-5. From there he chipped in for eagle, which was enough to get him into a playoff with George Markham. The two finished regulation tied for sixth, and they held a sudden-death playoff, with Markham prevailing on the third extra hole.
  • Like Jeffrey Swegle, George Markham had never appeared in a PGA TOUR-affiliated Tour tournament until this week. Markham played his college golf at the Colorado School of Mines in Golden, the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Golf of the Year in 2019.
  • Soboba Springs’ toughest hole Friday was the par-4 seventh hole, with a stroke average of 4.624. No player made birdie there in the final round, the only hole that didn’t yield a birdie. The next-closest hole in that category y was No. 16, with only four birdies.
  • The easiest hole was again No. 18. A day after players played the hole in an average of 4.60 strokes, the number dropped to 4.40 Friday. Of the 15 eagles in the final round, nine came at No. 18—two in the same group (champion Jeffrey Kang and Briggs Duce).
  • The top amateur finisher of the 20 in the field was Briggs Duce. He tied for sixth and will be conditionally exempt for 2021. Other amateurs to earn conditional status were Mitchell Schow and Ethan Casto (tied for eighth). Hunter Epson tied for 20th, and Chinese Taipei’s Yung Hua Liu tied for 24th. They, too, earned conditional status.
  • With considerably better weather Friday compared to the third round, there were seven rounds in the 60s. Only two players had sub-70 rounds the day before.
  • The low 18-hole score this week was a 5-under 67, shot by Jeffrey Kang (third round), David Longmire (final round), Andrew Paisley (final round), Norman Xiong (second round) and Ben Boyle (final round).
  • When the day began, David Longmire was tied for 14th after a disappointing, 2-over 74 in the third round. All he did Friday was shoot a best-of-the-day 67 to move into a tie for third, with Jeffrey Swegle. Longmire has played in one official PGA TOUR-affiliated Tour tournament, the 59th Mexican Open on PGA TOUR Latinoamérica, where he missed the cut in Tijuana.
  • Canadian Shane Crampton and American Jon Scolari were the two players who missed earning conditional status by a shot. They tied for 27th, at 4-over.
  • Ben Boyle didn’t earn any status this week, but he did acquit himself well in the final round, shaving 11 strokes off his third-round score by posting 5-under 67. He finished at 8-over and tied for 38th.

Quotable

“It was really just one bad hole. I couldn’t get anything to go in in the beginning—all pars. It was just a bad decision, a bad shot on that hole. To fight back and shoot 1-under is a great day.” –Jeffrey Kang on his triple bogey on his early struggles Friday 

“I was in the right rough, I had to cut one around a tree and I kind of hit it fat. It just went straight and bounced out of bounds. I had to take a drop and take another shot. I didn’t get up and down and took triple. I don’t really regret the decision to do that. I committed to it. I just hit a bad shot.” –Jeffrey Kang on his his shot decisions and his triple bogey

“I was just really proud of myself to finish that way after that front nine. Whatever happened after that was not really a big deal to me. I was just really happy with the way I finished.” –Jeffrey Kang

“I was really calm the whole day. Nothing really got to me, I felt like. I knew the guys in my group were doing well. There was nothing I could do to change that. I just needed to play my game. I felt good. No nerves. I guess I got a little nervous after seven, but that was probably about it. I was very calm.” –Jeffrey Kang 

“The experience of playing for so long helped.” –Jeffrey Kang on his response to his front-nine triple bogey

“I’m thrilled with the outcome. I obviously would have liked to have placed first and gotten full status guaranteed, but it’s basically full status, and I’m very happy with where I ended up this week.” –Joseph Harrison

“It feels great. I have a place to play. That’s exciting.” –Jeffrey Swegle

“I was really happy with it. This is a really tough course, and they had a lot of tough pins. I felt like I managed my game really well.” –Jeffrey Swegle 

“I didn’t look at the scores at (No.) 9. I started the day thinking that getting to 5(-under) would probably be in, and it would probably take 7(-under) or better to win. I was just going off that.” –Jeffrey Swegle

Final-Round Weather: Co. Play began with the temperature at 45. Warmed to 64 in the afternoon, with wind S at 1-3 mph.