Jones hangs on for win at final PGA TOUR Canada qualifying tournament
COURTENAY, British Columbia—It was a popular win as Jimmy Jones held it together just enough to walk away with medalist honors at Crown Isle Resort, shooting an even-par round of 72 Friday to capture the top spot at the sixth and final 2023 PGA TOUR Canada Qualifying Tournament.
Jones—who lists Lake Cowichan, British Columbia, as home and is the son of the late LPGA Canadian great Dawn Coe-Jones—had a strong following all week, just two hours from his mom’s hometown.
It was just as an attractive runner-up finish for Max Sear, who hails from the provincial capital of Victoria, where the opening tournament—the Royal Beach Victoria Open—begins play this coming week as PGA TOUR Canada’s ninth and final season gets underway.
Sear, a member of Royal Colwood in Victoria, had family and friends on hand to witness his play as he tied for second with U.S. player Carr Vernon, a stroke behind Jones’ leading pace.
Jones and Sear started the day in the top two spots, respectively—with Jones holding a two-stroke lead—and managed to hang on for the gallery that followed. The winner had rounds of 72-63-68-72, finishing at 13-under, while Sear suffered a double bogey on his final hole for a 1-under 71 to fall one shot short of forcing a playoff.
Vernon birdied his last two holes to catch Sear with his round of 69.
With the win, Jones earns full playing privileges for the year, eligible for every open tournament. It was an emotion triumph, he admitted.
“The nerves were real. Exciting nerves, too. This win is going to bring me to tears,” he said, his eyes starting to mist up. “This one is for Mom. She was up there, cheering me on, and it means a lot to me, especially with all the support here.
“It feels, like we said [Thursday], like a home game. You want to perform for everybody in the crowd. But there were a lot of emotions and thoughts out there. Everyone knows golf, though, you have to keep it simple, and that was the goal.”
It was a cautious start as Jones had to hit a provisional drive on the first tee, but he luckily found the errant first tee shot. He had three birdies and three bogeys on the day and gutted things out, which the fans appreciated at tournament’s end.
“I signed a bunch of autographs today, more than I ever have, which is pretty cool and makes you feel good. It’s so special to have my boy Mark (Valliere, his caddie) with me and my godmother, Kelly, was here watching,” said Jones.
“It was Family Part Two up here, and it’s something I will always wear on my sleeve, and I hope to come back here as many times as I can,” said the Tampa-born Jones, who won with the tattoo DCJ (his mom’s initials) and a Maple Leaf freshly stamped on his right wrist.
Jones was also glad he pulled off the win and had Sear there right behind to make it a Vancouver Island affair.
“We had a fun day. We were chatting a lot, and I’ve known Carr, too, from playing college, so it was a good grouping,” Jones said.
As for Sear, it was a bit of a struggle all day, but his putter saved him just enough, until the final hole when he missed an eight-footer for bogey that would have forced a playoff with Jones.
“I didn’t have my best stuff. I struggled all day, hitting wipey cuts again. I just managed it with a good couple of up and downs before I completely puked on myself on the last hole,” he said. “I slipped on the drive (on 18); chipped it out; hit another bad shot; bad chip and missed the putt and missed by one.
“It is what it is. I’d rather do it now than when there’s a purse on the line, I guess,” Sear said, still glad to have played in the final grouping. “I had never played with Jimmy before, so it was nice to connect. Any time you can feel like it’s a home game and play well makes it that much sweeter.”
Several others made their charges to earn exemptions through the first half of the season, including Canadian amateur Matthew Anderson, who just turned pro, finishing fourth after his final-round 66 propelled him 11 spots.
Tyson Dinsmore’s 67 left him fifth, while Kyle Vance made the biggest leap, with his 8-under 64 that left him tied for sixth with fellow U.S. player Daniel Wetterich and Canadian Raoul Ménard, who both shot 69s.
A four-player playoff featuring Canadians A.J. Ewart and Jake Lane and U.S. players Hagen Fell and Dylan Healey produced the last two exemption spots for the first half of the season with Lane making a par on the third extra hole to advance and Healey making birdie on the fifth playoff hole to secure the final spot.
Ewart and Fell, along with 18 others, picked up conditional playing status.