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Golf Canada Leaderboard presented by Titleist

Below is a list of how Canadian golfers fared across the major professional tours the week prior.

OLYMPICS

American Xander Schauffele carded a final round 67, including a four foot putt for par on the final hole, to claim the gold medal in the men’s golf competition at the Tokyo Olympics. The win was an emotional one for Schauffele whose father Stefan, a former track and field athlete, had his Olympic hopes dashed 40 years ago when a car crash left him blind in one eye. Schauffele is just the second American ever to win gold in golf, the first since Charles Sands in Paris in 1900.

Rory Sabbatini set an Olympic record with a final round 61, despite two bogeys, and almost forced a sudden-death playoff before settling for the silver medal while playing for Slovakia. The South African-born Sabbatini became a Slovakian citizen in 2018 thanks to his wife, Martina.

Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama was one shot off the lead with four holes to play in his quest to win a gold medal at his home Olympics. But he missed a 12-foot birdie putt on the final hole which would have given him the bronze medal. Instead, it forced a seven-man playoff for the final medal. The Japanese hopeful was eliminated on the first extra hole with a bogey.

Rory McIlroy, Mito Pereira and Sebastian Munoz were eliminated on the third playoff hole with pars, leaving C.T. Pan and British Open champion Collin Morikawa to fight for the final medal. Pan, representing Chinese Taipei, won it with a par on the fourth extra hole.

Canada’s Corey Conners carded a final round 65 to finish 13th, five strokes back of Schauffele. Teammate Mackenzie Hughes shot 75 and ended up 50th. Both were representing Canada for the first time at the Olympic Games.

POS   SCORES TOTAL
13 Corey Conners 69-71-66-65 -13
50 Mackenzie Hughes 69-72-65-75 -3

NEXT EVENT: Women’s Olympic Competition (Aug 4)
CANADIANS ENTERED: Brooke Henderson, Alena Sharp


EUROPEAN TOUR/LPGA TOUR

England’s Daniel Gavins overcame a seven stroke deficit to win the ISPS HANDA World Invitational by one stroke over fellow Englishman David Horsey. For Gavins it was his first European Tour after never previously recording a single top-10 finish. New Zealand’s Daniel Hillier, who was tied for the lead before dropping shots on the 16th and 17th, finished tied for third with third round leader Jordan Smith, Alejandro Canizares and Masahiro Kawamura.

In the women’s event, Thailand’s Pajaree Anannarukarn overcame a triple bogey on the sixth hole to defeat American Emma Talley on the second playoff hole. Along with  Jennifer Kupcho, the trio reached the final hole in regulation in a tie but Kupcho bogeyed the 18th to finish outside the playoff. Both players made par on the first extra hole and Anannarukarn needed another par on the second playoff hole to win after Talley missed the green on her approach. Anannarukarn becomes the fifth first-time winner on the LPGA Tour this season.

NEXT EVENT: Hero Open (Aug 5)
CANADIANS ENTERED: Aaron Cockerill


FORME TOUR

Turk Pettit shot a final round 67 to win the Birck Boilermaker Classic in just the third start of his professional golf career.  Two months ago, Pettit was putting the finishing touches on a win at the 2021 NCAA Championship.  Joseph Harrison missed a 10 foot putt which could have forced a playoff, leaving him alone in second place. The victory moves Pettit to the top of the Tour’s points list. The top five at the end of the season will earn membership on the Korn Ferry Tour. …Will Bateman posted his best result on the tour and second top 20 result in four starts. …Golf Canada Young Pro Squad member Joey Savoie recovered from rounds of 74 and 76 to card a final round 69 and maintain his top 10 points standing. He sits ninth and is the only Canadian in the top 10.

POS   SCORES TOTAL
T13 Wil Bateman 67-72-71-69 -9
T31 James Allenby 73-65-75-70 -5
T31 Lawren Rowe 71-69-69-74 -5
T39 Joey Savoie 65-74-76-69 -4
T55 Riley Wheeldon 74-68-71-75 E
MC Blair Hamilton 73-71  
MC Chris Crisologo 72-75  
MC Jared du Toit 74-73  
MC Myles Creighton 75-72  
MC Callum Davison 77-72  

NEXT EVENT: Fuzzy Zoeller Classic  (Aug 10)
CANADIANS ENTERED: TBA


MACKENZIE TOUR-PGA TOUR CANADA

Brendan Leonard birdied three of the final five holes to overcome a five stroke deficit and win the Mackenzie Investments Open, the opening event of the 2021 Mackenzie Tour – PGA TOUR Canada schedule. Leonard was tied for the lead before making back-to-back birdies on the final two holes to finish two shots better than Sudarshan Yellamaraju and Marc Casullo. Blair Bursey led through each of the first three rounds but a final round 76 denied him a chance of going wire-to-wire, finishing in a tie for fourth with Keven Fortin-Simard. Other notable finishers: Jamie Sadlowski tied for 6th, Sebastian Szirmak tied for 8th, and Eric Banks tied for 12th.  The top player on the final points list will earn full exempt status on the 2022 PGA TOUR Canada while second-through-fifth will earn exempt status up until the first reshuffle. Finishers six through 10 will each earn a sponsor exemption into a 2022 Mackenzie Tour event.

