Hong pulls away to claim title at The Wigwam
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Written by PGA TOUR Canada Staff @PGATOURCanada
LITCHFIELD PARK, Arizona—When the final round of PGA TOUR Canada’s fourth Qualifying Tournament of the year got underway, amateur Jason Hong was tied for third with two others, two strokes behind 54-hole pacesetter Will Grimmer. Hong wasted little time cutting into his deficit and ultimately pulled away down the stretch to win the tournament at The Wigwam, defeating fellow amateur Chase Sienkiewicz and Blake Tomlinson by three strokes, with Grimmer four back.
Hong will be eligible to play in every PGA TOUR Canada Fortinet Cup tournament once the season gets underway in June, while Sienkiewicz, Tomlinson and Grimmer, along with Chris Francoeur, Andrew Paisley, Andrew Garner, Jack Trent, Matt Liringis and Alex Herrmann will be eligible for all tournaments in the season’s first half. Herrmann defeated Luis Gagne and Henry Lee by making an eagle on the first extra hole (No. 1) to secure the final spot. Besides Gagne and Lee, an additional 19 players earned PGA TOUR Canada membership and conditional status.
Hong was clearly the best player on a week where different weather seemed to show up every day. The Lipscomb University graduate student played flawless golf, with no bogeys on his opening nine—the back nine at The Wigwam—for a 3-under 33. On No. 1 after making the turn, he made an eagle on the par-5 then added birdies on his 13th and 14th holes to take a three-shot lead with three holes remaining. He pared in for the final winning margin.
On his eagle, Hong hit a driver and then stuffed his wedge-shot approach to three feet. “That was probably one of the best shots of the day,” he noted. It also gave him the lead he would not give up.
On March 5, the Lipscomb golf team finished eighth at the University of Michigan-hosted Desert Mountain Collegiate in nearby Scottsdale. That week, Hong and teammate Gregor McKenzie led the Bisons, tying for 23rd. More importantly, perhaps, at least for Hong, was Bison Coach Will Brewer’s willingness to take Hong to The Wigwam and let him have a look around at the course where he would play his Qualifying Tournament.
“We came here last month as a team, and I checked out the course. As soon as I got here, I realized I felt pretty comfortable here. I’m a good driver of the ball and a good wedge player, There’s a lot of that on this course, so I think I took advantage of that.”
About his summer plans assured, Hong thought for a moment and then fought back tears. “Everything is going to be new. It’s crazy to think I’m going to become a professional golfer,” he said. “I’ve been close to giving up the game a few times. To know I have a job this summer, I’m very psyched about that.”
Did you know Jason Hong is the second amateur to win a Qualifying Tournament this year? In March, in Howey-in-the-Hills, Florida, Liberty University’s Jonathan Yaun was a five-shot winner over Cole Bradley.
How the Tournament Worked
PGA TOUR Canada, along with PGA TOUR Latinoamérica, are international PGA TOUR-sanctioned tours that provide access to the Korn Ferry Tour and are part of the pathway to the PGA TOUR. Since its inception in 2013, PGA TOUR Canada has held 33 Qualifying Tournaments across the U.S. and Canada. This event was the fourth of six 2023 PGA TOUR Canada Qualifiers scheduled in advance of the 2023 season. Each qualifier is a 72-hole, no-cut event, with playoffs, if necessary, for the medalist position and for the 10th and final position available.
One-hundred-thirty-one players started the tournament Tuesday, with 129 completing all 18 holes.
• Players in this week’s field came from 13 countries or territories: Australia, Canada, China, Costa Rica, England, Germany, Mexico, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Puerto Rico, Sweden, Thailand and the United States.
• A day after 28 players shot rounds in the 60s, that number dropped to 22. In total, there were 61 sub-70 scores this week.
• For the week, the par-4 13th was the most-difficult hole, with only 35 birdies there in four rounds against 165 bogeys, 29 double bogeys and four “others,” a triple bogey-7 the worst score on the hole. The cumulative stroke average was 4.385. The par-5 first was the easiest hole, with 220 birdies vs. 36 bogeys, seven double bogeys and five others. There was quadruple bogey-9 there, giving it a scoring average of 4.656.
• Only Henry Lee, who tied for 10th but fell in a playoff to Alex Herrmann for the final exempt position, had four under-par rounds this week. He fired rounds of 71-70-71-70. Only five others four par-or-better scores.
• Luis Gagne turned in the low round of the day Friday, shooting a 7-under 65 that moved him up 18 leaderboard positions. He picked up the top-10 showing with his tie for 10th, but the Costa Rican, who lives in Orlando, will be conditionally exempt this season after not emerging from the three-players-for-one-spot playoff that AlexHerrmann won.
• An amateur has won a Qualifying Tournament at least once in each of the last three years. In 2021, Pepperdine’s ClayFeagler won the tournament at The Wigwam, defeating another amateur, BlakeWagoner. Last year, Clemson’s JacobBridgeman won the Dothan, Alabama, qualifier. Jason Hong is the latest amateur to enjoy success at PGA TOUR Canada Q-School.
• Arizona State graduate and local resident NicoloGalletti had a solid final 36 holes after early struggles. Galletti earned PGA TOUR Canada status for the first time, with his tie for 14th, thanks to back-to-back scores of 66-67 on Thursday and Friday.
• Although he tied for 101st, TreyWinstead did have a highlight Friday during his even-par 72. He made a hole-in-one at the 192-yad sixth, using a 7-iron. It was his third career ace and second in competition.
“I was hitting my wedge shots really close. I would say I hit at least 10 inside 10 feet. It was a pretty easy 7-under round.” –Jason Hong
“It feels great. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve won a golf tournament since I was 17. It’s pretty awesome to win this one.” –Jason Hong
“I feel like this week I had a different level of focus that I haven’t had before. Just knowing there’s a lot on the line helped me play better. I learned a lot this week about myself.” –Jason Hong
“I don’t know if it was concentration or focus or whatever, but that shouldn’t happen.” –Alex Herrmann on his three bogeys
“I felt like all week long my game was good enough to make it.” –Alex Hermann
Final-Round Weather: Sunny and hot, with a high of 83. Wind W at 5-7 mph.