PGA TOUR Canada Q-School It’s amateurs ahead at The Wigwam as Garewal and Hong share lead

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Wil Bateman - PGA TOUR Canada image
Wil Bateman - PGA TOUR Canada image

LITCHFIELD PARK, Arizona—The wind didn’t blow nearly as hard in Wednesday’s second round of the PGA TOUR Canada Qualifying Tournament at The Wigwam. That didn’t mean the scores would be appreciably better. Two amateurs, Jason Hong and first-round co-leader Viraj Garewal, are at 4-under, and the duo holds a one-stroke advantage over Henry Lee and Blake Tomlinson. John Sand and Chris Francoeur are two shots back.

While birdies weren’t necessarily hard to come by on day two as the wind laid down, it was bogeys players had difficulty keeping off their cards. How tough has The Wigwam been this week? Only two players—Garewall and Lee—have managed a pair of under-par scores through 36 holes. The field stroke average is at 74.3 on the par-72 layout.

Hong definitely felt the difference in the course during the two days. One thing that hasn’t changed, though, is the firmness of The Wigwam’s greens.

“I think it’s important to be on the fairway on this course so you can spin the ball on these greens because these greens are so firm right now. That’s going to be key,” said Hong, who hit eight greens in regulation in the first round and 15 in Wednesday’s second round. “I hit the ball really great today. [The course] played so differently to [Tuesday].”

Hong’s score was also different, as he shaved four strokes off his opening effort. Wednesday, he made five birdies and one bogey, with three of his birdies coming in succession, starting at No. 12. Hong hit wedge-shot approaches on 12 and 13 to 10 feet, respectively, then stuffed his 9-iron approach on the 14th to five feet.

Garewal did Hong one better, with a four-in-a-row birdie stretch toward the end of his day. He had tap-in birdies, at the 14th and 16th, he made a three-foot downhill birdie putt at the 13th and a four-footer on the 17th. That was the good. On both sides of the birdie stretch was a double bogey at the 13th and a bogey to close for the bad.

“I hit one bad tee shot, mostly a strategy error,” said Garewal of his double bogey. “It was a bad decision off the tee. That was a frustrating hole, but I was able to move on from it.” Garewal bogeyed his closing hole, with what he called a “silly three-putt” and “a frustrating way to end.”

The tightly packed leaderboard shows 12 players within four shots of Hong and Garewal’s lead.

Did you know Jason Hong began his college career at Purdue after moving from his native Lidcombe, Australia? After graduating from Purdue, he made the decision to transfer to Lipscomb University in Tennessee, where he is currently a graduate student.

How the Tournament Works 

PGA TOUR Canada, along with 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, PGA TOUR Canada has held 32 Qualifying Tournaments across the U.S. and Canada. This event is the fourth of six 2023 PGA TOUR Canada Qualifiers scheduled in advance of 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-twenty-six players started the tournament Tuesday. Below is a breakdown of the various PGA TOUR Canada membership statuses available this week.

Finish Position Status
Medalist Exempt membership for the 2023 season
2nd through 10th (no ties)

 

Exempt through the reshuffle, which will occur approximately halfway through the season
11th through 30th (plus ties) Conditional membership

