If you needed further proof that the PGA TOUR Canada is now attracting some of the most talented young professionals in the world you need not look any further than the opening round leaderboard of their first qualifying tournament for 2015.
61 players turned in scores under par on Orange County National Golf Club’s Panther Lake Course near Orlando, Florida. And this course is no pushover. At well over 7,000 yards it has been a host of the former PGA TOUR Qualifying School finals, and this level of scoring was rare for even those players.
Leading the way Tuesday was American Chris Worrell who leapt to the lead in the 72-hole tournament with an 8 under par score of 64.
The 24 year-old chalked up 8 birdies and an eagle, offset by just two bogies.
“I rolled the rock pretty well today. I made a couple of putts outside 10 feet today, and I don’t usually do that,” said Worrell, a University of Tulsa grad. Worrell got off to a hot start with three birdies and an eagle in his first five holes, and said his strong opening round would allow him to ease the pressure of the final three rounds slightly.
“It’s nice to get a start and understand that I’ve got a little bit of room to play with, knowing I can fire at some flags and not worry about it too much,” he added.
Worrell leads by one stroke over hometown boy Ross Beal.
“I hit the ball really well tee-to-green. I’m probably one of the longer players here and I was able to get to all the par-5s in two,” commented Beal. “With five par-5s, I think that’s going to be the key to scoring well here this week.”
A trio trails the pair at 6 under par. It includes former PGA TOUR Canada winner Max Gilbert, who is the low Canadian among the 16 playing. Also shooting 66 was Zack Byrd and Ty Dunlap.
Dunlap, who Monday qualified for the National Capital Open to Support our Troops in Ottawa last year, is looking to avoid that tenuous route to the TOUR in 2015.
“I played in one event last year up in Ottawa. It was really run well, and obviously having the ability to play 12 events for a Web.com Tour card as opposed to Monday Qualifying is great. I was really impressed with the way the Ottawa tournament was and knew I wanted to come back.”
What You Need To Know
The medalist this week will earn exempt status on PGA TOUR Canada for 2015. Finishers 2-18 will be exempt through the first six events and subject to the re-shuffle, with the rest of the top 40 (plus ties) earning conditional status. The cutoff for the top 18 through the first round was at 4-under, with the cutoff for the top 40 at 2-under.
Max Gilbert – 66 (t-3)
Albin Choi – 68 (t-15)
Gordon Parker – 68 (t-15)
Jean Philip Cornellier – 70 (t-40)
Lucas Kim – 72 (t-62)
Matt McMahon – 72 (t-62)
Ryan Terdik – 73 (t-73)
Brett Cairns – 73 (t-73)
Mark Hoffman – 73 (t-73)
Mathieu Perron – 74 (t-87)
Robbie Greenwell – 74 (t-87)
JJ Regan – 74 (t-87)
Christian Westhorpe – 74 (t-87)
Luke Ovenden – 75 (t-100)
Rok Cho – 77 (t-114)
Jessey Church – 79 (123rd)
Andrew Zanata – 82 (t-125)