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Jones, Dinsmore tied for lead through 36 at Crown Isle

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Jones, Dinsmore tied for lead through 36 at Crown Isle

    Written by PGA TOUR Canada Staff @PGATOURCanada

    COURTENAY, British Columbia—There’s something about Crown Isle Resort and Golf Club that truly appeals to Jimmy Jones’ eye, not to mention Callum McNeill’s steely view.

    Maybe it’s the fact that Jones’ legendary mom, Canadian Golf Hall of Famer Dawn Coe-Jones, hailed two hours south of here, in Lake Cowichan, that brings it all together for the Tampa-born golfer, who is following in his departed mom’s footsteps.

    Jones, now 27, and McNeill, 29, both caught fire in round two of the sixth and final PGA TOUR Canada Qualifying Tournament for the 2023 Fortinet Cup.

    Jones is tied for the lead at 9-under with Tyson Dinsmore, who was a co-leader after his first-round 66 and turned in a 3-under 69 on day two.

    Jones upped his game with a 9-under 63 as one of the early rounds Wednesday before McNeill trotted his way in with a course-record, 12-under 60 to sit another shot back, at 136.

    The three will play together in Thursday’s third round in the field of 116 players remaining. All are attempting to earn one of 10 playing spots for the Tour, which begins in earnest next week, at the Royal Beach Victoria Open in the provincial capital of Victoria.

    Jones, who tied for seventh at the Crown Isle Q-School last year, is picking up right where he left off. He was nine strokes better in the second round than his opening offering.

    “We scored well today, made a few putts, key putts,” said Jones, who gave a lot of credit to his caddie Mark Valliere. “Made an eagle on 10 that kept the train rolling. The putter was hot today, I’d say ‘el fuego,’ but you’re going to need that to shoot a score like that. Everything came together, I just happened to keep my mind on straight and kept plugging.”

    He did so in a big way, learning from past performances since turning pro in 2018. He has played in 19 Tour events, making the cut in nine, so he realizes he must get better and has challenged himself.

    “It’s all a learning curve. Every round you can pick something that you can learn from. Every time you get a chance to step on a tee and it matters, you can pick something from learning. These last two years, having a schedule, learning how to travel, learning how to live on the road and pinch a dime down—that’s where that self-belief comes in. I’ve done it before, and nothing says I can’t do it again,” said Jones. He’s worked on the mental side of the game and it’s prepared him for what’s to come.

    Of course, playing on Vancouver Island—the birthplace of his mom, who passed away from cancer in 2016—makes him that much more at home. He still calls Lake Cowichan one of his homes.

    “I’ve been coming here since I was 12 or 13 years old. I played a B.C. Junior out here in 2011 or 2012, and I think (now PGA TOUR pro Adam) Svensson won that one. My caddie, Mark, has shot 60 and 61 around this place, and he has some good insight and I’m sure I had some good reads today from him,” the very personable Jones said of Crown Isle.

    “It’s comfort. I know the holes, it’s a nice fader’s course for a guy who likes to drive it left to right. It’s a nice, comfortable environment here. A course I know I can play well on; I have in the past. Actually, the first time I ever broke 80 was here, probably in 2009, eighth-grade-ish. First time in a tournament, I think I went 74 breaking 80 for the first time. It’s just a level of comfort here and it takes some self-belief after that.”

    It’s opposite for McNeill, who had conditional Korn Ferry Tour status last season and is in Canada for the first time. The Hawick, Scotland, resident—born in Edinburgh—now resides in Houston, where he was a student of the Hal Sutton Academy.

    McNeill went from an opening-round 76 to the 60.

    “I’ve never been close to a 59 watch, but it was exciting the last four or five holes, knowing you’ve got a chance. You just have to keep your foot down,” said McNeill. “Especially after (Tuesday). I really struggled; just never felt comfortable and made some bad swings.

    “This place is in great shape, but it’s tight, so there are certain shots if you’re not comfortable and don’t know where the ball is going it’s going to make you feel really nervy. It was nice to go out there and just play solid. I hit it close all day, didn’t do anything spectacular.”

    He also credited his caddie Alan Dack, a Crown Isle member.

    “I spoke to Alan before and said, ‘Let’s just try to hit 18 fairways and 18 greens and take it from there.’ I know I’m putting good right now, so it’s a case of get on the green as quick as possible and see what happens.”

    The 60 is a personal best by three shots for McNeill, who has the words VincereVelMori written on his leather score case. It’s a heraldic motto that translates to “Victory or Death.” He’d certainly take the former.

    “It’s the McNeill clan motto,” said the Houston resident since 2013.

    He and Jones both kept their foot on the gas all day.

