DOTHAN, Alabama — Mark Goetz and Riley Bell, a professional and an amateur, have set themselves apart through 36 holes at the third PGA TOUR Canada Qualifying Tournament at RTJ Golf Trail at Highland Oaks.
In Wednesday’s second round, Sacramento State’s Bell, one of the first-round leaders, joined Goetz at 8-under, the duo sitting atop the leaderboard a shot ahead of Patrick Moriarty, Drew Mathers and J.D. Hughes. Goetz shot his second consecutive 68, while Bell finished with a 2-under 70, the native of Yuba City, California, going to the last hole at 10-under before a double bogey derailed him. An errant drive and the resulting penalty shot dropped Bell into the tie with Goetz.
“I told my playing partners I hit a really solid 3-wood. It felt like I hit [the ball] off the side of the face, but it came off like I topped it. Obviously, it was a poor outcome even though I felt committed over the shot,” Bell observed. He laid up for his third shot on the par-4, his ball landing in a divot. On his fourth shot from 103 yards, he hit his wedge to six feet but missed the bogey putt.
“It was a poor outcome even though I felt committed over the shot,” he said of his errant drive. “I was not as comfortable as I was [Tuesday] on the golf course yet I still managed to post a good score.”
A year ago, Goetz, the former West Virginia University player who competed as an amateur, played the Qualifying Tournament here, earning conditional PGA TOUR Canada status with his tie-for-20th finish. That didn’t result in any 2022 tournament starts, however. Goetz shot his 68 despite a triple bogey-7 at the 14th hole, his fifth hole of the day. He made up for that miscue with nine birdies, a tournament-best for one round.
Hughes is one of two players—along with Goetz—to shoot two sub-70 rounds to begin this tournament. He followed his opening 68 with a 69, a solid showing especially after he began his day with bogeys on the first two holes. Moriarty made the turn at 1-under then had an interesting back nine, that included three birdies, three pars and three bogeys that still left him tied for third.
“My back nine was really up and down. I did a lot of good but had a couple of bad breaks,” Moriarty said. “It’s what it is. It’s golf.”
Mathers posted his 2-under 70 to get to 7-under despite recording a double bogey-6 at the par-4 third, his 12th hole of the day. He added three birdies, at the fifth, ninth and the 15th.
Three other players are two strokes behind. Joseph Dendy, Ian Martin and Will Chandler are all at 6-under.
“We’re at the halfway point with a lot of golf yet. It’s just going to take some heart, it’s going to take some grit and I know I’m ready for it,” Bell added.
Did you know Will Chandler is playing in his third PGA TOUR-affiliated Tour Qualifying Tournament? All three of his attempts have taken place at RTJ Golf Trail at Highland Oaks. This is Chandler’s first foray playing as a professional. In 2021, competing for a Forme Tour card while still an amateur, Chandler opened with a 4-under 68 then closed with a 74-72-76 finish to tie for 36th. Last year, in PGA TOUR Canada’s return to golf, Chandler tied for 46th, again failing to qualify.
How the Tournament Works
PGA TOUR Canada along with PGA TOUR Latinoamérica are international PGA TOUR-sanctioned tours that provide access to the Korn Ferry Tour and are part of the pathway to the PGA TOUR. Since its inception in 2013, PGA TOUR Canada has held 32 Qualifying Tournaments across the U.S. and Canada. This event is the second of six 2023 PGA TOUR Canada Qualifiers scheduled in advance of the 2023 season. Each qualifier is a 72-hole, no-cut event, with playoffs, if necessary, for the medalist position and for the 10th and final position available.
One-hundred-thirty players started the tournament Tuesday. Below is a breakdown of the various PGA TOUR Canada membership statuses available this week.
|Medalist||Exempt membership for the 2023 season|
|2nd through 10th (no ties)
|Exempt through the reshuffle, which will occur approximately halfway through the season|
|11th through 30th (plus ties)||Conditional membership|
- Players in this week’s field come from eight countries or territories: Australia, Canada, Colombia, England, France, Germany, Mexico and the United States.
- The stroke average in the second round was slightly better than the first round. On Tuesday, players averaged 74.054 strokes, while the second-round average came in at 73.829 on the par-72 RTJ Golf Trail at Highland Oaks.
- When the day began, Kyle Sterbinsky was tied for 46th after opening with an even-par 72. He shaved five strokes off that score Wednesday and moved up 37 leaderboard spots. Sterbinsky, a Wake Forest alum, was 1-over through six holes and then proceeded to make six birdies over his final 12 holes to shoot his 67.
- Ian Martin opened with six consecutive pars, but they were anything but routine. “I think my opening stretch set me up for success. I missed about a four-footer on the first hole for birdie, then I almost hit my tee shot on the second out of bounds but made a nice up and down for par. At three, I hooked my drive into the water and got up and down from 130 yards for par,” he said. Martin made his first birdie of the day, at No. 7, and ended up bogey-free for the round, making four consecutive birdies, starting at No. 9, and then posting his final birdie of the day, at No. 16.
- With a 6-under 66 Wednesday, Ian Martin is tied for sixth at the halfway point. It’s a remarkable position for him to be in considering he was 4-over through six holes of his opening round. Martin battled back to an even-par finish Tuesday, with birdies on four of his final five holes.
