SAN JACINTO, California — A year ago, Josh McCarthy played in the PGA TOUR Canada Qualifying Tournament at Soboba Springs Golf Course and opened with his best score of the week, a 2-under 70. Fifty-three weeks later, his opening-round score at Soboba Springs was a whole lot better than 70. McCarthy fired an 8-under 64 Tuesday, thanks to identical 32s on the two nines, to secure a two-shot lead over Jordan Costello and Kyle Karazissis in the fifth of six Q-Schools the Tour is conducting.
McCarthy went on to tie for 32nd in 2022, earning no status. He’s certainly ahead of last year’s pace through 18 holes.
As the lefthander stood on the 18th tee, he felt a wind coming off his left shoulder. “I love that wind, and I knew I could hit a big, high draw,” the Danville, California, native said. He hit his drive so far that he only needed a 9-iron for his second-shot approach, his ball stopping 20 feet from the cup. From there he rolled it in for eagle to get to 8-under. “I was feeling good. It’s nice when you can get those putts to fall when you’re feeling relaxed,” he added. He credited his work with his irons for his opening score. “It was a good day, obviously. I’ve been working hard on my irons. I was glad to see that. It’s coming together out there.”
Since leaving Pepperdine and amateur golf, McCarthy has had difficulty finding places to play. A year ago, he Monday-qualified into two Korn Ferry Tour tournaments, missing the cut in both. He also qualified for the PGA TOUR’s Barracuda Championship and played in the Fortinet Championship, here in the Golden State. He missed the cut in both tournaments.
McCarthy’s lone bogey of the day came on his second hole. “I started feeling really good and relaxed after that,” he continued. It showed, as he strung together four consecutive birdies after that early miscue then after a par at No. 7, he birdied the par-3 eighth. McCarthy also added birdies on the 11th and 16th before his punctuation at the last.
Costello had the benefit of playing Soboba Springs’ back nine first, admitting, as most players do, that it’s the easier of the two nines. He began his day birdie-birdie, and the University of Utah product added additional birdies on his fourth, sixth, seventh and ninth holes of his morning.
“I got off to a really solid start. I was in cruise control on the front nine and solid off the tee. Then I missed several fairways but missed them in the right spots and got lucky with some (yardage) numbers. I got some good breaks with open trees and some good lanes,” he said. His lone bogey came at No. 2, his 11th hole, where he missed a short, par putt. “That was a silly three-putt there. I might have been due for something like that after the front nine,” the Wyoming native explained.
Did you know Josh McCarthy won two college tournaments in his final season at Pepperdine? He defeated Wave teammate Dylan Menante in a playoff to capture the Pasadera Collegiate Invite in October 2020 and then won The Rustic Collegiate Classic a month later, rebounding from an opening, 75 to coast to a three-shot win over three players.
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-thirty players started the tournament Tuesday, with 128 still remaining following Tristan Renaud’s withdrawal and Matt Kemps’ disqualification. Below is a breakdown of the various PGA TOUR Canada membership statuses available this week.
|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, Chinese Taipei, England, Finland, Japan, Mexico, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland and the United States.
- A year ago, Californian Jake Vincent was the medalist at this Qualifying Tournament. He’s back this week after a disappointing first PGA TOUR Canada season. Vincent opened this tournament with a 1-under 71 after starting with a 66 in 2022.
- Among first-round leader Josh McCarthy’s teammates at Pepperdine were the PGA TOUR’s Sahith Theegala and current Korn Ferry Tour members Joe Highsmith and Clay Feagler. He also played with PGA TOUR Canada’s Joey Vrzich.
- Jake Vincent missed the first six cuts of the 2022 PGA TOUR Canada season then broke through with his first made cut, at the CentrePort Canada Rail Park Manitoba Open in Winnipeg. He closed the year making three consecutive cuts but could only muster a 123rd-place Fortinet Cup finish.
- Two other times, Kyle Karazissis has played in PGA TOUR Canada Qualifying Tournaments. He tied for 43rd in 2018 and tied for 60th a year later. His previous-low Q-School round was a first-round 69 in 2018.
- Jordan Costello holds 2022-23 PGA TOUR Latinoamérica status, and he played in all six events during the Tour’s first half of the season, which just concluded at the JHSF Brazil Open in Porto Feliz nine days ago. It was at Brazil’s national open where Costello made his only cut—a 64th-place performance at Fazenda Boa Vista.
- Tuesday, Jordan Costello did something that he had trouble doing in Latin America. His low opening round of the six he played was a 1-over 72, in Brazil, and his first-round stroke average is 77.17. Tuesday, Costello went against script and tore up Soboba Springs Golf Course, making seven birdies and a bogey for an opening, 6-under 66.
- Following his round, Perry Cohen said, “I don’t remember how my rounds went last year.” Let’s remind him about his 2022 experience playing PGA TOUR Canada Q-School at this site, where he tied for second, with opening and closing 71s to go with a second-round 67 and a third-round, even-par 72. Cohen went on to play in nine Fortinet Cup tournaments. He made five cuts, and his tie for 23rd at the Prince Edward Island Open was his best performance.
