SONY Open A Learning Ground For Canadian Rookie

Matt McQuillan finished in a tie for 54th in his first PGA Tour event. (File Photo: Scott MacLeod)
Matt McQuillan finished in a tie for 54th in his first PGA Tour event. (File Photo: Scott MacLeod)

It might not have been the finish he hoped for but 90 other PGA Tour pros who missed playing on the weekend would have been happy to trade spots with Kingston, Ontario’s Matt McQuillan on Sunday.

The 29 year-old PGA Tour rookie closed out his 1st PGA Tour event, the SONY Open in Hawaii, with a 71 and 74 during 36 holes of play Sunday but the fact alone that he got to the final two rounds after posting an opening 68 and 69 has to be considered a small victory.  When the field was pared down to just 56 players (normally 70 players plus ties advance to the final two rounds) McQuillan was among just a handful of rookies left in the field.  It actually took him making two birdies on his final holes on Saturday to make the cut on the number.

His Sunday play was a mix of grinding pars and obvious trouble off the tee, although that had to be surmised from viewing on Shot Tracker, an online system provided by the PGA Tour, since television time is reserved for the lead players.  As such, there were plenty of people fretting over each shot in front of their computers, including Matt’s father, Mark.

The elder McQuillan was still full of pride Sunday, even though he knew his oldest child was not having the Sunday performance he was likely looking for.

“It’s kind of tough to watch.  You are feeling for him but hey, he made the cut and there were a lot of other guys who went home who would have loved to switch places with him,” he told Flagstick in a brief phone interview.  “I’m sure that whole week he was finding out a lot about what it is like to play at this level. It can’t be anything but good for him the rest of the year as he plays in more tournaments.”

McQuillan finished play in a 54th place tie with Jesper Parnevik, with each earning $12,705 and 16.5 FedEx Cup Points.

After his round in Hawaii McQuillan immediately prepared to fly to Palm Springs, California where he will now have to wait and see if he gets in this week’s Bob Hope Classic.  As of yesterday he was the third alternate for the tournament but with the weather delays and extended length of play on Sunday in Hawaii there is a good chance that some players entered in the Hope will drop out.  If three of them do then McQuillan will get his second start on the PGA Tour starting Wednesday.

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