NEXT EVENT: Osprey Valley Open (Aug 16)

Korn Ferry Tour

Roberto Diaz, Alex Kang claims 36-hole lead at Price Cutter Charity Championship; Macdonald T3

Stuart Macdonald
SPRINGFIELD, MO - JULY 23: Stuart MacDonald of Canada putts on the 9th green during the second round of the Price Cutter Charity Championship presented by Dr. Pepper at Highland Spring Country Club on July 23, 2021 in Springfield, Missouri. (Photo by James Gilbert/PGA TOUR via Getty Images)

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Roberto Diaz and Alex Kang each reached 13-under through two rounds to earn the 36-hole lead at the Price Cutter Charity Championship presented by Dr Pepper. The duo leads four players by one stroke at the halfway point of the tournament at Highland Springs Country Club. 

Diaz was 1-under on his round before a stretch of four consecutive birdies from Nos. 6-9 to finish. 

“It was great; I made an amazing par on 5,” said Diaz. “I hit a bad wedge in and had a bad lie in the rough, but I hit about a 12-footer for par. That really set me up for the next hole. I just kept hitting my lines with the putts and they started falling in…I haven’t really paid attention to the leaderboard. I had a peek on the ninth tee and saw that I was tied for the lead. But I’m trying to make as many birdies as possible.” 

Entering the week 23rd in the Korn Ferry Tour points standings, Diaz is seeking a strong finish to solidify his standing inside the top-25. The top-25 players in the standings at the conclusion of the regular season earn PGA TOUR membership for the 2021-22 season while the top-75 players retain their Korn Ferry Tour status in 2022. 

“I’ve been in this position before, I finished 25th a couple of years ago so I know what it feels like to be in this position,” reflected Diaz. “The only thing you can do is not be scared. I don’t think I’m scared. I think good players thrive to be in this position. If you’d have told me a couple of years ago that I would be in 23rd, I would have taken it.” 

Earlier this season, Diaz broke through with his maiden Korn Ferry Tour victory, a one-stroke win over Peter Uihlein at the Chitimacha Louisiana Open presented by MISTRAS. The win came three months to the day after the birth of his son, his first child. 

“I’ve had a great year so far,” said Diaz. “I had my first win, my kid was born, if nothing else, if I get my card or not, I will be fine. I’ve played great golf so far so I’m just enjoying where I’m at.” 

Competing in the third-to-last group of the day, Kang birdied his final two holes to match Diaz’s 13- under total. Kang is one of six players without a bogey or worse through the first two days. 

“It seems like I haven’t hit a lot of greens through the last few tournaments, so I’m trying to hit a lot of greens, give myself more chances, and not get into trouble,” said Kang, the brother of LPGA Tour star Danielle Kang. “Instead of being so aggressive, kind of try to win the tournament with the putter.” 

With uncertain status this season, Kang has made a habit of using local caddies each week. This week he has paired up with a member out at Highland Springs Country Club. 

“I’ve been taking local caddies because I’m not sure if I’m getting into these golf tournaments,” said Kang. “I’ve got this kid, pretty nice kid, I like him a lot. He gives me some good reads and I like him.” 

Kang entered the week 191st in the points standings with only 10 starts. With only three events remaining in the regular season, he would likely need a win to secure Korn Ferry Tour status for the 2022 season. 

Four players sit one stroke off the lead, including 49-year-old Steven Alker and Simmons Bank Open Benefitting the Snedeker Foundation champion Austin Smotherman. 

Canadian Stuart Macdonald is tied for third at 12-under while fellow Canadians Adam Svensson and Taylor Pendrith are both tied for 45th.

The third round will run from 7 a.m. to 1:10 p.m. off of the first tee on Saturday at Highland Springs Country Club. 

Korn Ferry Tour

Four tied atop leaderboard at Live and Work in Maine Open; Svensson T9

Adam Svensson
WICHITA, KS - JUNE 17: Adam Svensson plays his shot from the 12th tee during the first round of the Wichita Open Benefitting KU Wichita Pediatrics at Crestview Country Club on June 17, 2021 in Wichita, Kansas. (Photo by James Gilbert/PGA TOUR via Getty Images)

FALMOUTH, Maine – Steve LeBrun, Brett Stegmaier, Brent Grant and Jim Knous each carded opening- round 7-under 64s to co-lead after the first round of the inaugural Live and Work in Maine Open. The quartet leads 57 players under par entering the second round at Falmouth Country Club. 

