|1||Patrick Cover (U.S.)||66-69-66-65—266 (-14)|
|2||a-Alexander Fuchs (France)||67-69-65-68—269 (-11)|
|T3||Ben Wolcott (U.S.)||69-70-70-63—272 (-8)|
|T3||Daniel O’Rourke (U.S.)||69-68-70-65—272 (-8)|
|T5||Luke Schniederjans (U.S.)||68-66-67-72—273 (-7)|
|T5||Austin Morrison (U.S.)||65-70-66-72—273 (-7)|
|T5||Edward Figueroa (Puerto Rico)||70-69-70-64—273 (-7)|
|T5||Patrick Moriarty (U.S.)||68-67-69-69—273 (-7)|
|T5||Jimmy Beck (U.S.)||69-67-69-68—273 (-7)|
|T10||Chris Erwin (U.S.)||66-69-74-67—276 (-4)|
|T10||a-Blake Hathcoat (U.S.)||74-69-64-69—276 (-4)|
|T10||Joey Savoie (Canada)||69-71-66-70—276 (-4)|
|T10||Joshua Goldenberg (U.S.)||68-72-66-70—276 (-4)|
PINE MOUNTAIN, Georgia — It was 224 days ago that Patrick Cover sat on the patio outside the clubhouse at Callaway Gardens Resort. He had just shot a 63 in the final round of the LOCALiQ Series’ Classic at Callaway Gardens. Without scoreboards visible, for a fleeting moment he thought he may have won the tournament or perhaps earned a spot in a playoff. Neither happened as Cover came up a stroke short of both Stoney Crouch and Hayden Shieh. Friday, Cover stood on the same patio.
This time he experienced a little redemption.
The North Carolina native shot a final-round, 5-under 65 to break free from a four-way tie for the lead when the day began to capture medalist honors at the Mackenzie Tour – PGA TOUR Canada’s sixth Qualifying Tournament. Cover enjoyed a stretch of 24 consecutive holes without a bogey, and his 72nd-hole blemish hardly mattered as the former North Carolina-Wilmington golfer finished at a 14-under to defeat amateur and playing partner Alexandre Fuchs by three shots. Hard-charging Ben Wolcott, on the strength of a final-round 63, and Daniel O’Rourke, with a closing 65, tied for third to earn exempt status for the Tour’s first half of the season. Five players tied for fifth, with Luke Schniederjans and Austin Morrison capturing the final two exempt spots.
The day’s storyline, though, belonged to Cover, who turned pro in 2018 and spent the 2019 season playing on PGA TOUR Series-China. Cover started quickly Friday, with a birdie on the opening hole, and he kept extending his lead, with none of the other 54-hole leaders—Fuchs, Morrison and Schniederjans—able to put any pressure on him. Cover birdied Nos. 4 and 6 and then put his approach shot in tight on No. 8, draining the four-footer to move to 4-under for the day and 13-under overall.
“I played really well the last two days. [Thursday] a 66 and 65 today. I had really good control over my ball and putted really well all week,” Cover observed. “After I made the turn (to the back nine), I shot 4-under. I knew I had a pretty good lead. I tried to make it as stress-free as possible, to leave [the ball] below the hole and not give myself too many downhill putts and hit the go-to shot off the tee.”
Cover only made two bogeys over his final 36 holes.
“I’ve been playing pretty well recently, and I’ve had a couple of good tournaments, where I’ve had that two-, three-, four-shot lead with nine holes to play. I’ve done well,” he added.
Fuchs didn’t get off to the best start, playing alongside Cover and Morrison in the final group. He was 1-over through seven holes. He got things going when he hit his approaches close on both eight and nine for no-sweat birdies to turn at 1-under. Even after hitting a tough patch, a 2-over stretch between Nos. 10 and 14, he finished birdie-birdie-par-birdie to take second by himself. His four-day performance will also force him into a decision, but his work this week may have decided things for him. The senior at Liberty University has the option to return to school because of the NCAA-allowed “COVID year” offered because it canceled so many sports last year. With a place to play this summer, the pro ranks are in Fuchs’ immediate future once Liberty’s season concludes.
“After starting the day a bit frustrated, I turned it around on the last 11 holes. There were a couple of lucky approaches I had on the back nine, and I was able to sink my putts for birdies. I had one where my lie was next to a birdhouse, and I just prayed I would hit it somewhere close to the pin,” he said. “My prayer worked. Then, on 18, I was in the tall grass (on his drive), and somehow I was able to turn that into another birdie.”
Did you know Ben Wolcott earned conditional PGA TOUR Latinoamérica membership via a 2019 Qualifying Tournament in Mazatlán, Mexico. He has played in two PGA TOUR Latinoamérica tournaments and also made one Korn Ferry Tour start.
