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Isaiah Salinda pulls away for eight-stroke win at The Panama Championship

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Daily Wrap Up


    Written by Korn Ferry @KornFerryTour

    PANAMA CITY – The Korn Ferry Tour produced its youngest winner in history last week in The Bahamas, and this week it delivered one of the most decisive victories in its history, as 26-year-old Isaiah Salinda rolled to an eight-stroke win at The Panama Championship, tying the fourth-largest margin of victory in Korn Ferry Tour history.

    Salinda, who shared the 54-hole lead with Canadian Wil Bateman, closed in 5-under 65 and totaled 12-under 268 for the tournament. Playing alongside Bateman in the final pairing, Salinda was the only player in the final five twosomes who shot even-par or better, and he was one of only four players who carded a 65 or better Sunday at Panamá Golf Club.

    Salinda’s eight-stroke win marked the largest margin of victory at a Korn Ferry Tour event since Sam Ryder’s eight-stroke win at the 2017 Pinnacle Bank Championship. It also shattered the tournament record for margin of victory (five strokes) established by Jimmy Walker at the inaugural playing of The Panama Championship in 2004.

    And Salinda did it all at a venue that finished with one of the five highest scoring averages relative to par in 16 of the last 19 Korn Ferry Tour seasons, including five seasons (2004, 2008, 2009, 2019, 2023) with the highest scoring average relative to par.

    Largest Margins of Victory in Korn Ferry Tour History

    12 strokesSteve Wheatcroft2011 Melwood Price George’s County Open
    11 strokesChris Smith1997 Omaha Classic
    11 strokesMarc Leishman2008 WNB Classic
    8 strokesChris Nallen2004 Gila River Golf Classic
    8 strokesCasey Wittenberg2012 Chitimacha Louisiana Open
    8 strokesSam Ryder2017 Pinnacle Bank Championship
    8 strokesIsaiah Salinda2024 The Panamá Championship
    7 strokesEight TimesLast: 2016 Ellie Mae Classic (Stephan Jaeger)

    At 12-under par, Salinda posted the lowest 72-hole score at The Panama Championship since 2017, when Andrew Putnam defeated Chris Baker in a sudden-death playoff after the duo finished regulation at 13-under 267. Even more impressive, in the last four iterations of the event leading into this year, the only player who finished at least 10-under par was Davis Riley in 2020.

    “The golf course is amazing. I'm very excited to win here in Panama,” Salinda said. “I think the only time I looked at the leaderboard was on No. 9 or 10… it was still pretty stacked. After No. 12 I knew I had a pretty good cushion and didn't look at any leaderboards after that.”

    The tournament-winning swing came at the par-4 11th, one of two holes that were reworked this past year as part of a multi-year renovation project at Panamá Golf Club.

    Holding a one-stroke lead over his playing partner, Salinda drained a 50-footer for birdie as Bateman made a triple bogey. Salinda put the tournament out of reach for practically everyone a hole later, making eagle at the par-5 12th for a six-stroke lead on the field and a seven-stroke lead over Bateman.

    Aside from the triple bogey, Bateman made 17 pars Sunday and earned a share of second place with rookie Keenan Huskey, who carded the low round of the day and tied the low round of the week with a bogey-free 6-under 64, and left-hander Trent Phillips.

    Even with the massive lead, Salinda stayed in the moment until the final hole.

    “After I hit the tee shot on No. 18, I was like, ‘Alright, I think we’re good,’” Salinda said. “Even though I had a bigger cushion than I thought, I was just trying to hit that tee shot in the fairway and then hit it on the green and two-putt. But (I) stacked it in there kind of on accident and made birdie.”

    Going low at difficult venues is nothing new for Salinda.

    A native of San Francisco, California, Salinda shot a tournament- and competitive-course-record 9-under 62 on the Lake Course at The Olympic Club in the third round of the 2018 Pacific Coast Amateur. The round propelled him to victory over a contingent of future PGA TOUR members such as runner-up Austin Eckroat, third-place Brandon Wu (his teammate at Stanford), Collin Morikawa at T5, and Davis Riley at T7.

    That same year, Salinda reached the semifinals of the 2018 U.S. Amateur Championship at Pebble Beach Golf Links.

    Salinda turned professional in 2019 after four seasons at Stanford University, where he helped the Cardinal win the 2019 NCAA Championship for their first team national title since 2007. Individually, he tied for sixth with Morikawa that year, and he went 3-0 in match play in helping Stanford win the title, even defeating Texas’ Cole Hammer in the final.

    Things did not come as easily at the professional level.

    Salinda held Korn Ferry Tour membership for the first time in 2023, and his conditional status left him on the outside of the season’s first three events. As the third-to-last player into the 156-player field at the astara Golf Championship presented by Mastercard, the fourth event of the season, Salinda finished T13 in Bogota, Colombia and earned himself a bundle of future starts.

    However, Salinda converted just one of them into a top-10 — a T9 at the AdventHealth Championship — and eventually finished No. 80 on the 2023 Korn Ferry Tour Points List. Although Salinda retained Korn Ferry Tour membership, he faced the prospect of playing another season with conditional status.