LeBrun, Stegmaier and Grant each went low in the morning wave while Knous led the scoring in the afternoon wave. Stegmaier led the field with nine birdies in the first round, including at his first two holes of the day (Nos. 10-11) and last three holes of the day (Nos. 7-9). 

“I hit it really well and I made putts,” said Stegmaier matter-of-factly. “I don’t feel like I’m pressing out there and I just want to enjoy myself and finish the last five events strong and maybe find some way to sneak into the Finals.” 

Stegmaier, a 37-year-old who grew up in nearby Connecticut, entered the week just 134th in the points standings with two top-25s and no top-10s in 28 starts. Similarly, Steve LeBrun entered the week without a top-25 finish this season and 149th in the points standings. The 43-year-old from southern Florida turned professional in 2000 and was honest when asked about his standing with only six events remaining in the Korn Ferry Tour season. 

“It’s been a brutal year or two years; I’m not going to lie,” said LeBrun. “But I’ve been preparing for a week to win, whether it’s here or on the PGA TOUR, for a long time. It’s been a lot of years. I’ve been off and on this Tour since 2004. You’d like to think that all of the stuff that you’ve gone through would prepare you for that time when you have a putt on the last hole.” 

In contrast to Stegmaier and LeBrun, 25-year-old Brent Grant is in the midst of his rookie season on the Korn Ferry Tour. He entered the week off of back-to-back top-10 finishes, but those finishes sandwiched a five-week break to rest an aggravated wrist injury. 

“I had a tear in my TFCC joint on the side of my wrist,” explained Grant. “But the surgeon told me they didn’t want to touch it if it wasn’t always in pain, they basically told me to suck it up and go play…I did not touch a club for three weeks.” 

Currently at 71st in the points standings, Grant is looking to retain his Korn Ferry Tour membership by finishing inside the top 75 or earn his first PGA TOUR card by finishing the season inside the top 25. With a win, Grant projects to move to 30th in the standings. 

With a 64, Knous carded the lowest round in the afternoon by two strokes. The Colorado School of Mines alum birdied two of the three toughest holes on the course (Nos. 2 and 8) to reach 64. 

“I made probably four or five putts in that 10-15-foot range, a few long two putts, and then I made a bomb on No. 2,” said Knous. I think that was 40 feet and it was one of the hardest holes on the course, so that’s a plus.” 

Adam Svensson of Surrey, B.C., shot a 4-under 67 and is tied for ninth. Taylor Pendrith of Richmond Hill, Ont., and Ben Silverman of Thornhill, Ont., both shot 69’s and are tied for 27th.

Second-round tee times will run from 6:30 a.m. to 1:40 p.m. on Friday off of the first and 10th tees at Falmouth Country Club. 

Champions Tour Korn Ferry Tour LPGA Tour PGA TOUR

The Ultimate Canadian Golfer

If you were to create your perfect golfer from tee to green using only Canadian golfers, whose driving abilities would you take? Whose putting skills? Whose silky-smooth swing? Let’s break down what the ultimate golfer might look like when comprised of some of Canada’s very best.

Driving

When it comes to hitting off the tee, it’s not hard to find a few names. One that comes to mind is Taylor Pendrith. Pendrith is currently one of the heaviest hitters on the Korn Ferry Tour circuit. For the 2020-2021 season, his average driving distance is 319.9 yards. Currently ranked fourth in driving distance on the Korn Ferry Tour, he is just over 4 yards off the first-place number. Back in September of 2020, Pendrith made his major debut at the U.S. Open where he finished third in average driving distance among some of the best in the world.

A decade ago, Graham DeLaet was making similar impact on the PGA Tour. In his first season back in 2010, DeLaet ranked sixth in driving distance with a 305.7-yard average. Between 2012 and 2017, DeLaet routinely ranked inside the top 40 in the same statistic. In 2013, DeLaet had the fourth longest drive on the PGA Tour that season, hitting one drive 420 yards.

If we’re talking about driving excellence, Brooke Henderson’s name must be there. For the past five seasons, Henderson has ranked inside the top 25 on the LPGA Tour for driving distance. Last season, she matched her career high ranking of eighth, with an average driving distance of 266.784 yards. However, she doesn’t just bomb the ball – there’s something to be said about her accuracy as well – Henderson ranked 35th for driving accuracy last season. Currently, Henderson is ranked sixth for average driving distance at 278.654 yards.

