Reiter rallies late for come-from-behind victory
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Written by PGA TOUR Canada Staff @PGATOURCanada
SAN JACINTO, California—Trailing by a shot with one hole to play Friday at Soboba Springs Golf Course, Charlie Reiter knew he needed to make something happen on the par-5 if he had any dreams of winning the PGA TOUR Canada Qualifying Tournament. Reiter put his approach shot on the green in two and then two-putted for birdie, and when KyleKarazissis lipped out his four-foot par attempt that would have forced a playoff, Reiter walked away at 15-under for the week and medalist honors. He beat Karazissis by a stroke, giving him access to every open PGA TOUR Canada tournament this summer.
Tyler Falk and Devon Bling (tied for third), Austen Christiansen (fifth), Jordan Costello (sixth) and Nick Cunningham (seventh) all locked up playing opportunities in PGA TOUR Canada’s first half of the season, while amateur Kento Yamawaki, Ryann Ree and Jonathan Walters had to endure a five-players-for three-spots playoff to secure their playing cards and first-half exempt status. George Markham and Perry Cohen didn’t advance in the playoff, and they will be conditionally exempt this season, along with 19 others.
Reiter was still trying to process the last hour of his round minutes after he came out victorious. He smiled knowing he was able to finish atop the leaderboard despite posting three consecutive bogeys in the middle of his round. “I lost focus for a little bit,” he said of that stretch “But I did everything I could coming down the stretch, hitting it close, and it worked out.”
After cutting Karazissis’ four-shot lead in half, with three consecutive birdies early in his round, starting at No. 4, Reiter bogeyed Nos. 8, 9 and 10 and was back trailing by four with eight holes to play. Reiter birdied No. 13 to cut the deficit to three, and a Karazissis bogey at the 14th left him only two ahead of Reiter.
On the par-3 16th, Reiter hit his tee shot to 28 feet, leaving him the farthest from the cup. Putting first, he rolled in the birdie to get to 2-under for the day. “That was the longest putt I made all week,” he said with a smile.
Karazissis had a chance to give himself a little breathing room, but his ensuing, eight-foot, right-to-left birdie putt hit the edge of the cup and lipped out, his lead only one with a hole to play.
“I knew after 17 I was one (stroke) back, and I knew I needed a good drive on 18. I put it in the middle of the fairway and hit an unbelievable second shot in there,” Reiter said of his approach shot to 18 feet. Karazissis didn’t have a good look at the green after his drive missed the fairway, and he couldn’t go for the green in two, instead laying up. Reiter missed his eagle putt, and had a four-footer coming back, while Karazissis’ birdie putt went four feet past. Reiter made his, and Karazissis couldn’t answer.
“It was good, steady golf, and fortunately it worked out,” Reiter said of his day. “I didn’t really know what I was doing (this summer), but now I have a full schedule.”
Did you know Charlie Reiter began his college career at USC, where he was a Pac-12 All-Freshman honorable mention selection. Following his first year in Los Angeles, he transferred to the University of San Diego in January 2020, eventually earning All-West Coast Conference first-team honors in 2021. His lone collegiate victory came at the Hoakalei Country Club Invitational, edging Tony Hendricks by a stroke for the individual title.
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 fifth 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 players started the tournament Tuesday, with 123 completing all 72 holes. Below is a breakdown of the various PGA TOUR Canada membership earned this week.
Players in this week’s field came from 13 countries or territories: Australia, Canada, China, Chinese Taipei, England, Finland, Japan, Mexico, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland and the United States.
• KentoYamawaki went from being a player battling to earn conditional status when the day began into someone with guaranteed starts once the PGA TOUR Canada season gets underway in June. Yamawaki was tied for 32nd through 54 holes, and he knew only the top-30 players and ties would earn membership. All the resident of Encinitas, California, did Friday was overcome a pair of bogeys to make six birdies and an eagle to shoot a 66 and rise 24 leaderboard positions in to a tie for eighth that put him in the playoff for the final three exempt spots. He advanced on the first hole, while the other four players battled to the second extra hole.
• The 66 Kento Yamawaki shot Friday was the round of the day, bettering the 67s turned in by Nick Cunningham and Nate Vontz.
• The two players who finished just outside the top-30, missing by a stroke from earning status were Charlie Saxon and Ben Geyer.
• In 2021, George Markham earned PGA TOUR Canada status by tying for sixth at the Qualifying Tournament at Soboba Springs Golf Course. Markham never played in Canada, as players that season played on the U.S.-based Forme Tour, where Markham finished 84th on the points list, making four cuts in eight starts. Markham was par or better in all four rounds this week, his final-round 68 moving him from a tie for 18th into a tie for eighth. He missed getting guaranteed starts when he lipped out his birdie putt on No. 2, while Ryann Ree and Jonathan Walters were able to birdie.
• This week, Charlie Reiter, Tyler Falk, Danny Ochoa, Ryan Emery and Jonathan Walters were the only players to post four under-par rounds at Soboba Springs.
• Englishman Nick Cunningham didn’t let an opening-round, 3-over 75 deter him from his goal this week. After regrouping following his disappointing first 18 holes, all Cunningham did was play his final 54 holes in 13-under—shooting scores of 65-71-67 that left him alone in seventh, at 10-under.
• Max Sekulic was the lone Canadian to earn status this week. Sekulic opened and closed with 2-under 70s, adding a pair of 72s in his middle rounds to finish at 4-under and tied for 21st. He’ll be conditionally exempt this season.
• Josh McCarthy finished alone in 20th, also good for conditional status. He had a wildly up-and-down week, taking the first-round lead with his 8-under 64 but faltering on day two with a 76. He returned to form in the third round with a 4-under 68 only to fire a 75 to close, leaving him at 5-under.
• Although he failed to get a playing card this week, finishing alone in 117th, Christian Maddox did have one thing to smile about. Maddox made an ace on the 212-yard 16th hole, using a 4-iron. Not only was it his first hole-in-one in competition, it was the first ace of his career.
“Those are probably the two best drives I hit all week.” –Charlie Reiter on his tee shots on Nos. 17 and 18
“Coming into today, all I wanted to do was get top 10 to get at least some status. But, obviously, having this it makes it a little more relaxing.” –Charlie Reiter
Final-Round Weather: Mostly sunny and cool. High of 62. Wind W at 3-6 mph.