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Reiter rallies late for come-from-behind victory

Charlie Reiter Charlie Reiter - PGA Tour Canada on Twitter

SAN JACINTO, California—Trailing by a shot with one hole to play Friday at Soboba Springs Golf Course, Charlie Reiter knew he needed to make something happen on the par-5 if he had any dreams of winning the PGA TOUR Canada Qualifying Tournament. Reiter put his approach shot on the green in two and then two-putted for birdie, and when Kyle Karazissis lipped out his four-foot par attempt that would have forced a playoff, Reiter walked away at 15-under for the week and medalist honors. He beat Karazissis by a stroke, giving him access to every open PGA TOUR Canada tournament this summer.

Tyler Falk and Devon Bling (tied for third), Austen Christiansen (fifth), Jordan Costello (sixth) and Nick Cunningham (seventh) all locked up playing opportunities in PGA TOUR Canada’s first half of the season, while amateur Kento Yamawaki, Ryann Ree and Jonathan Walters had to endure a five-players-for three-spots playoff to secure their playing cards and first-half exempt status. George Markham and Perry Cohen didn’t advance in the playoff, and they will be conditionally exempt this season, along with 19 others.

Reiter was still trying to process the last hour of his round minutes after he came out victorious. He smiled knowing he was able to finish atop the leaderboard despite posting three consecutive bogeys in the middle of his round. “I lost focus for a little bit,” he said of that stretch “But I did everything I could coming down the stretch, hitting it close, and it worked out.”

After cutting Karazissis’ four-shot lead in half, with three consecutive birdies early in his round, starting at No. 4, Reiter bogeyed Nos. 8, 9 and 10 and was back trailing by four with eight holes to play. Reiter birdied No. 13 to cut the deficit to three, and a Karazissis bogey at the 14th left him only two ahead of Reiter.

On the par-3 16th, Reiter hit his tee shot to 28 feet, leaving him the farthest from the cup. Putting first, he rolled in the birdie to get to 2-under for the day. “That was the longest putt I made all week,” he said with a smile.

Karazissis had a chance to give himself a little breathing room, but his ensuing, eight-foot, right-to-left birdie putt hit the edge of the cup and lipped out, his lead only one with a hole to play.

“I knew after 17 I was one (stroke) back, and I knew I needed a good drive on 18. I put it in the middle of the fairway and hit an unbelievable second shot in there,” Reiter said of his approach shot to 18 feet. Karazissis didn’t have a good look at the green after his drive missed the fairway, and he couldn’t go for the green in two, instead laying up. Reiter missed his eagle putt, and had a four-footer coming back, while Karazissis’ birdie putt went four feet past. Reiter made his, and Karazissis couldn’t answer.

“It was good, steady golf, and fortunately it worked out,” Reiter said of his day. “I didn’t really know what I was doing (this summer), but now I have a full schedule.”