One of the best Canadians to ever play the game, Stan Leonard won three times on the PGA Tour and eight PGA of Canada Championships.  At one point in the 1940’s, Leonard’s tee shots were already averaging 275-280 yards, according to a 1948 Maclean’s article.

Irons

On the LPGA Tour, Dawn Coe-Jones had enviable irons. Between 1992 and 2000, she almost routinely finished inside of the top 25 for greens in regulation percentage, and for the two seasons where she was outside, she was still in the top 60 on the LPGA Tour.

Over on the PGA Tour, Stephen Ames’s approach shots were also enviable. Between 2004 and 2008, Ames consistently finished inside the top 50 on the PGA Tour when it came to strokes gained: approaching the green. In 2004, he also finished 24th for greens in regulation.While on the PGA Tour Champions, between 2015 and 2019, Ames consistently finished inside the top 35 in greens in regulation. At his most recent win at the Principal Charity Classic on the Champions Tour on June 6, Ames led the field in greens in regulation with 87.04 per cent – nearly four per cent clear of Fred Couples in second.

Before Ames, there was Dave Barr. Between 1987 and 1994, Barr was consistently in the top 15 for greens in regulation percentage on the PGA Tour. In 1988, he ranked second with a 73.63 per cent average, and in both 1989 and 1992 he finished third.

One of Canada’s best current golfers, Alena Sharp has been playing on the LPGA Tour since the mid-2000’s and was a member of Team Canada at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Over the course of her career, Sharp’s greens in regulation percentage have been impressive. Between 2007 and 2011, Sharp finished inside the top 50 on the LPGA in greens in regulation, and between 2007 and last season, she’s only ranked outside of the top 65 at the end of the season three times. She’s currently ranked 48th in the category this season.

Ultimate Golfer Diagram

Short Game

It wouldn’t be a list comprising of some of Canada’s best golfers if Mike Weir weren’t on it. Currently on the PGA Tour Champions, Weir has the best sand save percentage out of anyone with 67.44 and is ranked at 15th in scrambling at 61.70 per cent. Between 2005 and 2014, while playing on the PGA Tour, Weir was ranked in the top five of sand save percentage four times. Twice, Weir had the best strokes gained: around the green number on the PGA Tour – in 2005 with .521 average strokes gained, and again five years later with .559 average strokes gained.

With two wins on the PGA Tour, Nick Taylor is one of Canada’s best current male golfers. In 2017, Taylor was ranked 58th in strokes gained: around the green, 33rd in scrambling, and 16th in scrambling from the rough. In 2018, Taylor was ranked inside the top 30 in scrambling and sand save percentage, and just last season, he ranked 21st in scrambling from the fringe.

With four wins on the LPGA Tour, Lorie Kane is one of the best Canadians to play the game. Between 1997 and 2005, Kane had some of the best greens in regulation statistics on the LPGA Tour – never failing to fall outside of the top 25, including sixth in 2001. Accompanying that, between 1997 and 2011, Kane also had some incredible sand saves statistics, finishing inside the top 25 six times and in 2011 she was ranked second with a 63.33 percentage.

Putting

Sandra Post is one of the most legendary golfers to come from Canada. Post was the first Canadian to play on the LPGA Tour, and won eight times. In an article from Maclean’s from 1968, Post herself says that putting is the best part of her game.

On the PGA Tour, Mackenzie Hughes’s putting is top-notch. In 2020, Hughes finished eighth in strokes gained: putting with a .681 average and had the ninth best overall putting average at 1.566. In 2019, Hughes sunk the longest putt of the season when his putt from 85’8” out found the hole. The year before that, he had the 16th longest successful putt, and in 2020 he held the 20th spot. He’s currently ranked third in avoiding three-putts with only 19 occurrences in 70 rounds of golf.

Adam Hadwin is another name that comes to mind when talking about putting. Back in 2016, Hadwin had one of the hottest putters on the PGA Tour. He ranked 11th in strokes gained: putting, fifth in putting average, 25th in one-putt percentage, and 12th in three-putt avoidance. In 2017, he ranked 26th in strokes gained: putting, and 11th in one-putt percentage.

Accuracy

Moe Norman is a legend in the golf universe. Known for his incredible golf swing, Norman had enviable accuracy that is still talked about today – nearly 70 years after playing in his first PGA Tour event.

George Knudson is another golf legend, and he achieved an incredible eight wins on the PGA Tour. And, like Norman, Knudson was known for having an incredible swing – playing a huge role in his accuracy.

Currently, Corey Conners is one of the best Canadian golfers on the PGA Tour and a big part of his success is due to is his accuracy. In 2020, Conners placed 20th in driving accuracy percentage and sixth in greens in regulation percentage. In 2019, he ranked 42nd in driving accuracy percentage and first for greens in regulation percentage. That season, when he did miss, it wasn’t by much – he ranked fourth in distance from the edge of the fairway with an average of 19’8”. Currently, he’s ranked 10th in greens in regulation, with 69.71 per cent.

