PGA TOUR Canada Alumni shine during first Korn Ferry Tour stop of the season
January 19, 2023
By Jay Fawler , PGA TOUR Canada
- January 19, 2023
- Wil Bateman plays his shot on the 3rd tee during the fourth round of The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic. (Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
Wil Bateman near the top of a leaderboard. No surprise there.
The Edmonton-native and 2022 PGA TOUR Canada Fortinet Cup champion shot a bogey-free 67 in the final round of the Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay, tying for fourth. It’s the first of 26 stops on the 2023 Korn Ferry Tour schedule.
New this year on the Korn Ferry Tour is a season-long points race, where players will battle all year for 30 PGA TOUR cards handed out at the end of the season. The final four events of the year will see players compete for increased purses ($1.5 million) and points allocations, while field sizes will be reduced similar to the PGA TOUR’s FedExCup Playoffs.
Here’s how the PGA TOUR Canada alumni fared in the first Korn Ferry Tour event of the year.
It’s hard to have a better year than Bateman did in 2022. He started his PGA TOUR Canada year off with a thrilling playoff victory at the ATB Classic presented by Volvo Edmonton, becoming the first player in PGA TOUR Canada history to win an event in his hometown. The fact that he accomplished it in front of his friends, family, and dad on Father’s Day was icing on the cake.
Additionally, he was the only player to make the cut at every tournament, won for the second time at the season-finale Fortinet Cup Championship and was crowned the winner of the season-long Fortinet Cup points race, picking up PGA TOUR Canada Player of the Year in the process. His 2022 success and accolades earned additional 2023 performance benefits, including full membership on the Korn Ferry Tour and a playing spot in the 2023 RBC Canadian Open.
Bateman picked up right where he left off to start the Korn Ferry Tour season in the Bahamas. Highlighted by a bogey-free final round 67, Bateman finished at 11-under in his first start as a Korn Ferry Tour member.
Carter JenkinsCarter Jenkins of the United States tees off during the third round of The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay Golf Club. (Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
At PGA TOUR Canada’s halfway mark last season, Carter Jenkins had missed three consecutive cuts and was a combined 15-over in his last five rounds. However, his season turned around the following week in Winnipeg, with a tie for fifth at the CentrePort Canada RailPark Manitoba Open, his 10th career top-10 finish in 50 PGA TOUR Canada starts.
Jenkins didn’t miss a cut the rest of the way, finishing 40th on the Fortinet Cup Points List.
Just like his 2022 season on PGA TOUR Canada, Jenkins, in the Bahamas, rallied from a slow start to finish strong.
After an opening-round 76, he followed that with a 65 that included seven birdies and a hole-in-one, on the 13th hole. Jenkins, who earned eight guaranteed Korn Ferry Tour starts via a top-40 finish at the Korn Ferry Tour Qualifying Tournament final stage, tied for 14th to turn in his best career Korn Ferry Tour performance in his 15th career start.
Joe HighsmithJoe Highsmith plays his shot on the third tee during the fourth round of The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay Golf Club. (Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
Playing in one of the last groups out in the second round and with daylight fading fast, Joe Highsmith was two shots off the cutline with two holes to play. Unfortunately, officials suspended play due to darkness, and he had to sleep on the task at hand.
Highsmith returned early Tuesday morning and birdied his 17th and 18th holes (his eighth and ninth of the round, respectively) to make the cut. After a short break, he began his third round with five birdies on the front nine, finishing with a 7-under 65 that vaulted him 48 spots up the leaderboard. The Pepperdine and PGA TOUR University alum, who had five top eight top-10 PGA TOUR Canada finishes last season, posted a tie for 31st in his first start as a Korn Ferry Tour member.
Other notable PGA TOUR Canada alumni finishes:
Jake Knapp returns to the Korn Ferry Tour
While many might consider him a veteran, 28-year-old Jake Knapp insists there’s a lot left in his tank.
Knapp has been here before, earning Korn Ferry Tour status via PGA TOUR Canada in 2019, where he won twice to finish third on what was then the Order of Merit. Injuries plagued his first stop at the next level the following year, though he still managed two top-25s and 16 made cuts in 36 Korn Ferry Tour starts across 2020 and 2021.
He took advantage of his second stint back in Canada in 2022, picking up his third career PGA TOUR Canada victory, at the CRMC Championship presented by Gertens, along with a runner-up finish in Victoria and a tie for third in Quebec to close the season second on the Fortinet Cup Points List. That earned him the coveted Korn Ferry Tour promotion once again.
Knapp will be making his 2023 Korn Ferry Tour debut this week at the Bahamas Great Abaco Classic at the Abaco Club.