    Less than a month after his 2023 season ended on the Korn Ferry Tour, Salinda Monday qualified into the Shriners Children’s Open on the PGA TOUR and finished T7. The top 10 arrived at the perfect time, as Salinda carried the momentum into Second Stage of PGA TOUR Q-School presented by Korn Ferry a little over a month later.

    After Salinda breezed through his Second Stage site in Valencia, California, he headed to Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida for Final Stage of PGA TOUR Q-School presented by Korn Ferry, where the top five finishers and ties earned PGA TOUR membership. Salinda entered the final round just two strokes out of the top five.

    Even though he earned guaranteed starts for the 2024 Korn Ferry Tour season, a 2-over 72 in the final round saw him miss the top five threshold by five strokes, sending Salinda home dejected.

    “It's hard not to get down on yourself based on the results because I felt I was putting in the work and just wasn't getting the results I wanted,” Salinda said. “Going into this year I knew that I was just going to try and have a fresh start, some more positive attitude every round, every tournament.”

    His new mindset was put to the test early. Salinda was forced to miss the first two of his 12 guaranteed starts for 2024 after he had his appendix removed just before the new year.

    Two goals remained the same through his speedy recovery: he would open his season in Panamá, and he would win a tournament this season.

    If the track record of past champions at this event is any indication, Salinda’s list of goals – both for this season and beyond – may need some adjustments. The last seven winners of The Panamá Championship earned a PGA TOUR card at season’s end. Three of those seven – Davis Riley (2020), Andrew Putnam (2017), and Ryan Armour (2016) – became PGA TOUR winners.

    For now, though, it’s two goals down, and who knows how many more to go.

    “Still a lot of golf to play,” Salinda said. “And a lot to play for.”

    Final-Round Notes

    • First-time member Keenan Huskey (T2/-4), the third-to-last player in the field (No. 141 on the Priority Ranking for the 144-player field), closes with a bogey-free 6-under 64 – tying the low round of the week – to convert his first career made cut into a runner-up finish in his 2024 season debut and third career Korn Ferry Tour start (MC/2019 BMW Charity Pro-Am presented by TD SYNNEX; MC/2021 UNC Health Championship presented by STITCH)
      • Huskey finished T54 at Final Stage of 2023 PGA TOUR Q-School presented by Korn Ferry, missing guaranteed starts for the 2024 Korn Ferry Tour season by one stroke and leaving him with conditional status
    • Trent Phillips (T2/-4), who finished No. 58 on the 2023 Korn Ferry Tour Points List as a rookie last season, birdies his final three holes to card a final-round 4-under 66 and record his second top-10 in his 24th career start (P2/2023 UNC Health Championship presented by STITCH)
    • After holding a share of the 54-hole lead, Wil Bateman (T2/-4), who finished No. 68 on the 2023 Korn Ferry Tour Points List as a rookie last season, makes 17 pars and a triple bogey at the par-4 11th for 3-over 73; he posts a career-high finish, as well as his first top-10 since posting two T4s in the first three events of 2023 (The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic, The Panamá Championship)
    • Korn Ferry Tour winner Ricky Castillo (T5/-3) records his first top-10 since winning his professional and Korn Ferry Tour debut at the 2023 Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Kansas Wichita Open Benefitting KU Wichita Pediatrics; he finished No. 53 on the 2023 Korn Ferry Tour Points List after joining the Tour as a conditional member in June via a No. 9 finish in the 2023 PGA TOUR University Ranking
    • Jacob Solomon (T5/-3), who finished No. 66 on the 2023 Korn Ferry Tour Points List as a rookie last season, plays his final 11 holes without a bogey and in 3-under par to record a career-high finish (previous career-high finish in 27 starts: 6th/2023 Magnit Championship)
    • Zach Bauchou (T5/-3), who finished No. 82 on the 2023 Korn Ferry Tour Points List for conditional membership this season, bounces back from 3-over 38 on front nine with bogey-free 2-under 33 on the back nine, including a birdie at the par-4 18th; he has three top-10s in his last 10 Korn Ferry Tour starts (T4/2023 Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Kansas Wichita Open; T5/2023 Pinnacle Bank Championship)
    • Rookie Trey Winstead (T5/-3) closes with three consecutive bogeys en route to 2-over 72 but posts his first top-25 in his fourth career start on the Korn Ferry Tour
    • Rookie Austin Hitt (T11/-2) finishes T11 for the third time in as many starts this season (The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay, The Bahamas Great Abaco Classic at The Abaco Club, The Panamá Championship)
    • Sponsor exemption Isidro Benitez (T11/-2) records his first top-25 in his fourth career start on the Korn Ferry Tour to earn a spot in next week’s Astara Golf Championship presented by Mastercard; he turned professional in 2017, has played the last five seasons on PGA TOUR Latinoamérica (2018-23) with one victory, and had one made cut in three previous Korn Ferry Tour starts (T29/2020 El Bosque Mexico Championship by INNOVA)
    • This marks the first time since 2020 there has not been in a playoff in the first three Korn Ferry Tour events of a calendar year
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