With two wins on the LPGA Tour, Gail Graham is one of Canada’s best. Winning in 1995 and 1997 – Graham’s driving accuracy was consistently enviable. Between 1992 and 1997, Graham routinely ranked inside the top 60 on the LPGA Tour in driving accuracy. In 1996, she even ranked 21st.

So, who would you choose to create your ultimate Canadian golfer?

Korn Ferry Tour

Stuart Macdonald ties for fifth at Korn Ferry Tour event

Stuart Macdonald
GREER, SC - JUNE 13: Stuart Macdonald of Canada hits his tee shot on the second hole during the final round of the BMW Charity Pro-Am presented by Synnex Corporation at the Thornblade Club on June 13, 2021 in Greer, South Carolina. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)

GREER, S.C. – Canadian golfer Stuart Macdonald tied for fifth on Sunday at the Korn Ferry Tour’s BMW Charity Pro-Am.

It marked the third top-10 finish in a row for the Vancouver native, who tied for third and tied for 10th at his past two events.

Macdonald finished at 19 under for the 72-hole tournament on Sunday, eight strokes behind winner Mito Pereira of Chile.

The result bumps Macdonald to 61st from 70th in the tour standings.

The top 25 at the end of the regular season earn PGA Tour cards for next season.

The top 75 get another chance for 25 more PGA Tour cards as they will play in the Korn Ferry Tour finals.

Fellow Canadian Ben Silverman finished in 72nd place.

Korn Ferry Tour

Justin Lower extends lead in third round of BMW Charity Pro-Am; Macdonald T4

Stuart Macdonald
GREER, SC - JUNE 12: Stuart Macdonald of Canada hits his tee shot on the second hole during the third round of the BMW Charity Pro-Am presented by Synnex Corporation at the Thornblade Club on June 12, 2021 in Greer, South Carolina. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)

GREER, S.C. – Justin Lower continued his strong play at the BMW Charity Pro-Am presented by SYNNEX Corporation to maintain his 36-hole lead through the third round at 23-under. Lower leads Mito Pereira by three strokes entering the final round at the Thornblade Club.

Lower will seek to hold off Pereira – a two-time winner this season – on Sunday as the latter chases his third victory and an immediate promotion to the PGA TOUR. Meanwhile Lower is seeking his first career Korn Ferry Tour victory and a leap inside the top-20 in the Korn Ferry Tour points standings.

“It feels like I’m coming into my own,” said Lower. “I know I’ve played over 100 events out here. I’ve been out here a while. I really don’t know how to explain it. My game has felt good all year. I thought this year could be a good year. It didn’t start off the way I wanted it to start. But I’ve been working hard the last month or so and results are starting to show.”

Entering the day with 18 birdies through 36 holes, Lower added to his tournament-leading total with a streak of five consecutive down the stretch on Saturday (Nos. 12-16). He bogeyed the third hole but rebounded with an eagle at the fifth and a birdie at the ninth before going on his back-nine run.

“I just kept getting good numbers and I was able to swing confidently at flags,” said Lower of his birdie streak. “Even on the par-5s, I was getting good numbers with longer clubs. The shot I had in on 15 was perfect.”

At 24 birdies through 54 holes, Lower is two birdies shy of the top 2020-2021 mark (26 by Chad Ramey at the REX Hospital Open) and seven shy of the all-time Korn Ferry Tour record through 72 holes (31).

With his Saturday 64, Lower has now collected seven straight rounds in the 60s, including rounds of 64- 63-64 this week. The 32-year-old entered the week 37th in the standings and is looking to finish the regular season inside the top-25 and earn his first PGA TOUR card. Lower claimed the only 54-hole solo- lead of his career at the 2019 Chitimacha Louisiana Open presented by MISTRAS but went on to fall in a playoff to Vince Covello. 

“I played well that day,” reflected Lower on his final round in Louisiana in 2019. “I didn’t really finish it. My goal tomorrow is to finish it off. I know it’s going to be hard. Guys are going to be gunning for me. The weather is supposed to be nice. Scores will be low. I just have to finish the race.” 

In 2018, Lower experienced heartbreak at the final event of the season, the Korn Ferry Tour Championship presented by United Leasing & Finance. He was hovering around The Finals 25 bubble coming down the stretch before facing an eight-foot birdie putt at the 72nd hole. A birdie would have earned him his first PGA TOUR card but Lower missed on the low side and finished 26th, missing out on TOUR membership by one slot. 

Pereira will look to become the second player in a row to earn back-to-back wins after Cameron Young accomplished the feat two weeks ago. Prior to Young, a player had not gone back-to-back on the Korn Ferry Tour since 2013 (Michael Putnam). 

