Wise wins Air Capital Classic, secures TOUR card
June 18, 2017
By Royce Thompson, PGATOUR.COM
- Aaron Wise set a tournament record for margin of victory with his five-shot win at Crestview CC. (Alex Wood/PGA TOUR)
WICHITA, Kan. – Aaron Wise capped off a great week in Wichita with a final-round, 2-under 68 to win the 28th annual Air Capital Classic Supporting Wichita’s Youth. The 20-year-old from Cape Town, South Africa, who turns 21 on Wednesday, finished the week at 21-under 259, five shots ahead of Beau Hossler, who earned Special Temporary Membership for the remainder of the season by eclipsing the money earned by No. 100 on the previous year’s money list.
Jin Park, who played alongside Wise and Hossler, on Sunday, placed solo third, his best performance on Tour since 2015.
Wise earned $112,500 for his valiant effort around Crestview Country Club and secured his PGA TOUR card for the 2017-18 season. He became the fourth youngest winner in Tour history and the youngest Air Capital Classic champion.
“It’s a lot of history to go down with and it’s just a really cool feeling,” said Wise, who moved from No. 35 to No. 6 on the money list. “I played great all week so none of that surprises me, but it’s great to be in that position.”
Last year, Wise won the individual title at the NCAA Championship and helped the Oregon Ducks men’s golf team win their first team championship. He turned pro shortly after and qualified for Mackenzie Tour – PGA TOUR Canada, where he played seven events and posted five top-10s, including a win. He earned conditional status on the Web.com Tour for 2017 after finishing the season No. 4 on the Order of Merit.
“I didn’t know what to expect,” said Wise, about playing professional golf. “I see so many great players go up and fall back and so many great players do well. I didn’t know what to expect from myself, when I went on to the next level. To win so quickly on the Mackenzie Tour and play well, I think my worst finish was T15. It was an incredible time and gave me a bunch of confidence moving on to the Web.com Tour.”
Wise has won on every level and took the next step in his journey to the PGA TOUR this week. The Tour rookie missed the last two cuts before the breakthrough in Wichita. Wise made some changes earlier this season and they took hold this week as he set a tournament record for largest margin of victory.
“I made that change in my swing and I was obviously going to go through some rough patches,” said Wise. “It’s funny how things all come together. My short game was super sharp today. And it was good enough to carry me through it.”
Sunday’s final round grabbed Wise’s attention at certain points when Hossler and Park were making a charge. At one point, the lead was cut down to three after Wise bogeyed the fifth and sixth holes. He gathered himself and rattled off five pars in a row before a birdie at 11. Sitting at 19-under, Wise was far from in the clear as Hossler and Park stood 16-under, three back.
The nail in the coffin came at the par-5 14th hole, where Wise hit an 8-iron from 175 yards to 6 feet. The eagle took Wise to 21-under, giving him a five-shot cushion coming in.
“It was close all day long,” said Wise. “It was a big enough lead to where I wasn’t scared but I knew that if I made a big mistake, it was gone. That definitely separated it and sealed it for me.”
Wise didn’t feel like he needed a win this year but knew it would be easier to get his TOUR card with one. With a trophy under his belt, Wise is freed up to keep playing as aggressively as he did at Crestview CC this week, for the remainder of the year.
“It gets me close to locking up my PGA TOUR card for next year, which is something I can’t even imagine,” said Wise. “To win on the next stage, I won one in Canada and this is my next win. I keep taking steps in my career and this is a big step.”
Hossler also took a big step this week. The 22-year-old from Mission Viejo, California, started 2017 with no status on any Tour. Hossler took care of business this week and is exempt into the final 10 events of the Regular Season, after the reshuffle on Monday.
“It looks like I will have somewhere to play the rest of the year,” said Hossler, who moves to No. 32 on the money list. “It is a big relief for me; I didn’t have any status. I’m looking forward to the rest of the year. It’s nice to get some confidence on this level.”