Gandon outlasts Hakula in playoff to win Qualifying Tournament
January 09, 2020
By Communications, PGATOURLA.COM
- January 09, 2020
- Jeremy Gandon, from Charpey, France, graduated from Kansas State University. (Media/PGA TOUR)
HOWEY-IN-THE-HILLS, Florida—As a senior at Kansas State, Jeremy Gandon won the 2019 Mission Inn Spring Spectacular at Mission Inn Resort and Club’s El Campeon Course. You can add another title at Mission Inn to Gandon’s resume. The native of Charpey, France, who graduated from Kansas State last spring, forced a playoff with third-round leader Toni Hakula on Friday at the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica Qualifying Tournament and then won in the sudden-death playoff to earn an exemption for the entire 2020 PGA TOUR Latinoamérica season. Along with 10 other players, Hakula will be exempt for the first half of the season, which begins in March in Mazatlan, Mexico.
While both players had birdie putts on the 72nd hole that could have ended the proceedings in regulation, they missed, leaving them tied at 10-under 278. With the sun quickly setting, the two embarked on a sudden-death extra session. In the playoff, on El Campeon’s par-4 18th, Hakula, who had just shot his worst score of the week—an even-par 72—hit his drive into the water that eventually led to a double bogey. Gandon, who picked up a caddie for his final hole of the tournament—college roommate Roland Massimino—hit his second-shot approach shot to the middle of the green and then ended the playoff by merely three-putting for bogey and the win.
About an hour earlier, Gandon stepped to No. 17 in regulation with a one-shot lead but three-putted on the par-5 from 25 feet, missing a four-footer for par, and re-opening the door for Hakula.
“I had a shaky finish with that three-putt on 17. There was a little bit of tension, and it was hard. Although I was playing for the win, and it’s still nice to win, there is not that same pressure in a regular tournament when you have money on the line or points,” said Gandon, who asked Massimino if he wouldn’t mind carrying his bag for him in the playoff. Massimino, who shot an even-par 72 good for a tie for eighth and had just signed his scorecard, obliged his buddy. After the tee shot in the playoff, the two they walked down the 18th fairway as if they were enjoying a practice round at Colbert Hills in Manhattan, Kan.
“It was a good day. What can I expect better than that?” Gandon added, his caddie standing next to him, smiling.
Gandon, a Mackenzie Tour – PGA TOUR Canada veteran, still plans to try to qualify for the Mackenzie Tour, hoping to have multiple playing options as he seeks a 2021 Korn Ferry Tour card. He’s off to a good start toward achieving that goal.
Did you know that Jeremy Gandon became the first Kansas State golfer in 67 years to win a conference tournament title when he shared the 2018 Big 12 Conference title with Oklahoma’s Grant Hirschman, Oklahoma State’s Kristoffer Ventura and Texas’ Doug Ghim. The quartet edged Texas’ Scottie Scheffler and Oklahoma State’s Matthew Wolff by two shots at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Okla.
How the Qualifying Tournament Worked
There were 99 players from the original 109 entered who finished all 72 holes this week. Below is a breakdown of the various rewards players earned this week
Exempt for the entire 2020 season
2nd through 12th (no ties)
Exempt for the first half of the 2020 season
13th through 35th (plus ties)
Conditionally exempt for the first half of the 2020 season
There was a three-players-for-one spot playoff for the 12th and final exempt spot for the first half of the season. Keith Greene, Joshua Rackley and Ben Griffin all finished at 2-under. They played the El Campeon’s first hole, with Greene winning the playoff. Rackley and Griffin will be conditionally exempt for the season’s first half.
Jeremy Gandon was the only player in the field to post four consecutive under-par rounds. After three 69s to start the tournament, he fired a final-round 71.
Last season, his first as a professional, Jeremy Gandon qualified for the Mackenzie Tour – PGA TOUR Canada with a tie for seventh at the Qualifying Tournament. He ended up playing 11 events in Canada, making six cuts and posting two top-25s. His best finish was a tie for 11th at the Osprey Valley Open in July outside Toronto.
A year ago, Toni Hakula made half of his PGA TOUR Latinoamérica cuts during his 12 starts. His lone top-10 came at the Diners Club Peru Open in mid-October, a tie for 10th.
In regulation this week, Jeremy Gandon made 22 birdies, 12 bogeys and 38 pars. He had a bogey in the playoff that was still good enough for the win.
Hunter Richardson had the round of the week with his Friday 66 that secured him a third-place finish and PGA TOUR Latinoamérica status for a second consecutive year. Richardson had a rollercoaster week, opening with a 73, shooting a second-round 67, stumbling to a 2-over 74 in the third round before his heroics Friday. His 66 earned him low-round-of-the-tournament honors.
Garrett May helped himself immensely with his final-round 67. He began the day in 30th place but moved up 22 positions, into a tie for eighth, to earn membership and exempt status through the first half of the 2020 season.
Neil Gannaway had a successful final day after struggling through the first three days. Gannaway opened 71-76-75 and was 6-over with 18 holes to play. All he did was shoot a 4-under 68 to move from a tie for 53rd into a tie for 22nd that gave him conditional status.
The players who finished tied for 33rd, the last positions for conditional status, were Spencer Reed, Ross Beal and David Lawrence. Tying for 36th and earning no status, a shot outside the cutline, were Beau Titsworth, Mathew Iceton, Benjamin Albin and Jon Weiss, Jr.
While the 1-2 finishers were from France (Jeremy Gandon) and Finland (Toni Hakula), 32 of the other 33 qualifiers are from the U.S. The only non-American besides Gandon and Hakula to earn status was Canada’s Blair Hamilton (conditional after a tie for 28th).
“I had some good ups and downs to start, and that was nice to get rid of some of the tension.” –Jeremy Gandon
“I had a nice stretch where I birdied nine, 10 and 11. That made me 2-under for the day. I knew my score and where I was.” –Jeremy Gandon
“I’m pretty excited with the fact I’ll be traveling to new countries and experiencing new cultures. I went to Argentina once. I will discover some new stuff this year.” ––Jeremy Gandon on the prospects of playing PGA TOUR Latinoamérica
“It’s a very competitive Tour. It’s the same deal as the Mackenzie Tour. You get five spots to go to the Korn Ferry Tour, so that’s a great opportunity.” –Jeremy Gandon
“Obviously I was playing for the win and trying to win, and we both laughing about it finishing 18. The last thing we wanted to do was stay here for an extra day (for a Saturday morning playoff), but we’re competitors and we both wanted to win. Congrats to Jeremy. He played great, and we enjoyed the last two days playing together, we all had a good time and I’ll see him down in Latin America.” –Toni Hakula
“It was just a horrible swing. I heel-cut it. As soon as I hit it I knew it had no chance of getting over the water.” –Toni Hakula on his tee shot on the playoff hole
Tournament Fast Fact
The winners of the U.S. Qualifying Tournaments have come from all over the world, including this week at Mission Inn and the other Qualifying Tournament in Weston, Fla.:
2020 Jeremy Gandon (France), Howey-in-the-Hills, Florida
2020 A.J. Crouch (U.S.), Weston, Florida
2019 Neal Ajubita (U.S.)
2018 MJ Maguire (U.S.)
2017 Hunter Hamrick (U.S.)
2016 Corey Conners (Canada)
2015 Willy Pumarol (Dominican Republic)
2014 Peter Campbell (Canada)
2013 Jhared Hack (U.S.)
2012 Byron Smith (U.S.)
Fourth-Round Weather Report
Warm and pleasant. High of 80. Wind ESE at 10-13 mph.