Canadian Stuart Macdonald is tied for fourth at 17-under and fellow Canadian Ben Silverman is tied for 70th.

Elsewhere in the tournament, the team of professional Evan Harmeling and former MLB All-Star pitcher David Wells (-26) won the low-handicap celebrity division (termed the X6 division) in walk-off fashion as Wells aced his final hole of the tournament (the par-3 ninth). The pairing of world champion boxer Canelo Alvarez and professional Matt Picanso (-29) won the high-handicap celebrity division (X7 Division) in a scorecard playoff. 

The final round will run from 8:35 a.m. through 2:45 p.m. off of the first tee at the Thornblade Club. 

Korn Ferry Tour

Justin Lower leads in suspended second round at BMW Charity Pro-Am; Macdonald T7

Stuart Macdonald
RALEIGH, NC - JUNE 05: Stuart Macdonald of Canada watches his tee shot on the seventh hole during the third round of the REX Hospital Open at The Country Club at Wakefield Plantation on June 5, 2021 in Raleigh, North Carolina. (Photo by Tracy Wilcox/PGA TOUR via Getty Images)

GREER, S.C. – Justin Lower followed up a first-round 64 at The Cliffs Valley course with a second-round 63 at the Thornblade Club to take a one-stroke lead at 16-under at the BMW Charity Pro-Am presented by SYNNEX Corporation as play was suspended due to inclement weather. The second round will resume at 7:15 a.m. on both courses with the third round to follow after the conclusion of the second round. 

“I think this is my fifth year here, so it’s about time I figured it out,” laughed Lower of his past history at the tournament. “I’ve been playing well all year and just haven’t gotten the putter going. I started to get it going over the last month or so a little more and it’s starting to really show now.” 

Lower, a 32-year-old from Canal Fulton, Ohio, has birdied half of his 36 holes thus far, three more than any other player in the field. On Friday, he tallied six birdies on his back nine on his way to a closing 5- under 36 and 8-under 63 total.

While his scoring holes have been notable, Lower credited a par at the par-5 second hole early in his round as the catalyst. 

“I got up and down right of the green on No. 2 for par,” said Lower. “I was having trouble focusing. Just a lot of people going around, a lot of noise. I had missed the green with a wedge in my hand and I kind of had a tough shot and I hit it to two feet. Just to save momentum early was huge.” 

Lower entered the week 37th in the Korn Ferry Tour points standings with eight tournaments remaining. In 2018, Lower experienced heartbreak at the final event of the season, the Korn Ferry Tour Championship presented by United Leasing & Finance. He was hovering around The Finals 25 bubble coming down the stretch before facing an eight-foot birdie putt at the 72nd hole. A birdie would have earned him his first PGA TOUR card but Lower missed on the low side and finished 26th, missing out on TOUR membership by one slot. 

“I want that PGA TOUR card,” said Lower, a Malone University alum. “Hopefully it’s not just that, it’s more than that, but my game feels good. Every year I’ve made a steady improvement so hopefully I keep trending in the right direction and it will happen eventually.” 

Last week’s champion Mito Pereira sits one stroke back at 14-under in his bid to go back-to-back and earn his third victory of the season and an immediate promotion to the PGA TOUR. Michael Miller, the runner-up at the last BMW Charity Pro-Am presented by SYNNEX Corporation, sits even with Pereira at 14-under. 

Elsewhere in the tournament, the teams of professional Andy Pope and former MLB All-Star A.J. Pierzynski are tied with professional Evan Harmeling and former MLB All-Star David Wells in the low- handicap celebrity division (termed the X6 Division) while professional Matt Picanso and world champion boxer Canelo Alvarez lead the high-handicap celebrity division (X7 Division). 

Canadian Stuart Macdonald is tied for seventh at 11-under with two holes still left to play. Fellow Canadians Ben Silverman and Albin Choi are tied for 25th and 85, respectively.

Korn Ferry Tour

Michael Miller seizes first-round lead at BMW Charity Pro-Am; Macdonald T5

Stuart Macdonald
RALEIGH, NC - JUNE 05: Stuart Macdonald of Canada watches his tee shot on the seventh hole during the third round of the REX Hospital Open at The Country Club at Wakefield Plantation on June 5, 2021 in Raleigh, North Carolina. (Photo by Tracy Wilcox/PGA TOUR via Getty Images)

GREER, S.C. – Michael Miller had to wait two years to return to the site of his career-best finish. After a runner-up in 2019 at the BMW Charity Pro-Am presented by SYNNEX Corporation and a tournament cancellation in 2020, Miller carded an opening-round 9-under 62 at the Thornblade Club to claim a one- stroke lead over Justin Lower, Vince India and Lee Hodges. 

