Five to Watch at PGA TOUR Canada Q-School in Weston
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Written by PGA TOUR Canada Staff @PGATOURCanada
WESTON, Florida—The Club at Weston Hills hosts the first of six PGA TOUR Canada Qualifying Tournaments beginning this week. From February 21-24, players will compete to secure membership for the 2023 PGA TOUR Canada season. This first event kicks off a series of tournaments at three eastern U.S. locations, with the first two tournaments held in Florida (here and Howey-in-the-Hills) and the third in Dothan, Alabama.
Here’s a look at five players to keep your eyes on this week.
Raised in Stoughton, Wisconsin, Samuel Anderson played four years of golf at the University of Wisconsin. During the final months of his senior year, in 2021, Anderson played his first Q-School, in Dothan, Alabama. He just missed earning a handful of guaranteed starts by losing in a four-for-one playoff, walking away with conditional status for that season’s Forme Tour, a U.S.-based Tour created for PGA TOUR Canada players who couldn’t compete in Canada due to the global pandemic. Anderson was unable to earn a spot in any Forme Tour tournament. As a last-ditch effort to get some professional golf under his belt, Anderson traveled to Canada to play in a Canada-based circuit, where he finished 32nd on the Points List.
“I was really anxious to play,” Anderson remembered. “I was so close to getting into all the (Forme Tour) events, but it never happened. We were still in the midst of the pandemic, but once the border opened, I went to Canada and played [there]. I played four events in four straight weeks, and it was an unbelievable experience for me right after college.”
In November of that same year, he earned conditional membership on PGA TOUR Latinoamérica. In his first season in Latin America, he played 12 2021-22 events, making nine cuts and finishing 35th on the Totalplay Cup Points List after ending the season with back-to-back, top-five finishes.
“I had little to no expectations when I went into the first PGATLA season,” he said. “I played OK but wasn’t seeing the finishes I needed until the last regular season event. In that event, I birdied my 36th hole to make the cut then finished 62-62 on the weekend to finish T5, which gave me hope. In the (Bupa) Tour Championship, I finished T4 to go from 87th place to 35th in the last two weeks of the season, which allowed me to keep my card for the next year. It was a nice way to finish the season.”
Riding high off that inspiring finish, Anderson played well in the Second Stage of Korn Ferry Tour Q-School, but bogeyed the 72nd hole to narrowly miss advancing to the Final Stage and securing his Korn Ferry Tour card.
“I had to step back after that and take some time off. I missed my card by one shot, and it messed with me a bit. This is as much a mental game as it is physical, and in professional golf I believe you have these different stages of maturation. It’s such an individual sport. And, if you don’t have everything aligned off the course, it will easily transfer to your game.”
Although Anderson retained eligibility to play in this year’s PGA TOUR Latinoamérica season, he didn’t make a cut in the first three events in the 2022 portion of the wraparound schedule He is now spending his time—during the three-month break in between PGA TOUR Latinoamérica events—working on his game with his coaches.
“Now there are expectations,” Anderson admits. “But, when my golf is good, it’s really, really good. What I’m learning to do is clean up my bad golf. I’m working on remaining consistent. I’m really excited for the opportunity to play in Canada, though. Since I grew up in Wisconsin, those courses remind me of home. I would love to keep the progression of things going.”
Hailing from Georgia Southern University, Ben Carr placed in the top eight in nine of 12 events he played during the 2021-2022 season, including posting five top-fives and a victory at the Bank of Tennessee Collegiate. He finished last season with the Eagles ranked second in scoring average among Sun Belt Conference players (70.81) and ranked 82nd nationally by Golfstat. He reached as high No. 48 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking.
In August 2022, Carr dramatically made it to the finals of the U.S. Amateur at Ridgewood Country Club in New Jersey, where he faced fellow 22-year-old Sam Bennett. In the end, Bennett bested Carr with a 1-up victory. By virtue of making the championship match, they earned invitations to the 2023 U.S. Open at Los Angeles Country Club and an invitation to the Masters Tournament next month.
After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania in 2019 Summa cum laude, Josh Goldenberg turned professional and quickly earned conditional membership on both the PGA TOUR Canada and PGA TOUR Latinoamérica. Although he missed the cut in both of his 2020-21 PGA TOUR Latinoamérica appearances, he made his mark at the New York State Open at Bethpage State Park’s Black Course, by tying for second with former Korn Ferry Tour player Jason Caron, two strokes behind winner and Korn Ferry Tour veteran James Nicholas.
In 2021 and 2022, he tried his hand in both Tours’ Qualifying Tournaments once again, earning conditional status and a number of starts in both Canada and Latin America. It it wasn’t until his win in the Dev Series Final in July—a tournament run by PGA TOUR Latinoamérica that offers players membership opportunities—that he was able to secure a full exemption for the 2022-23 PGA TOUR Latinamérica season. As a current member, the 25-year-old New Yorker has made three cuts, with one top-25 and one top-10 this season.
The Auburn alum, who was teammates with Korn Ferry Tour members Jacob Solomon and Trace Crowe, turned pro in 2021, and in his first PGA TOUR Latinoamérica event he Monday-qualified into The Club at Weston Hills Open, the same course he’ll be returning to this week. Huff made the most of his opportunity, finishing with four sub-par rounds (66-67-70-68)—to tie for fifth, with a 17-under 271, marking what would be his season-best finish. Huff returned to the U.S. in late summer to play in four Forme Tour events, making the cut in three, before heading back onto the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica scene for the start of 2021-22 season.
In Latin America last season, Huff played 12 events, making the weekend in eight of those tournaments and finishing with two top-25s. He finished the season ranked 51st on the Totalplay Cup points list, maintaining his 2022-23 membership, as well. He has played all three events in the 2022-23 PGA TOUR Latinoamérica wrap-around season, finishing the most recent event, in Chile, in mid-December with a tie for 24th.
James Nicholas did not start taking golf seriously until his sophomore season at Yale University, as he also played safety for the football team his freshman season the fall of 2015. He went on to become the Metropolitan Golf Association Player of the Year in 2017 and Ivy League Player of the Year in both 2018 and 2019. The pre-med Yale grad turned pro in 2019 and earned his first Korn Ferry Tour start at the Korn Ferry Challenge in June 2020 when he Monday-qualified into the event with a bogey-free 61. That same year, he won the New York State Open at Bethpage State Park’s Black Course, closing with a 3-under 68 to win by two strokes over Goldenberg and Caron. He went on to play 30 Korn Ferry Tour events in 2020 and 2021, making 16 cuts and four top-25s.
Since then, Nicholas has seen action in various PGA TOUR, Korn Ferry Tour, PGA TOUR Canada and PGA TOUR Latinoamérica events. The 24-year-old also moonlights as an avid outdoor photographer and social influencer.