Amateur Armstrong wins Qualifying Tournament
March 30, 2018
By Laury Livsey, PGATOUR.COM
- Amateur Dawson Armstrong shot a final-round 66 to win the Qualifying Tournament by one stroke. (Photo courtesy of Lipscomb University Athletics)
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Florida—Dawson Armstrong entered the second Mackenzie Tour – PGA TOUR Canada Qualifying Tournament as an amateur. He still is. But as he said, after a final-round 66 that earned him medalist honors on a cool, drizzly day, “I won’t be one for much longer.” The Lipscomp University senior had a spotless scorecard Friday, with four birdies and an eagle to come from behind on the final day to win the event by a stroke over fellow Americans Justin Doeden and Christopher Hickman. Americans Ian Davis (fourth) and Dalton Ward (fifth) rounded out the top five. Armstrong will be fully exempt on the Tour for the entire 2018 season, while Doeden, Hickman, Davis and Ward earn exemptions into the first eight tournaments on the schedule.
Armstrong began the final round at TPC Sawgrass’ Dye’s Valley Course tied for fifth place, and he began his last 18 holes in style, making birdie at No. 1. He added birdies at No. 5 and No. 9 to move to 3-under for the day and 8-under overall. It was his birdie on the ninth that really gave him momentum. Facing a 40-foot putt for birdie, Armstrong canned it. He made a similar-length putt, on the 17th, when he just missed the green on his second-shot approach into the par-5. From four yards off the green and 35 feet overall, Armstrong elected to putt, making that, as well, which—although he didn’t know it—cemented the victory.
- Dawson Armstrong will wait to see what his Lipscomb University team does with the NCAA Regionals and Championship approaching. If the team qualifies, or if he qualifies as an individual, he will likely remain an amateur and turn pro following the NCAAs. A year ago, the Bisons qualified as a team and Armstrong competed in the individual portion of the tournament.
- Besides his college success, Dawson Armstrong won the 2015 Western Amateur (beating former Mackenzie Tour winners Robby Shelton in the semifinals and Aaron Wise in the championship match). That same summer, Armstrong also won the Dogwood Invitational at Atlanta’s Druid Hills Golf Club.
- This week, Dawson Armstrong made 14 birdies and two eagles during his 72 holes, a scorecard that also included five bogeys and a double bogey that got him to his winning 11-under.
- Christopher Hickman made his last bogey of the tournament at No. 10 Friday and then played his final eight holes in 4-under to secure his tie for second. No. 17 was key to the former East Tennessee State player’s finish. Hickman put his tee shot into the water on the par-5. After a drop, he hit his 4-iron approach from a little more than 200 yards to 10 feet, making that putt for a birdie—even with a penalty stroke.
- Trey Rule was toiling along, tied for 24th, when the final day began. His first nine Friday yielded nothing in the way of scoreboard movement for the Mercer University product, with a bogey and a birdie on his scorecard. When he moved to his final nine of the day, he continued to tread water with nothing but pars on the first six holes. Rule then made something happen as he birdied his final three holes of the day—Nos. 7, 8 and 9, a finish that allowed him to tie for 14th to earn exemptions into the first four events of the 2018 season. Rule has never played in a PGA TOUR-affiliated tournament, his closest brushes coming at a 2017 PGA TOUR Latinoamerica Qualifying Tournament and this week’s event.
- Cory Churchman was well out of position to earn any playing status late in his final round Friday, a fact punctuated by his bogey at No. 15. Yet Churchman birdied No. 16, he eagled No. 17 and he parred No. 18 to finish at 6-under and tied for 21st to earn conditional status.
- Will Cannon, a University of Alabama-Birmingham product, shot a 5-over 77 in the third round and then improved on that by 11 strokes Friday. Cannon moved from a tie for 70th when the day began to a tie for 28th, good for conditional status this season. Cannon’s 66 tied him with winner Dawson Armstrong, Christopher Hickman and Cory Churchman for the low round of the day.
