Past U.S. Walker Cup team members Brandon Wu (above) and Braden Thornberry were among the 114 players who advanced through the second stage of Korn Ferry Tour Q-School in five qualifiers across the country, four of which concluded last Friday. The qualifying players now have reached the final stage, assuring them a Korn Ferry Tour card. They now will compete to enhance their status next month at Orange County National Golf Center & Lodge in Orlando, Fla.
Wu, a recent Stanford graduate who qualified for this year’s U.S. Open and Open Championship, shot 17-under 271 at the Murrieta, Calif., qualifier to share co-medalist honors with former Oklahoma State standout Jordan Niebrugge. Among other notables to advance were former All-American Theo Humphrey and PGA Tour veteran Daniel Summerhays. PGA Tour veterans Ricky Barnes, Parker McLachlin and Ted Purdy all failed to advance.
In Brooksville, Fla., John VanDerLaan blew away the field by shooting 23-under 265 to win by eight shots. The former Division II player of the year was joined by past NCAA champion Broc Everett, who came in second, and Thornberry, who tied for fifth. Thornberry, a former University of Mississippi player who won the NCAA Championship and reached No. 1 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, struggled in his first year as a pro but will get another opportunity on the Korn Ferry Tour in 2020.
Among those who failed to advance in Brooksville were Akshay Bhatia and Will Gordon. Bhatia, a 17-year-old member of the 2019 U.S. Walker Cup team who skipped college to play professionally, now will have to look for other playing opportunities. Gordon, who played at Vanderbilt, made eight cuts in nine starts on the Mackenzie Tour-Canada last season and has full status on the circuit.
The Dothan, Ala., qualifier had fewer notable names but still produced a couple of intriguing storylines. Tommy “Two Gloves” Gainey, the 44-year-old PGA Tour veteran, finished tied for ninth to advance. Meanwhile, former University of Oregon standout Norman Xiong opened with 81 and failed to break par in all four rounds. Xiong has missed 23 cuts in 32 professional starts.
At the Plantation, Fla., qualifier, Curtis Thompson earned medalist honors on the strength of his 8-under 63 in the third round. His brother, Nicholas Thompson, also got through by finishing in a tie for 13th. Curtis and Nicholas are the brothers of LPGA standout Lexi Thompson.
And in a bizarre twist, Luis Gagne shot 70 in the opening round in Plantation but left the scoring area without signing his scorecard, disqualifying him from the event. Gagne shared low-amateur honors at the 2018 U.S. Open.
PGA Tour veteran Martin Piller and Chase Koepka, the brother of Brooks Koepka, were among those who advanced through the McKinney, Texas, qualifier that concluded Nov. 1.
Staff and Wire Reports