    McNeill recorded 30s on his front and back nines with identical six-birdie performances. Jones was 4-under at the turn then eagled No. 10 and birdied 11, 15 and 16 on his way to a personal-best 63.

    “I’ve been playing a lot of golf at home with members, giving some strokes, so that puts you in the mentality of, ‘I have to make a birdie, or this guy is going to go 4 for 3 on me and I’m going to lose the hole,’” said Jones.

    “Mark and I just kept playing the game of just getting one more birdie. One more look, one more fairway and tick it off, step by step. When you know where you’re at, you can get a little guidey out there, which is something I’ve learned from in the past.

    “You can get into uncomfortable spots sometimes,” he added, “but coming down the stretch I made a great par putt on 17 from about eight feet and got right back on the horse, telling myself we’ve got 15 more minutes of work here, two more swings and keeping the pedal down.”

    The same went for McNeill.

    “I said to Alan on the third fairway, ‘Let’s just try and go 1-under every three holes and reset.’ But with what happened (Tuesday, with his 76), I knew with it being a little quirky and tight, you’ve got to stay fully committed. You can’t take your foot off the gas,” he said.

    He recorded two turkey-trots—three birdies in a row—from holes 5 to 7 and 13 to 15, and it was the latter that gave him a crack at 59.

    “I said to Alan that we need two (birdies) in the last three holes (for a 59), but I felt really calm the whole time, which is strange probably because of preparation and confidence coming in,” he said.

    He rounded it out with two pars to miss the magical 59 mark, but he also lipped out for eagle on his very first hole or that would have written another story.

    As for Dinsmore, the Los Altos Hills, California, native, who played at Southern Methodist University, has been Mr. Consistency, following his first-round 66 with a 69. The 18-hole co-leader, along with fellow American Carr Vernon, is in a great position.

    Asked if someone would have told him he’d be tied for the lead halfway through, Dinsmore replied, chuckling: “I would have been pretty shocked, pretty surprised, but I wouldn’t have any complaints.”

    Dinsmore admitted he had “no real goal,” coming into the qualifying school. “Just make good swings and keep it in play. If you do, you’re going to have chances.”

    The quiet, unassuming 23-year-old actually was the solo leader, at 11-under, after 11 holes, but he ran into a string of bogeys at Nos. 3, 7 and 8. He bounced back with a birdie on 9, his last hole of the day as he started his round on the easier back nine.

    “I had it going pretty good for a while,” said Dinsmore, who was 3-under 33 on his first nine.

    Canadian Max Sear recorded a 3-under 69 to go with his opening 67 to sit tied for third at 136 with McNeill and fellow Canadian Lawren Rowe a shot back in fifth after rounds of 70-67. Sear does play out of Royal Colwood in Victoria and Rowe is a former University of Victoria Vike.

    Did you know the top-20 collegiate players earned some form of PGA TOUR, Korn Ferry Tour or PGA TOUR Canada status from their PGA TOUR University standings? Palmer Jackson finished 21st, just missing out and is, instead, here at Crown Isle. He opened with a 75 and followed it Wednesday with a 71 but has some work to do to earn his status. Jackson enjoyed a stellar career at Notre Dame, winning four times, was named a 2022 Ping All-American and played on the 2022 U.S. Walker Cup team.

    Key Information

    How the Tournament Works

    There are 116 players in this week’s field. Below is a breakdown of the various PGA TOUR Canada membership statuses available this week.

    Finish PositionStatus
    MedalistExempt membership for the 2023 season
    2nd through 10th (no ties)Exempt through the reshuffle, which will occur approximately halfway through the season
    11th through 30th (plus ties)Conditional membership

    There are 15 amateurs playing at Crowne Isle Resort. Leading the way is Canadian Matthew Anderson, tied for 12th.

    What a difference a year makes for Ty Campbell. After struggling at Crown Isle in 2022 the Saskatoon native has caught some life after a two-day total of 138, which included a tidy 4-under 68 on Wednesday. That 68 included a deuce on the par-4 11th hole that plays 401 yards from the tips. “I hit a good tee ball, and then with the back-left pin, kind of tucked, I had a good (yardage) number. I hit a good shot and didn’t see it go in. I got up there, saw a ball mark that was just shy with no ball. I checked the hole, and it was in. It was a good way to start the back,” said Campbell, who holed his pitching-wedge approach.

    Tied for for sixth at 6-under, Ty Campbell is encouraged by his play through 36 holes. “It feels good, a lot better than last year. I was not even close,” he said of his play at Crown Isle in 2022. He did qualify for the Elk Ridge Open last year, but officials canceled the tournament due to inclement weather. “My home event. I was so excited to play, and I was playing well. It was disappointing. Hopefully I’ll have another chance here,” he said.