- Olin Browne, Jr. tied for 35th to earn conditional status this season. His caddie this week was his father, Olin Browne, a current PGA TOUR Champions player with two wins under his belt, three PGA TOUR titles on his resume and four Web.com Tour wins.
“I hit it way too well to leave that many shots out there. I could go on and on about things I could have done differently, but I’m very happy with today. I’d give it a B-plus overall.” –Dawson Armstrong
“I had those two big putts go in, one on 9 and one on 17. If it weren’t for those putts, I would have shot 68. They were big.” –Dawson Armstrong
“I felt the wheels were coming off a little on No. 10. I hit it in the water but got up and down for bogey, I two-putted for par on 11 and then birdied 12 and 13.” –Christopher Hickman
“I couldn’t make anything. I didn’t putt very well. I had one up-and-down I missed on 12, and I had six makeable birdie putts on the rest of the holes (on the back nine) and just couldn’t get them to fall.” –Ian Davis
“Right now I’m a little disappointed and frustrated. But trying to look at it big picture, I have somewhere to play this year, and I’m excited about that. Eight events should be enough to show what I can do.” –Ian Davis
“It was a long week, for sure. I’m just surprised we were able to finish today with the thunderstorms and everything I was just expecting to come out, play a couple of holes and then finish [Saturday].” –Trey Rule
Did you know Davis Armstrong
plays college golf at Lipscomb University with his two brothers, Dowling and Davis? The Armstrong boys’ father, Dale, also attended Lipscomb and played on the golf team.
Did you know Corey Churchman
attended the same high school as four-time PGA TOUR winner and current PGA TOUR Champions player Bob Estes? Both graduated from Abilene’s Cooper High School in Texas.
Tournament Fast Fact
The third of five Qualifying Tournaments begins next week in Arizona, from April 3-6, at The Wigwam Golf Resort’s Gold Course in Phoenix.
How the Qualifying Tournament Worked
There were 132 players competing this week, with 125 completing all 72 holes. Below is a breakdown of the various status available and who qualified for what.
Exempt for the 2018 season
2nd through 5th (no ties)
Justin Doeden (T2)
Christopher Hickman (T2)
Ian Davis (4)
Dalton Ward (5)
Fully exempt for the first eight 2018 tournaments and subject to the second re-shuffle
6th through 16th (no ties)
Blake Trimble (6)
Ryan Elmore (7)
a-Ben Griffin (8)
Andrew Dorn (T9)
Jarrett Swan (T9)
a-William Register (T9)
a-Theo Humphrey (T9)
a-Cole Miller (T9)
Trey Rule (14)
Will play off Saturday for the final two spots
Ashton Van Horne
Fully exempt for the first four 2018 tournaments and subject to the first reshuffle
17th through 40th (plus ties)
Cory Churchman (T21)
Thomas Bass (T21)
Randall Herriott (T21)
Chad McCann (T21)
David Holmes (T21)
Evan Russell (T21)
Kyle Driscoll (T21)
Will Cannon (T28)
a-Lee Hodges (T28)
Ben Hargis (T28)
Dillon Board (T28)
JD Tomlinson (T28)
Zach Jaworski (T28)
Pablo Mena Medrano (T28)
Eric Banks (T35)
a-Cristian DiMarco (T35)
Kyle Pilgrim (T35)
Olin Browne, Jr. (T35)
Jordan Gumberg (T35)
Vince Whaley (T35)
Austin James (T35)
Conor Richardson (T35)
a-Barry Babbitt (T35)
Raoul Menard (T35)
Conditionally exempt for the 2018 season
Final-Round Weather Report
Sunny, warm and breezy in the morning. High of 74. Wind variable at 7-12 mph. A front moved through the area beginning at 1 p.m., with rain falling off and on all afternoon. High of 66. Wind N at 2 mph.