(Lompoc, Calif.) – Salinas, California’s Matt Pinizzotto carded a 5-under 67 on Tuesday
at La Purisima Golf Course to take the first round lead at PGA TOUR Canada’s California Qualifying Tournament.
The UCLA senior, playing as an amateur this week before concluding his collegiate career later this spring, led by one over League City, Texas native Curtis Donahoe through 18 holes at the second of three qualifying tournaments for PGA TOUR Canada this season.
“I made a lot of good putts today. The greens can be bumpy in the afternoon, so you just try to hit your line, and they might not fall, but luckily for me most of them went in,” said Pinizzotto, who played in the day’s final group off the 10th tee. “I gave myself a lot of good looks and I’m happy with how I played.”
The 22-year old began the week as an alternate and was practicing with teammates in Los Angeles on Monday when he received notification he was in the field – the last player among the 132 entrants to gain a spot for the week. After making the drive up and getting in a quick practice round in the evening, Pinizzotto was ready to begin his attempt to earn status for 2015.
“I was at practice Monday morning. I was going to head up here in the afternoon and see if there was a spot in the field, and then I got the call. It’s pretty last minute, but all week I was planning on getting in,” said Pinizzotto.
One stroke off the lead with a 4-under 67 was Donahoe, who was one of just three players to break 70 on the tricky La Purisima layout. Donald Constable also managed a 3-under 69 to join Pinizzotto and Donahoe.
“I hit a lot of fairways, a lot of greens and never really put myself in a bad spot. I got some putts to drop, so it was overall just really solid,” said Donahoe. “You kind of have to be in the right place, and if you’re in the wrong place you’re going to have a long day.”
NUMBERS YOU NEED TO KNOW
61: The number of players who were under par after round one of last week’s Florida Qualifying Tournament
18: The number of players who were under par after round one this week.
0: The number of players without a bogey on Tuesday.
The medalist this week will earn exempt status on PGA TOUR Canada for 2015. Finishers 2-18 will be exempt through the first six events and subject to the re-shuffle, with the rest of the top 40 (plus ties) earning conditional status. The cutoff for the top 18 through the first round was at 1-under, with the cutoff for the top 40 at 1-over.
“It’s really about manuevering your ball around here and knowing where to hit it, and keeping yourself below the hole. There aren’t as many scoring holes out here. The par-5s I play in three shots, and you have to be good with your wedges and short irons.” – 2014 PGA TOUR Canada member Josh Stone, on what makes La Purisima Golf Course such a challenging test.
“I was working out and I pulled a couple of ribs out of place. I couldn’t even make a slow backswing. I just sat at the hotel for the last three days and got treatment. On the range this morning, I couldn’t make any swings and didn’t feel like I was going to be able to play. I waited around until I teed off and I hit a couple that hurt, but I knew I could play golf like that. It was painful all day, but I just tried to get it around. I was just trying to break 80.” – San Diego’s James Erkenbeck, who fired a 2-under 70 despite nearly withdrawing before his round due to a back injury.
- Weather: 17 degrees Celsius. Cloudy. Winds 15 km/h.
- Golf Canada Young Pro Team member Taylor Pendrith opened with a 2-under 70.
- Three-time NCAA All-American and current Texas Christian University star Julien Brun opened with a 1-under 71.
- Matt Pinizzotto, Brun and eight other amateurs are looking to follow in the footsteps of 2014 The Five member Greg Eason, who earned status at the 2014 California Qualifying Tournament, then finished his collegiate career before turning professional. Players may choose to retain their amateur status until turning professional upon joining as a member of PGA TOUR Canada.
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