Springer wins Fortinet Cup Championship, secures Player of the Year honors
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CALGARY, Alberta – Hayden Springer, the hottest player on PGA TOUR Canada the last three weeks, finished strong on Sunday and walked away with all the biggest prizes.
Springer showed little sign of nerves when he fired a 4-under 67 in the final round to finish 22-under and post a five-shot victory at the season-ending Fortinet Cup Championship at Country Hills Golf Club.
The victory was his second in three weeks and earned Springer Player of the Year honors, which goes to the the top spot on the Fortinet Cup standings, a season-long points race that rewards the winner with a full exemption on the 2024 Korn Ferry Tour, along with a $25,000 bonus and an exemption into the final stage of PGA TOUR Q-School. He also receives an exemption into the PGA TOUR’s Fortinet Championship in Napa, California, and an exemption into the 2024 RBC Canadian Open.
“It’s perfect,” Springer said. “I’m feeling grateful and blessed to be in this position. It seems like the last few weeks I’ve done a good job not getting ahead of myself and just kind of hanging in there, just playing solid.”
Springer began the day tied for the lead with rookie Derek Hitchner and the day evolved as expected, with Springer and Hitchner going head-to-head in the final group for the second-straight day. Springer took a two-shot lead at No. 2 when he made a birdie and Hitchner took a bogey. However, Hitchner never gained much traction after that and ended up shooting 2-over 73 to finish in a tie for third place at 16-under.
“These last few days were windy, so I was just trying to hang in there,” Springer said. “I just really tried to stay focused the entire day. I haven’t really looked at the leaderboards a whole lot. But I’ve been able to hit some good shots and make the putts and kind of pull away, which is always nice.”
Springer extended the lead to four strokes with birdies on the seventh and eighth holes, and it remained there after he made the turn at 20-under for the week. But there was a two-shot swing on the 10th hole when Springer took a bogey and Hitchner made a birdie.
Springer regained the three-shot lead with a birdie at No. 13. He stretched it to a four-shot advantage by making birdie on the par-3 16th and made it a five-shot cushion with a birdie at No. 17.
“Coming up 18 with a little bit of a cushion and not having to worry too much about it. My focus was on staying focused,” Springer said.
Yi Cao, another player who was on a hot streak during this final leg of the season, finished with a 66 and moved into solo second place at 17-under. Cao, who won last week’s CRMC Championship presented by Gertens, was playing four groups ahead of the leaders. He began his charge with four birdies on the front nine that pulled him within two shots of the lead.
Jeffrey Kang closed with a 63, the low round of the day, and tied for third with Hitchner. Kang had eight birdies and no bogeys on his card, but came up just short of a top-five finish in the Fortinet Cup race.
“I played pretty aggressively all week,” Kang said. “It’s kind of win-or-go-home this week, so I think from the start I tried to be aggressive.”
Tied for fifth at 14-under were Myles Creighton, Noah Steele and Eric McCardle, who each shot 68, and Eric Lilleboe, who shot 69.
Fortinet Cup Standings
(Final Standings for 2023)
|Pos.||Player||Points||Rank Last Week|
|1||Hayden Springer (United States)||1,311||4|
|2||Sam Choi (United States)||1,276||1|
|3||Davis Lamb (United States)||1,173||2|
|4||Étienne Papineau (Canada)||982||3|
|5||Yi Cao (China)||963||9|
|6||Jeffrey Kang (United States)||760||11|
|7||Stuart Macdonald (Canada)||718||5|
|8||John Pak (United States)||708||6|
|9||Davis Shore (United States)||686||7|
|10||Devon Bling (United States)||646||8|
The 2023 Fortinet Cup Championship was a no-cut, 72-hole tournament closing out the 10-event PGA TOUR Canada season. All 60 players who qualified for this week’s Fortinet Cup Championship will earn membership on the 2024 PGA TOUR Americas through the Latin American swing. These players received the following additional player benefits:
|Pos.||2023 Korn Ferry Tour Status||Player|
|No. 1||Eligible for every open tournament||Hayden Springer|
|Nos. 2-5||Conditional status (subject to first reshuffle)||Sam ChoiDavis LambEtienne PapineauYi Cao|
The top-five finishers are also exempt into the final stage of PGA TOUR Q-School. No. 6-25 finishers are exempt into the second stage of the PGA TOUR Q-School presented by Korn Ferry.
The 25th spot went to George Kneiser, even though he shot 75 on Sunday and dropped 23 spots into a tie for 46th. The hard-luck losers were Tommy Kuhl, who fell from 23rd to 27th despite a final-round 69, and Jason Hong, who shot 73-77 on the weekend and dropped from No. 22 to No. 30.
Unlike his previous win, Hayden Springer’s wife, Emma, was on hand for the victory. The two met while going to school at Texas Christian University, where she played on the women’s golf team.
Yi Cao’s bogey-free streak ended at 112 holes when he took a five on the par-4 12th on Sunday. His last bogey had come on the seventh hole during the first round of last week’s CRMC Championship.
Tyler Strafaci had to withdraw after the third round because of an injury, leaving Kyle Karazissis to play by himself on Sunday and shoot 67, his best round of the week.
“It just means a lot to me to go out there and fight and finally make a lot of birdies and put a good round together. It’s been a great season. I’m thrilled with how I played today and it’s nice to end the season on a high note.” – Davis Lamb
“Three months ago, I had no status and was playing mini-tour events or poor status on TOUR events. Things happened pretty quickly from there. I was No. 1 for a long time. So it’s easy to stay that it’s disappointing not to finish No. 1, but in hindsight, from where I started and where I am now and move up next year, it feels great.” – Davis Lamb
“I feel like I’ve kind of played really well, hit the ball well, putted pretty good. My game sort of fit into a lot of courses we played. I think that’s a big reason I gave myself a lot of chances, week-in and week-out.” – Jeffrey Kang
“I kind of look at it like just hanging in there and when you get in the position to have a chance to win, you just stay there as long as you can. Just try to stay focused and not let the stuff going on around you – the leaderboards, the people, all that stuff – be a distraction. I think I can take that to the next level and hopefully be in a position to have a chance to win in the future.” – Hayden Springer
“I didn’t know that was in play until earlier this week, so that was kind of a little bit of a surprise. Anytime you can get into a PGA TOUR event, that’s more experience and another opportunity. I’m looking forward to that.” – Hayden Springer on receiving an exemption to compete in next week’s PGA TOUR Fortinet Championship in Napa, California.
Final-Round Weather: Mostly sunny and pleasant with a high of 22°C. Winds out of SSE 9-19 km/h with gusts up to 45km/h.