How the Tournament Worked
Ninety-four players entered this tournament and 85 completed all 72 holes. Below is a breakdown of the various Mackenzie Tour membership statuses players earned this week.
|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)
- With five players tied for fifth, the quintet played off for the final two exempt positions that will last through the season’s first half. Luke Schniederjans made a birdie on the first extra hole to become the first player to advance, while Puerto Rico’s Edward Figueroa dropped out with a bogey. That left Patrick Moriarty, Austin Morrison and Jimmy Beck to continue for the final spot. Moriarty fell from contention with a bogey on the second extra hole (No. 2). On No. 3, both Morrison and Beck made pars, and on the fourth sudden-death hole—No. 4—Morrison dripped in a nine-foot birdie putt from above the hole that Beck couldn’t match. Morrison joins Schniederjans as an exempt player through the first half of the year, while Beck is conditionally exempt. About the putt above the hole, Morrison quipped, “I didn’t make it easy on myself.” He was alluding to that putt and his finish in regulation.
- On his 72nd hole of the tournament, Austin Morrison faced a 15-footer for birdie. A two-putt par from there would have kept him at 8-under and in a three-way tie for third. Instead, Morrison rolled his birdie putt five feet past the hole and then missed the comebacker for par, putting him into overtime. There was a happy ending about 45 minutes later for the former William & Mary star, however, when he birdied the fourth extra hole to secure the final exempt spot.
- Two players—amateur Tyler Copp and Noah West—both tied for 26th, missing by a stroke earning conditional membership that went to the players who finished outside the top six but inside the top 25.
- The low round of the day—and the tournament—belonged to Ben Wolcott, who fired a 7-under 63. He was on the 15th hole when officials halted play for lightning. He went back out and parred that hole to stay at 5-under for the day. He added birdies on Nos. 16 and 18 to finish a back-nine 31, good for a tie-for-third finish.
- Thursday night, Ben Wolcott received a text from his friend, PGA TOUR Latinoamérica player Josh Seiple. Seiple wrote that “somebody has to back-door it from down low, so why not you?” He was referring to Wolcott beginning the day tied for 16th but sneaking into the top six with a strong finish. “That was the mentality I stuck with all day,” Wolcott said.
- At 3-under through 10 holes, Ben Wolcott missed the par-4 in regulation and faced a 20-footer for par that he proceeded to pour in. “That was probably the one that kept me going,” he said. Wolcott was 4-under the rest of the way.
- Chris Erwin rebounded nicely from his third-round 74 to shoot a 3-under 67. That left him at 4-under and tied for 10th with three others, good for conditional status.
- Amateur William Nottingham helped himself immensely on the final day, shooting a 5-under 65—four shots better than his previous best score this week—to move from a tie for 33rd when the day began into a tie for 15th and conditional status. The Clemson Tiger was 5-under on his front nine.
- Patrick Cover and Alexandre Fuchs were the only two players to shoot four rounds in the 60s this week.
- Although Edward Figueroa dropped out early from the five-players-for-two-spots playoff, his final-round 65 was impressive as he did what was necessary to get into the extra session. The Puerto Rico native shot four par-or-better rounds this week (70-69-70-64).
- No. 2 was not the most-difficult hole for a fourth consecutive day. That honor went to No. 11, also a par-4 converted from a par-5. The 11th hole had a stroke average of 4.482 compared to a 4.365 for No. 2. The easiest hole was No. 16. The par-5 played to a 4.529 average Friday.
- There were 23 under-par scores Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. In the second round, only 19 players were under-par.
“It’s exciting. Coming from PGA TOUR China, we haven’t exactly known what’s going on the last year and a half. It’s nice to get a new card on a new Tour. I’m excited to tee it up this summer regardless of where we’re going to play.” –Patrick Cover
“I talk about that a lot with my grandfather—to make it as easy on yourself as possible, to try not to give yourself five-footers for par late in the round.” –Patrick Cover
“I was kind of on a little bit of a roll there until the rain delay hit.” – Ben Wolcott on his birdie-birdie streak on Nos. 13 and 14 when the delay hit
“I didn’t really have a number. I just knew if I gave myself a bunch of looks that today the putts were going to go in.” –Ben Wolcott on his thoughts going into the final round
“I am very excited. I didn’t have a ton of pressure on myself to qualify this year as I had an extra year of collegiate eligibility because of COVID, but I’m so happy I did. I feel very blessed.” –Alexandre Fuchs
“It was really nice to have the family I’ve been staying with come and watch me. I was glad to have played so well for them.” –Alexandre Fuchs
“What’s next? Well, I am going to play a match-play tournament with my collegiate team on Monday.” –Alexandre Fuchs on his upcoming plans to compete in the Liberty-hosted Liberty Invitational in Amherst, Virginia
Final-Round Weather: Overcast and cooler, with a high of 70. At 1:18 p.m., officials suspended play due to a dangerous weather condition. The delay that included steady rain for most of the delay lasted 1 hour and 22 minutes., with play resuming at 2:40 p.m. Wind NW at 5-8 mph, with gusts to 10 mph.