- Ryann Ree had a nice start to his tournament, with his opening 67. Ree has played all over the world, primarily in Asia, with starts on PGA TOUR Series-China, the Asian Tour and the China Tour. He also has made three PGA TOUR Latinoamérica appearances and saw action in six of the eight Forme Tour tournaments in 2021 while a member of PGA TOUR Canada. On PGA TOUR Series-China, Ree played 26 tournaments between 2018 and 2019, made 21 cuts and posted four top-10s, including a runner-up performance at the Beijing Championship.
- Second-year pro Jack Avrit opened with an even-par 72 as he tries to regain PGA TOUR Canada status. In 2022, Avrit earned his membership and played a full season in Canada before losing his card. He isn’t the only Avrit competing in California this week. His younger brother Owen is part of the University of Oregon team playing in the 76th Western Intercollegiate in Santa Cruz, at Pasatiempo Golf Club. Through 18 holes of the 54-hole tournament, Owen was 5-under and tied for third in the individual portion of the tournament.
- There were six Canadians originally in this week’s field, with five still remaining. Tristan Renaud withdrew earlier Tuesday. The top Canadian through 18 holes is Max Sekulic, a PGA TOUR Latinoamérica player who is coming off a strong, tie-for-fourth showing outside Buenos Aires three weeks ago. Sekulic is currently 22nd in the Totalplay Cup standings, PGA TOUR Latinoamérica’s version of the Fortinet Cup. Sekulic opened play Tuesday with a 2-under 70, and he’s tied for 19th.
There are 28 amateurs playing this week. After 18 holes, leading the way is the University of California’s Kento Yamawaki, at 5-under and tied for fourth. Here are all the amateurs’ results and where they stand:
|T4||Kento Yamawaki (Japan)||67 (-5)|
|T9||Michael Siesinski (U.S.)||68 (-4)|
|T11||Dylan Ellis (U.S.)||69 (-3)|
|T11||Lingkun Kong (China)||69 (-3)|
|T19||Michael Padilla (U.S.)||70 (-2)|
|T19||Charlie Reiter (U.S.)||70 (-2)|
|T41||William Kelly (U.S.)||72 (even)|
|T41||Adam Matteson (U.S.)||72 (even)|
|T41||Grant Engle (U.S.)||72 (even)|
|T70||Calvin Green (U.S.)||74 (+2)|
|T70||Kyle Maspat (U.S.)||74 (+2)|
|T70||Alexander Bottrell||74 (+2)|
|T70||Trevor LaSalle (U.S.)||74 (+2)|
|T80||Evan Kawai (U.S.)||75 (+3)|
|T80||Beau Forest (U.S.)||75 (+3)|
|T90||Raymond Kim (U.S.)||76 (+4)|
|T90||Connor Asarch (U.S.)||76 (+4)|
|T90||Ming Yeh Lin (Chinese Taipei)||76 (+4)|
|T103||Evan Peterson (U.S.)||77 (+5)|
|T103||Tanner Johnson (U.S.)||77 (+5)|
|T111||Brian Ghim (South Korea)||78 (+6)|
|T117||Pierre Joubert (South Africa)||80 (+8)|
|T117||Arthur Thompson II (U.S.)||80 (+8)|
|121||Jordan Brajcich (U.S.)||81 (+9)|
|T122||Thomas Lee (U.S.)||82 (+10)|
|124||Pulin Ren (China)||84 (+12)|
|127||Cortland Benner (U.S.)||87 (+15)|
|128||Joey Matulich (U.S.)||89 (+17)|
From the 19th Hole
“It would give me a good sense of security in the summer. It’s a big deal. PGA TOUR Canada, I’ve heard a lot of great things. I would love to get up there. I thought I did a good job putting the ball in the right places today, keeping it on the fat parts of the green below the hole. I’m in a good position now. I don’t feel like I have to press. I can go and play my game.” –Josh McCarthy
“I wasn’t swinging too well off the tee. I had to play defensive. I wouldn’t say I limped in. I still gave myself some opportunities, I had some good looks, I scrambled well and was able to salvage even-par on the back nine. I like the course. I played it a couple of times under different conditions and with it in different shape. It’s a fun course. It gives you a lot of different looks. You have to have control of your ball, but it gives you opportunities to play the course creatively. I like that.” –Jordan Costello
I feel I learned a lot from that experience, how to play this golf course. Hopefully that will help me. I’ve done some things differently, thought about shots differently.” –Josh McCarthy on what he took away from his first Qualifying Tournament experience at Soboba Springs a year ago
“It’s just repetition. I’m getting comfortable out here and (it’s) how comfortable I am because of the amount of times I’ve played out here recently and the years before. I can pretty much tell you every tree I’m aiming at from every tee box just from the years of being out here. Those repetitions I’ve had out here have made me comfortable, I’m not worried and I don’t have any doubt with where I want to hit it.” –Perry Cohen
First-Round Weather: Sunny and warm, with a high of 78. Wind SSW at 4-8 mph.