    Lawren Rowe is another player trying to find his groove in the pro game after a stellar career at the University of Victoria. Rowe has rounds of 70-67 for a 137 total, good for fifth place. “It was pretty solid,” he said of his 5-under round Wednesday. “It started a little rough, but it was nice to clean up the round a bit halfway through and finish strong, which was solid. I got it running a bit with the putter.”

    Recording a 4-under 32 on his back nine led to Lawren Rowe’s second-round 67 as he continues to gain status, like he did last year at the tournament in suburban Tacoma, Washington, where he finished second. “I did well at Q-school and never really got anything going (during the season),” said Rowe, who missed the cut at the Royal Beach Victoria Open. “That event is always important for me to get to. I have a lot of experience at that track (Uplands Golf Club where UVic called home),” said Rowe, who turned pro in 2019. “There are lots of ups and downs, and you get used to losing, that’s for sure,” he said with a chuckle.

    Making the jump from amateur to pro is no easy task. Just ask A.J. Ewart, who is attempting to make that leap after a solid amateur career with Golf Canada and at Barry University. “I’m happy. Nothing has been going great, everything has just been OK, but I’m staying patient and waiting for the right chance,” he said after his round of 70 left him at 3-under 141 total. “It’s challenging. You come from being one of the top guys in amateur golf and then you come here, and you’re looking at the bottom of the totem pole. I’m just trying to work my way up,” he said. “I know my game is good, but so are these other guys’. I’m just looking at learning and improving every day.”

    Comparing college golf to the professional life, A.J. Ewart is learning playing for play is not as glamorous as some people may think. “It’s hard work. It’s no joke. It’s my job now, and I love that it’s my job and that I can play golf every day and not have to worry about school and everything else. I’m excited for what’s to come,” he stressed.

    It would be hard to find anyone at this Qualifying School with a better attitude than Jordan Oelrich. After an opening-round 75 Tuesday, the Salmon Arm, British Columbia, resident turned in a 70 in the second round on his return to competitive golf. “I quit golf for 10 years after junior and got back into it. I was shooting 81 a year ago. My first tournament in like 12 years was a Monday qualifier for the B.C. Championship, and I think I shot 3- or 4-over. It’s come a long way since then. It feels like a long time, but it’s only been a year,” said the optimistic Kelowna, British Columbia, native. “The goal is to secure a job,” he said, when asked about his appearance here. “(Tuesday) I shot 75 and had 115 feet of putts.

    Jordan Oelrich took a penalty on hole No. 5 Tuesday, his ball catching the edge of the bunker, bounding off the cart path and landing eight inches out of bounds. “That’s golf and it is what it is. I felt great after [Tuesday] even though I was 3-over,” he said with that optimistic view.

    Callum McNeill calls 14-time PGA TOUR winner and major champion Hal Sutton his mentor, benefiting from some mental coaching from the Louisiana native. McNeill is under the tutelage of Chase Cooper, the head instructor at the Sutton Academy.

    Thirty-two players are under par after the first two rounds and another seven are at even-par 144

    First-round co-leader Carr Vernon fell back to even-par 72 after an opening 66 and is in a six-way tie for sixth place.


    “It’s always great coming back to the Island. I see a lot of familiar faces and I meet a ton of people who have made an impact on my life that I wouldn’t think about or know. I met some people last year who were at my mom’s first Tour win in Hawaii. It’s funny, you put it all together, they were from Lake Cowichan, came to Hawaii and happened to have (watched) a win. It seems like I get a couple of new stories every time I come here, and they make me smile the whole time. It makes me humble, and it makes me play for something a little greater than just golf and I wear that on my sleeve.” – Jimmy Jones on what makes returning to Vancouver Island, the birthplace of his mom Dawn Coe-Jones, special

    “You have to be able to work it both ways off the tee. I’m kind of accepting on the left-to-right shots not to hit driver, to lay back. Fairways are a premium here. It’s all target golf.” – Max Sear

    “I took a quick peek. I feel like the morning is playing a lot easier, not necessarily because of temperature and the wind, but mainly just firmness of the golf course. And you have 116 guys playing, so the greens do get a little bumpier and the poa (annua) tends to bud a little in the afternoon. In the afternoon, it’s more stay within yourself, give yourself looks and make sure you don’t hit it on the wrong side of the hole because you’ll make bogeys.” – Max Sear on the difference between morning and afternoon rounds

    “I played here last year. I know the feelings. I played on this Tour all last summer, and I just need to keep doing what I’m doing and lean on my support team with questions. It’s one hole at a time, one shot at a time.” – Max Sear

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