WESTON, Florida — The final round of the second PGA TOUR Canada Qualifying event proved a difficult one for all involved, but amateur Jonathan Yaun was able to battle through the windy conditions and walk away the clear victor. Yaun fired an even-par 72 Friday, giving the 22-year-old Liberty University senior a five-stroke victory over a trio of players at Mission Inn Resort and Club. His win secured him membership for the entire 2023 PGA TOUR Canada season.
John Pak, the former Florida State University standout and top-ranked PGA TOUR University player in 2021, was the co-leader after round two, but after shooting a 4-over in the final round, tied for second with George Kneiser and Cole Bradley. They all finished with a 7-under 281 to also earn PGA TOUR Canada status. Others picking up guaranteed starts in the first half of the PGA TOUR Canada season are recent Texas Tech graduate, Kyle Hogan, who moved up one spot in the final round, to finish 6-under and alone in fifth. Canadian Thomas Giroux, who led Yaun by one stroke after the third round, which players completed Friday morning due to suspended play from Thursday, shot an 8-over 80 but still qualified, finishing sixth. Bryce Emory, Ryder Sutcliffe and Brian Richey all tied at seventh, at 3-under, while Michael Sweeney fell three positions after shooting a 3-over 75 in the final round but was able to hold on for the No. 10 spot and the coveted exemption into PGA TOUR Canada through at least the reshuffle.
But in the end, it was Yaun’s week, especially as he pulled ahead down the stretch Friday.
“I’ve won out here (before), so I just had that mentality that I could do it,” Yaun said. “Last week I played in this similar type of wind, so I thought I’d be ready for that, but I didn’t play very well. Today was really tough, I’ve never played this course in that hard of conditions.”
Yaun began his final round with a bogey-6 but bounced back on No. 2 with a birdie. He had a stretch, starting at No. 3, where he made 11 consecutive pars. Birdies and Nos. 14 and 17 offset bogeys on two of his final three holes.
The wind definitely took its toll on all the scores in the final round. The lowest score shot Friday was a 2-under 70 by Cameron Willis, who was able to make a huge jump of 25 positions up the leaderboard to finish with conditional status.
Did you know, this isn’t the first time George Kneiser has found himself tied near the top of the leaderboard at the end of a PGA TOUR Canada Qualifying event at Mission Inn? Kneiser, a native of Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, and a University of Wisconsin product, played in last year’s qualifier and finished 7-under and tied for eighth. He ended up securing one of the two exemptions up for grabs in a five-players-for-two-spots playoff. Kneiser earned his spot a year ago thanks, in part, to a final-round 65.
How the Tournament Worked
The PGA TOUR Canada and PGA TOUR Latinoamérica are international PGA TOUR-sanctioned tours that provide access to the Korn Ferry Tour and are part of the pathway to the PGA TOUR. Since its inception in 2013, the PGA TOUR Canada has held 32 Qualifying Tournaments across the U.S. and Canada. This event was the second of six PGA TOUR Canada Qualifiers scheduled prior to the 2023 season. Each qualifier is a 72-hole, no-cut event, with playoffs, if necessary, for the medalist position and for the 10th and final position available.
One-hundred-thirty-one players started the tournament, with 110 completing all 72 holes. Below is the breakdown of the various PGA TOUR Canada membership statuses players earned this week.
|Exempt membership for the 2023 season|
|2nd through 10th (no ties)
|Exempt through the reshuffle, which will occur approximately halfway through the season|
|2nd through 10th (no ties)
Bennett Wisner, Jr.
- Players in this week’s tournament came from nine countries or territories: Canada, China, Hong Kong, Ireland, Japan, Slovakia, Sweden, South Korea and the United States. A total of 12 Canadians finished this Q-School, the second-largest player contingent represented, outside of the United States.
- Thomas Giroux finished as the top Canadian this week, finishing alone in sixth (5-under 283). Giroux was actually the 54-hole leader after finishing his third round earlier in the morning. He headed into the afternoon with a one-stroke lead on the eventual winner Jonathan Yaun.
- After the tough conditions on the course in the final round, no player finished shooting four rounds under par. There were six players who had a chance to make it four under-par rounds in a row, however Jonathan Yaun, John Pak,Cole Bradley, Thomas Giroux and Nicholas Tenuta couldn’t claim under-par scores Friday. Teddy Tetek was the only player to shoot under par in his last three rounds after shooting a 78 in his first round of play. He tied for 22nd, with a 2-over 290.
- This is Brandon Lacasse’s third Q-School at Mission Inn. He previously has played in two PGA TOUR Latinoamérica qualifiers, where he tied for 25th (2021) and 17th (2022) to gain conditional status. His last PGA TOUR Canada Q-School came in Weston, Florida, where he tied for 39th. He just missed earning status by two strokes. Friday, he tied for 33rd, a stroke out of the last qualifying spot. Lacasse shot 6-over in his final round.
- There were 20 amateurs in the field this week, with Jonathan Yaun winning the tournament. South Korea’sDongjin Park was the next-top amateur performer. He finished in 11th place, earning conditional status along with American’s Thomas Dunsire and Andrew Farraye, who tied for 17th, David Nyfjall and Trey Davis (tied for 25th) and David Timmins and Johnny Travale, who squeaked in with conditional status, tying for 28th.
- With no rounds below 70 Friday, nine players posted under-par rounds, with an additional finishing at even-par. The course’s hardest hole Friday was the par-4 No. 7, with only two birdies made on that hole. There were 19 players who recorded double bogeys or worse there.
From the Clubhouse
“It’s crazy. I know about 10 or 15 guys this week who are playing at Bay Hill (PGA TOUR’s Arnold Palmer Invitational), and a few years back they were still in college. Just to see that and realize, it could be just a couple more years of playing—getting the experience of playing in Canada and hopefully getting through to the Korn Ferry and then the PGA TOUR—I mean, who knows, it takes just a couple good weeks and you can become a PGA TOUR member. So, it’s very exciting. – Jonathan Yaun on how quick the path to the PGA TOUR can be
“I just tried to stay in it today. It was really windy; it was a grind fest.” – Cole Bradley
“It means a lot, to come out in my first Q-School and finish second. It shows that all my hard work has been paying off.” –Cole Bradley
“I was pretty excited when I saw it was windy because I knew I could stay patient and pick up some easy shots on guys if they got frustrated. The whole goal of the week was to get status, and it looks like that’s a done deal.” – Kyle Hogan
Final-Round Weather: Mostly sunny, with a high near 90. Wind S at 10-15 mph, increasing to 20 mph in the afternoon. At one point, gusts reached as high as 35 mph.