Jonathan Brightwell continues to lead amid frigid, rainy conditions at Final Stage
November 05, 2021
By Zach Dirlam, PGATOUR.COM
- November 05, 2021
- Jonathan Brightwell leads by one in Savannah. (Andrew Wevers/PGA TOUR)
SAVANNAH, Ga. – Temperatures dipped into the 40s and what began as a light drizzle turned into a day-long rain shower, but first-round leader Jonathan Brightwell was unfazed on The Landings Club’s Magnolia Course – which once again played tougher than Marshwood, the host course for the Korn Ferry Tour Qualifying Tournament’s Final Stage. Brightwell carded a 2-under 68 Friday and maintained a one-stroke lead over the field.
A University of North Carolina-Greensboro graduate who played his fifth and final collegiate season (awarded to NCAA student-athletes because of the COVID-19 pandemic) at University of Oklahoma, Brightwell played his first 10 holes at 1-over par. Even as conditions worsened, Brightwell gave himself birdie looks on Magnolia’s front nine, capitalizing on Nos. 2, 5, and 8.
“I hit it really close on No. 8,” Brightwell said. “It’s a weird-looking green. The pin looked like it was in the water. I got it in there to two or three feet. Having a good look coming in when it started getting cold and rainy was huge.”
An Edmond, Oklahoma, resident, Brightwell received a spirited text message following Thursday’s opening round. Brightwell was rather surprised the message came from Matthew Wolff. The two played numerous friendly matches at Edmond’s Oak Tree Country Club, along with several other professionals ranging from PGA TOUR players to fellow Final Stage competitors, but Brightwell figured Wolff was preoccupied with this week’s World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba.
“I didn’t know what to do,” Brightwell said, noting Wolff led the PGA TOUR event following a 10-under 61. “He’s busy during these weeks, but he reached out and I sent him something back. We were pumped.”
The 13 lowest scores to par Friday were recorded on Marshwood. Thursday’s opening round saw 20 of the 23 lowest scores to par come from Marshwood. The lowest score on Magnolia Friday afternoon was a 2-under 68 recorded by six players.
The biggest reason for the scoring differential? Extreme slopes on Magnolia’s green complexes, which were redesigned this year, present a far greater challenge than Marshwood’s more traditional contours.
“They’re very similar off the tee, and then Magnolia’s greens are unreal,” Brightwell said. “They’re hard but very fair. You just don’t see much like it. It’s just two-putt, get it up and in. They’re very similar (courses) but present a completely different test if you’re either out of position or (on the) wrong side of the green.”
The Korn Ferry Tour Qualifying Tournament’s Final Stage determines which players earn guaranteed starts for the 2022 Korn Ferry Tour season.
• The medalist (and ties) receives fully exempt status for 2022
• Finishers 2-10 (and ties) are guaranteed entry into the first 12 events of the 2022 Korn Ferry Tour season
• Finishers 11-40 (and ties) are guaranteed entry into the first eight events of the 2022 Korn Ferry Tour season
• The remainder of the field receives conditional status for 2022
Through two rounds, the cutoff for guaranteed starts is a 13-way T37 at even par.
Third-round tee times will run from 9-11:12 a.m. ET off the first and 10th tees of both courses. PGA TOUR LIVE will have live streaming coverage for Sunday’s final round via the NBCA Sports App and GolfChannel.com.