“I just enjoy it here,” laughed Miller about his success at the tournament. “This was one of my first couple of events that I ever got into when I first had some status in 2014. And I played well and I’ve always kind of rode the momentum from there. I like the driving and the atmosphere and the people around.” 

Though still looking for another breakthrough performance, Miller entered this week’s tournament in better shape on the points list (99th) than in 2019. In 2019, Miller missed his first eight cuts of the season and 10 of 12 overall to enter the BMW Charity Pro-Am at 188th in the points standings. 

“I enjoy when I’m kind of feeling happy-go-lucky,” said Miller. “Sometimes this game will beat you up and lately it’s been beating me up. It’s nice to get back to a place where you know you have some good vibes and hopefully can continue them.” 

After a birdie at the par-4 10th to start, Miller tacked on three more birdies, a bogey and a hole-out eagle at the par-4 14th to reach 5-under 31 at the turn. On the front side, Miller added three more birdies, a bogey and another eagle at the fifth. With the 62, Miller sets a new career-low round on the Korn Ferry Tour, replacing a 63 at The Cliffs Valley course at the 2019 BMW Charity Pro-Am presented by SYNNEX. 

With more than 80 percent of the Korn Ferry Tour’s combined 2020-21 regular season in the books, Miller noted the urgency that has started to set in. 

“I’m playing for my job,” said Miller. “That’s the way I look at it. It’s either you’re going to make it or break it. I’ve got eight events to hopefully prove that I belong at the next level and hopefully today’s a good start to build some momentum going forward.” 

Different goals are looking to be achieved by the trio one shot back of Miller. Lower and India are each looking to make the jump from top-50 in the points standings to top-25 and earning their PGA TOUR cards. Entering the week 10th in the points standings, Hodges is on the cusp of earning his first PGA TOUR card. 

Elsewhere in the tournament, the team of professional Evan Harmeling and former MLB All-Star pitcher David Wells lead the low-handicap celebrity division (termed the X6 Division) while professional Chandler Phillips and Olympic gold medalist curler Matt Hamilton lead the high-handicap celebrity division (X7 Division). 

Canadian Stuart Macdonald is tied for fifth after shooting a 7-under 65. Fellow Canadians Ben Silverman and Albin Choi shot 68 and 69, respectively.

Second-round tee times will run from 7 a.m. to 1:49 p.m. on Friday off of the first and 10th tees at both Thornblade Club and The Cliffs Valley. 

Korn Ferry Tour

Svensson finishes 2nd at Evans Scholars Invitational

Adam Svensson
GLENVIEW, ILLINOIS - MAY 29: Adam Svensson of Canada plays his tee shot from the second hole during the third round of the Evans Scholar Invitational at the Glen Club on May 29, 2021 in Glenview, Illinois. (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)

GLENVIEW, Ill. – Canadian Adam Svensson finished second Sunday in the Korn Ferry Tour’s Evans Scholars Invitational golf tournament, taking a big step toward securing a PGA Tour card for next year.

Svensson, of Surrey, B.C., carded a final-round 4-under 67 to finish with a 13-under, 271 total. American Cameron Young also shot a 67 on Sunday to post a 266 total and a five-stroke win.

Young earned US$108,000 for the victory while Svensson took home $54,000.

Svensson is trying to return to the PGA Tour after losing his card following the 2019 season. He jumped to 11th from 18th in the tour standings with the result.

The top 25 at season’s end earn PGA Tour cards.

Taylor Pendrith of Richmond Hill, Ont., finished 10 shots off the pace while Vancouver’s Stuart Macdonald posted a 277 total, three shots ahead of Ben Silverman of Thornhill, Ont.

Korn Ferry Tour

Cameron Young extends lead at Evans Scholars Invitational; Svensson in 3rd

Adam Svensson
GLENVIEW, ILLINOIS - MAY 29: Adam Svensson of Canada plays his tee shot from the second hole during the third round of the Evans Scholar Invitational at the Glen Club on May 29, 2021 in Glenview, Illinois. (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)

GLENVIEW, Ill. – Turns out Cameron Young is mortal after all. And the rest of the field still couldn’t catch him.

For the first time in two weeks, Young made a costly error and knew the position he put himself in was one of the toughest at The Glen Club’s links-style course. Young blasted his approach at the par-4 second over the green, left his chip shot off a downhill lie short and in the rough, then chipped on and two-putted for six. The double bogey negated an eagle from the par-5 first, but it was not enough to knock Young off the top spot of the leaderboard at the Evans Scholars Invitational presented by First Midwest Bank. 

