Sanders surges into two-shot lead at Mackenzie Tour Qualifying Tournament
March 05, 2020
By Staff, PGATOUR.COM
- March 05, 2020
- Sanders fired a flawless 69 on Thursday to grab the lead in Florida. (Chris Cox/PGATOUR.COM)
HOWEY-IN-THE-HILLS, Florida —The fourth time just may be the charm for David Sanders.
Playing in his fourth career Mackenzie Tour—PGA TOUR Canada Qualifying Tournament, the 29-year-old posted a bogey-free 69 Thursday to move to 6-under overall and into the solo lead at Mission Inn Resort and Club. Alex Smalley is two shots back at 4-under 212, while Isaiah Salinda and Harrison Rhoades are tied for third. Amateur Thomas Forster of England is solo-fifth.
“I’ve played the Mackenzie Tour and Korn Ferry qualifiers the last four or five years and didn’t get through first stage,” Sanders said. “I missed by one shot this year. I’ve been playing my whole life. I was really good as a junior and when I turned pro about seven or eight years ago I struggled the first few years. The game was always there. It just never seemed to click during Q School.”
It has certainly seemed to click this week for the Mount Laurel, N.J., native, who has yet to finish better than a tie for 75th in a Mackenzie Tour Qualifying Tournament. After making the turn at even-par Thursday, Sanders carded birdies on Nos. 11 and 12 before adding one more at the par-4 16th.
He also tallied critical 10-foot par saves on Nos. 3 and 15.
“Going into today I just wanted to play smart and place my shots well,” said the Jupiter, Fla., resident. “I didn’t try to play aggressive, but it was tough out there. I hit a lot of greens, a lot of two-putts. Just tried to keep it under the hole and keep everything in front of me.”
Smalley, the second-round co-leader, stayed within striking distance after carding an even-par 72. He was four-over through the first three holes before posting a trio of birdies on Nos. 4 through 6, then added three more on the back nine. Bogeys on Nos. 9 and 18 kept him from matching Sanders atop the leaderboard.
He just may need another low round on Friday to catch a motivated Sanders.
“It’s been a lot of work, a lot of tournaments,” Sanders said. “I’ve been grinding for a while. This would be a huge opportunity for me.”
- This is the second of seven Mackenzie Tour – PGA TOUR Canada qualifying tournaments before the season begins May 28 at the Canada Life Open. Blake Elliott won the first qualifying tournament at TPC San Antonio in February.
- David Sanders has appeared in one career event on the Korn Ferry Tour, Mackenzie Tour—PGA TOUR Canada and PGA TOUR Latinoamérica. He has yet to make a cut.
- Until last year Sanders was roommates with Albin Choi, who caddied for Sungjae Im during his win last week at The Honda Classic. Sanders spent the weekend with Choi and later celebrated the win with him.
- Sanders played in a mini tour event last week at Mission Inn Resort and Club, making a hole-in-one on the 15th hole.
- Sanders attended a community college in New Jersey before moving on to Campbell University, though he did not play for the golf team.
- Thomas Forster is the low amateur, as he shot a 71 Thursday to move into solo fifth at 2-under 214. Forster, a native of Northamptonshire, England, is a senior at Carson-Newman in East Tennessee.
- Forster played here at Mission Inn in the NCAA Regionals last year, where he shot 80 in the first round.
Second-round co-leader Andy Zhang shot 77 Wednesday to drop into a tie for sixth. Fellow co-leader Alex Smalley posted a 72 to sit in solo-second.
- The low Canadians are Matthew Iceton and Matthew Shubley, who are tied for 24th at 6-over. The top 40 players are conditionally exempt for the 2020 Mackenzie Tour season.
- Only five players will enter the weekend having shot even-par or better.
- Michael Cotton carded the low round of the day Thursday, shooting a third-round 68 to climb into a tie for 24th.
“Heading into this I’ve been playing really well. I played out here last Thursday and Friday in a mini tour event. It was the first time I played it. Tomorrow I’m just going to play smart, plot my way around this golf course and keep everything in front of me.” – David Sanders
“I made a hole-in-one out here last week, and with Albin (Choi) winning with Sungjae Im, maybe it feels like it’s meant to be.” – David Sanders
“This would be a great opportunity for me. To get out there and hopefully play well throughout the season and get my Korn Ferry Tour card and move up.” – David Sanders
“Pretty much the same as all week, I scratched out a (decent) day today. Par is good on most holes, I’ve just got to limit the bogeys and big numbers.” – Isaiah Salinda
“It’s kind of crazy how I ended up here. My coach was online looking for players and came across me. I just wanted to come out here and play. I knew since I was a little kid I was going to go to America and play. It was freaky how much I thought about it, considering how young I was. When I was in preschool I was saying, ‘One day I’m going to be in America playing golf.’” – Thomas Forster