Highland Oaks ready for Mackenzie Tour qualifier
March 09, 2020
By Laury Livsey, PGATOUR.COM
- Sam Love's best finish on the Korn Ferry Tour was a T25 in 2017 at the Simmons Bank Open for The Snedeker Foundation. (Mackenzie Tour)
DOTHAN, Ala. — For the first time in history, the Mackenzie Tour is playing a Qualifying Tournament in Alabama, with action beginning Tuesday at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail’s Highland Oaks Course. This will be the third of seven qualifiers in 2020 and second in as many weeks as the Tour is coming off of the event at Howey-in-the-Hills, Fla., at Mission Inn Resort and Club. NCAA individual champion Isaiah Salinda won the tournament.
The Korn Ferry Tour has played early stage qualifiers at Highland Oaks in each of the last three years, and the Mackenzie Tour arrives this week at a course with PGA TOUR-affiliated tournament history. In 1999 and 2000, Highland Oaks hosted the Korn Ferry Tour Championship, the Tour’s season-ending event. In 1999, Bob Heintz and Marco Dawson finished regulation tied at 5-under, with Heintz winning in a playoff. In 2000, Spike McRoy overcame a 2-over 74 in the first round to fire scores of 64-65-69 over his final 54 holes to coast to a five-shot win over Briny Baird.
The Robert Trent Jones-designed Highland Oaks features three nine-hole courses—the Highland, the Marshwood and the Magnolia. In this week’s 72-hole event that offers a year-long exemption to the medalist, players will play the Highland and Marshwood Courses (Highland as the front nine). The par-72 composite course measures 7,704 yards (Highland, par-36 and 3,892 yards; and Marshwood, par-36, at 3,812 yards).
The first tee time Tuesday is 7:20 a.m., with the threesome of Roland Massimino, Brendan Peel and Alex Scott playing off No. 1, and the duo of Ryan Elmore and Eric Ansett starting on No. 10. There are 119 players in the field. Here are five to watch:
A.J. Crouch (United States)
Crouch was the medalist at the PGA TOUR Latinoamerica qualifier in January in Weston, Fla. He is exempt for the entire season and is coming off a missed cut at the PGA TOUR Latinoamerica season-opener last week in Mazatlan, Mexico. The University of Florida product won the 2014 Florida Gulf Coast University Classic while playing for the Gators.
Luke Moser (Canada)
He is one of four Canadians in the field this week, having played in Mackenzie Tour qualifiers in both 2018 and 2019. He earned conditional status both years but only played in one official Mackenzie Tour event—the 2018 Mackenzie Investments Open (finished 71st).
Shintaro Ban (United States)
Ban is trying to qualify for the Mackenzie Tour for a second consecutive year. In 2019, he qualified at TPC San Antonio but had a disappointing regular season, finishing 123rd on the Order of Merit. The former University of Nevada-Las Vegas player, who reached as high as No. 9 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, won four tournaments during his final two years of college.
Jeremy Gandon (France)
Gandon is another PGA TOUR Latinoamerica Qualifying Tournament medalist playing this week. Gandon was the medalist at the Mission Inn Resort and Club in January, defeating Finland’s Toni Hakula in a one-hole playoff. Gandon, who finished 64th on the 2019 Mackenzie Tour Order of Merit, made his PGA TOUR Latinoamerica debut, shooting four under-par rounds last week at the Estrella del Mar Open in Mazatlan to tie for 35th.
Sam Love (United States)
Love is familiar with this course, winning the Korn Ferry Tour first-stage qualifier in 2017 by two strokes over Andrew Dorn and Doc Redman. The former University of Alabama-Birmingham player and Birmingham native has played three full Korn Ferry Tour seasons (2015, 2017 and 2019). During Love’s winning effort at Highland Oaks, he fired rounds of 69-66-67-68.