Hong pulls away to claim title at The Wigwam
LITCHFIELD PARK, Arizona—When the final round of PGA TOUR Canada’s fourth Qualifying Tournament of the year got underway, amateur Jason Hong was tied for third with two others, two strokes behind 54-hole pacesetter Will Grimmer. Hong wasted little time cutting into his deficit and ultimately pulled away down the stretch to win the tournament at The Wigwam, defeating fellow amateur Chase Sienkiewicz and Blake Tomlinson by three strokes, with Grimmer four back.
Hong will be eligible to play in every PGA TOUR Canada Fortinet Cup tournament once the season gets underway in June, while Sienkiewicz, Tomlinson and Grimmer, along with Chris Francoeur, Andrew Paisley, Andrew Garner, Jack Trent, Matt Liringis and Alex Herrmann will be eligible for all tournaments in the season’s first half. Herrmann defeated Luis Gagne and Henry Lee by making an eagle on the first extra hole (No. 1) to secure the final spot. Besides Gagne and Lee, an additional 19 players earned PGA TOUR Canada membership and conditional status.
Hong was clearly the best player on a week where different weather seemed to show up every day. The Lipscomb University graduate student played flawless golf, with no bogeys on his opening nine—the back nine at The Wigwam—for a 3-under 33. On No. 1 after making the turn, he made an eagle on the par-5 then added birdies on his 13th and 14th holes to take a three-shot lead with three holes remaining. He pared in for the final winning margin.
On his eagle, Hong hit a driver and then stuffed his wedge-shot approach to three feet. “That was probably one of the best shots of the day,” he noted. It also gave him the lead he would not give up.
On March 5, the Lipscomb golf team finished eighth at the University of Michigan-hosted Desert Mountain Collegiate in nearby Scottsdale. That week, Hong and teammate Gregor McKenzie led the Bisons, tying for 23rd. More importantly, perhaps, at least for Hong, was Bison Coach Will Brewer’s willingness to take Hong to The Wigwam and let him have a look around at the course where he would play his Qualifying Tournament.
“We came here last month as a team, and I checked out the course. As soon as I got here, I realized I felt pretty comfortable here. I’m a good driver of the ball and a good wedge player, There’s a lot of that on this course, so I think I took advantage of that.”
About his summer plans assured, Hong thought for a moment and then fought back tears. “Everything is going to be new. It’s crazy to think I’m going to become a professional golfer,” he said. “I’ve been close to giving up the game a few times. To know I have a job this summer, I’m very psyched about that.”