  • Players in this week’s field come from 13 countries or territories: Australia, Canada, China, Costa Rica, England, Germany, Mexico, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Puerto Rico, Sweden, Thailand and the United States.
  • Henry Lee earned conditional PGA TOUR Canada status a year ago at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail at Highland Oaks in Dothan, Alabama. He tied for 16th that week, with Kyle Vance, and eventually saw action in three tournaments, missing the cut in all three. Despite shooting a final-round 68 in Alabama, Lee made a double bogey-6 on the closing hole. Had he parred the hole, he would have been in a playoff for one of the last spots that would have guaranteed him PGA TOUR Canada starts last season.
  • With two under-par rounds to open this week’s tournament, Henry Lee has fired under-par scores in his last five PGA TOUR Canada Qualifying Tournament rounds. He finished 69-70-68 a year ago at the Dothan qualifier and began 71-70 this week.
  • First-round co-leader Jack Trent fell off the pace Wednesday, shooting 2-over 74. He dropped into a tie for seventh. Trent bogeyed two of his final three holes and had five bogeys overall.
  • Jason Hong’s first round looked entirely different from his second round. While he made three bogeys in succession to open this Qualifying Tournament, Wednesday he made three birdies in a row. Wednesday he only had one bogey on his card vs. a day earlier when he had the three bogeys and a double bogey.
  • Amateur Kirk White and Shane Muldowney made big improvements on day two even though they didn’t move much on the scoreboard. Following his opening 14-over 86 in the challenging, windy conditions, White shot a 75, and he’s tied for 121st. Muldowney improved by 10 strokes (88-78), and he’s alone in 125th place.
  • Two of the biggest movers up the leaderboard Wednesday were amateurs, Chase Sienkiewicz and Chaz Aurilia. Following his 4-over 76 to begin the tournament, Sienkiewicz enjoyed a 2-under 70 that took him from a tie for 51st when the day began into a tie for 19th. Aurilia shares 62nd place after he went from an 80 to a 1-under 71. Aurilia is a member of the University of Arizona team but grew up in the vicinity of The Wigwam, in Phoenix. Aurilia played one season for UCLA before transferring to Arizona. He had an interesting, six-hole stretch to finish his round, starting at No. 13, with a bogey. He followed that with an eagle-bogey-birdie-par-bogey finish.
  • Mexico’s Alejandro Santibanez was bogey-free Wednesday. The problem was his only scorecard blemish was a double bogey. After opening his day with two birdies and 10 pars, he made the double at the par-4 13th. He bounced right back to recover both lost strokes with an eagle-3 at the 14th. Santibanez is tied for 29th.
  • The hardest hole in the second round was the par-4 13th, with a stroke average of 4.469. Only five players made birdie there Wednesday. The easiest hole was the par-5 first hole, yielding 56 birdies and two eagles for a 4.615 cumulative average.

Twenty-six amateurs began this week. After 36 holes, 25 are still playing. The top performers are Jason Hong and VirajGarewal, at 4-under and tied for the overall lead.

Here are all the amateurs’ results and where they stand:

Pos. Amateur Score
T1 Viraj Garewal (U.S.) 140 (-4)
T1 Jason Hong (Australia) 140 (-4)
T19 Chase Sienkiewicz (U.S.) 146 (+2)
T19 Hector Barnetche (Mexico) 146 (+2)
T19 Jordan Lee (U.S.) 146 (+2)
T29 Peyton Callens (Canada) 147 (+3)
T29 Roberto Nieves (Puerto Rico) 147 (+3)
T29 Jack Boulger (U.S.) 147 (+3)
T39 Spencer Tibbits (U.S.) 148 (+4)
T39 Jack Madden (U.S.) 148 (+4)
T48 Colin Sikkenga (U.S.) 149 (+3)
T54 Youssef Guezzale (U.S.) 150 (+6)
T54 AJ Ott (U.S.) 150 (+6)
T62 Chaz Aurilia (U.S.) 151 (+7)
T62 Luke Gifford (U.S.) 151 (+7)
T62 Carson Lundell (U.S.) 151 (+7)
T57 Steve Sugimoto (U.S.) 152 (+8)
T94 Joe Neuheisel (U.S.) 152 (+8)
T94 Calvin McCoy (U.S.) 154 (+10)
T70 Jakob Craft (U.S.) 154 (+10)
T116 Zach Lambros (U.S.) 160 (+16)
T121 Kirk White (U.S.) 161 (+17)
125 Shane Muldowney (U.S.) 166 (+22)
127 Jackson Wolfe (U.S.) 170 (+26)
130 David Buttner (Canada) 176 (+32)
WD Colin Gibson (U.S.)  

The Players say…

“I just kept hanging in there. I was hitting good shots, but I would miss the green and then make some good up and downs. I missed a few birdie putts.” –Viraj Garewal

I felt like I was stuck in neutral all day, hitting good shots but not really making anything. I was not being hyper aggressive, given the pins, which is good.” –Viraj Garewal

“My goal is to be on the PGA TOUR, and this is a step for me to get there.” –Jason Hong

“I felt like today I could get a little more aggressive. Honestly, par was good out there.” –Henry Lee

“I stuck to my gameplan pretty well for the first 36 holes. I didn’t make a ton of mistakes. I’m really, really happy with the way I played and excited for the next two days.” –Henry Lee

“I wasn’t looking to shoot 65 on day one, but just to be in contention after round one gave me a lot of confidence going into round two today. It gave me a lot of confidence that I can play this golf course in extremely hard conditions.” –Henry Lee 

My mindset here was to come out here and have fun. That’s all you can do.” –Henry Lee 

Second-Round Weather: Cool start to the morning gave way to pleasant afternoon temperatures and a sunny sky. High of 70. Wind W at 4-6 mph.

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