“That’s about the only one I’ve made over the last couple weeks,” Young said of the mistake at No. 2. “I’ve kept it in play, made a lot of smart decisions. That was really the first bad mistake I made, hitting it somewhere where I knew it was really hard to get up and down.” 

Adam Svensson of Surrey, B.C., is third at 9 under, while Taylor Pendrith of Richmond Hill, Ont., is tied for eighth at 5 under. Ben Silverman of Thornhill, Ont., is tied for 21st and Stuart Macdonald of Vancouver is tied for 25th.

Young logged five birdies and a bogey the rest of the way, carding a 4-under 67 and extending his lead over Northbrook, Illinois native Nick Hardy to four strokes. It is the seventh consecutive Korn Ferry Tour round Young has at least a share of the lead, as well as sixth time in the last seven rounds he leads outright. 

The Scarsborough, New York native entered Saturday’s third round as the only player with fewer than three bogeys through 36 holes this week. Although Young doubled the second and bogeyed the par-3 11th later in the round, he still has fewer holes played over par than anyone in the field. Young only made five bogeys, tied for the third fewest of the tournament, in last week’s wire-to-wire win (solo leader after every round) at the AdventHealth Championship.

In addition to making fewer mistakes than anyone else, Young’s three eagles (one in each round) are tied with University of Illinois alum Luke Guthrie for the most in this week’s field. Young’s round-opening eagle Saturday was a drive in the fairway, followed by a 6-iron from 223 yards out, and a 25-foot putt. 

“My goal standing on the first tee was to hit the fairway. That’s what I did,” Young said. “To make the putt was a bonus and a nice way to start.” 

A par save off another downhill lie behind No. 3 green gave Young a quick boost, which he turned into birdies at Nos. 4 and 5. The birdie at the par-5 fifth came after Young escaped the trees on his second shot and knocked a wedge to eight feet. Four pars later, Young drove the 333-yard par-4 10th and notched a two-putt birdie. A bogey from the greenside bunker at the 11th cost him a shot, but Young got it back with a tap-in birdie at the par-4 15th. Young capped the round with a two-putt birdie from just left of the green at the par-5 18th. 

“I don’t think I hit it that great. I made a couple putts early,” Young said. “After that, I didn’t make much. I think I have a lot more in me.” 

Four strokes is double what Young’s lead was after 54 holes in Kansas City, Missouri a week ago. Even with the added cushion, Young knows he can ill afford to play cautiously, or try to protect his lead Sunday afternoon. 

“If I do that, I’ll get passed really quickly,” Young said. “Nick [Hardy] showed some fire on the back nine.” 

Hardy, a two-time All-American and the 2018 Big Ten Player of the Year at the University of Illinois, rallied from a 3-over 39 on the front nine with a bogey-free 4-under 31 on the back nine. 

Even as Hardy provoked roars from the crowd after a long, double-breaking birdie putt went down at the par-3 11th, as well as dazzling approaches at the par-4 13th and 15th, Young stayed in his own zone. 

Scott McKean, Young’s caddie, is a major reason why they’re able to operate within their own little world. The two were close friends at Wake Forest University. McKean was also the best man at Young’s wedding. Young’s connection to McKean feels especially important this week, given the fact this event raises funds to support the Evans Scholars Foundation and its efforts to send caddies to college on full tuition and housing scholarships. 

When Young needed a caddie for last August’s Albertsons Boise Open presented by Chevron, the third week the four-tournament run which earned him Special Temporary Membership status, McKean picked up the bag. Working for cybersecurity company, McKean took some time off, but also worked remotely while on the road. Young called McKean two weeks later for the Korn Ferry Tour Championship presented by United Leasing & Finance. Once again, McKean took off work and joined Young in Newburgh, Indiana. 

Young made an even bigger ask in late September. He needed a caddie for three straight weeks. McKean asked if he could call back with an answer. 

“He called me back an hour and a half later and had quit his job,” Young said. “He’s giving up a lot to be away from home a lot, and not necessarily get to play golf, do other things he likes to do. But we have a great time. We have a lot of fun. It makes the travel and the long days a lot easier.” 

Drawbridge, the cybersecurity company McKean left, is embroidered on Young’s polos. It’s an ever- present reminder of what the stakes are, what sacrifices have been made, and what potentially lay ahead. 

A victory Sunday would move Young from 26th to 12th in the 2020-21 Korn Ferry Tour points standings. More simply, finishing off a second win in as many weeks would take Young to the verge of his first PGA TOUR card. 

“Very thankful to be where I am. I knew what it felt like to be missing Monday qualifiers and making $50 in mini-tour events,” Young said. “I’m most of the way to where I want to go. I want that last little bit to be soon. That’s where I have my eyes set.” 

Final-round tee times will run from 6:54 a.m. to 1 p.m. local time Sunday off the first tee.