- Cody Proveaux only had four pars on his way to a second-round, 3-under 69, and finishing well under-par for the day didn’t look likely after he bogeyed three of his first six holes and stood at 3-over. He then reeled off four consecutive birdies, starting at No. 7, added four more birdies against two bogeys, turning in one of the more interesting scorecards of the day. Proveaux, an assistant golf coach at Middle Tennessee State since 2020, played collegiately at Clemson, appearing in two NCAA Championships with the Tigers. Twelve years ago, Proveaux was the AJGA Rolex Player of the Year.
- Greg Edwards followed his 5-under 67 with a 1-over 73 Wednesday, dropping him into a tie for 14th with 36 holes remaining. Edwards is taking time away from his day job as an assistant pro at historic East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, home of the PGA TOUR’s season-ending TOUR Championship. His first attempt at PGA TOUR Canada Q-School came a year ago, but he didn’t earn membership. His only PGA TOUR-affiliated Tour appearance in an official event came at the 2022 Visit Knoxville Open on the Korn Ferry Tour. He missed the cut.
- The top Canadian of the seven left eight competing in this week’s field is Jake Bryson, of Dunrobin, Ontario via Utah Valley University. Bryson opened with 4-under 76 but lost 30 scoreboard positions with his second-round 76. He’s tied for 38th.
- Will Chandler is playing his third PGA TOUR-affiliated Tour Qualifying Tournament—all of them taking place at RTJ Golf Trail at Highland Oaks. This is his first foray playing as a professional. In 2021, competing for a Forme Tour card while still an amateur and living in Athens, Chandler opened with a 4-under 68 then closed with a 74-72-76 finish to tie for 36th. Last year, in PGA TOUR Canada’s return to golf, Chandler tied for 46th, again failing to qualify.
- Amateur Michael Shears from the University of Georgia opened with a 4-over 76 but made a nice comeback on day two, firing a 2-under 70 to move up 27 spots on the leaderboard, into a tie for 60th. Caddying for him this week is former PGA TOUR Canada player Lee McCoy, also a Georgia Bulldog. McCoy finished sixth on the 2017 Order of Merit, winning the season-opening Freedom 55 Financial Open and posting 35 under-par scores in 44 rounds. He finished the year a cumulative 82-under. McCoy was a full-time Korn Ferry Tour member in 2018 and 2019 before injuries curtailed his career.
There were 26 amateurs playing this week, with 24 still competing After 36 holes, five are under-par. Here are their results and where they stand:
|T1||Riley Bell (U.S.)||136 (-8)|
|T18||Aymeric Laussot (France)||141 (-3)|
|T29||James Swash (U.S.)||142 (-2)|
|T34||Connor Howe (U.S.)||143 (-1)|
|T34||Sean Wilcox (U.S.)||143 (-1)|
|T38||Blain Turner (U.S.)||144 (even)|
|T52||Andrew O’Leary (U.S.)||145 (+1)|
|T60||Joey Ranieri (U.S.)||146 (+2)|
|T60||John Bush (U.S.)||146 (+2)|
|T60||Diego Garcia Hernandez (Mexico)||146 (+2)|
|T60||Michael Shears (U.S.)||146 (+2)|
|T66||Mason Nome (U.S.)||147 (+3)|
|T75||Christian Fanfelle (U.S.)||148 (+4)|
|T78||Will Holmgren (U.S.)||149 (+5)|
|T78||Brent Hamm (U.S.)||149 (+5)|
|T85||James Hunneke (U.S.)||150 (+6)|
|T85||Carter Prince (U.S.)||150 (+8)|
|T90||Patrick Healy (U.S.)||151 (+7)|
|T90||Max Charles (Australia)||151 (+7)|
|T95||Andrew Gianaros (U.S.)||152 (+8)|
|T103||Tyler Gray (U.S.)||154 (+10)|
|T108||Will Thomson (U.S.)||155 (+11)|
|T111||Kade Luebke||156 (+12)|
|T122||Ash Hakim (U.S.)||161 (+17)|
|WD||Colin Buckborough (Canada)|
|DQ||Kyle Leeds (U.S.)|
Rubs of the Green
“Halfway point, 36 holes through, I’m thrilled with where I’m at. It’s my first Q-School, so I’m super proud of myself. But I know there is a long way to go. I have to keep hitting good, committed golf shots and see where it takes me after 72 holes. I’m used to college tournaments where you wake up at 5 o’clock no matter where you stand. You have to catch those plane flights. I don’t really have a strategy. I know I’m going to get my eight hours (of sleep), eat a good breakfast. I’ll be ready to come to the golf course when it’s time. I’ll be itching.” –Riley Bell
“I played solid. I’ve hit the ball really well both days. I just played a little smarter today. I haven’t quite made a ton of putts, but I’ve putted OK. Tee to green I’ve been really good. I’m hitting my irons really good and hitting my (yardage) numbers. That’s what you have to do on this course with the undulations in these greens. I am treating this like any other event. I’ve been playing pretty good on mini-tours. We’re still playing golf, so I go through my routine, doing the same thing all day until I finish on 18.” –Will Chandler
“I really just plotted myself around the course the rest of the day. There were a couple of times where I had some stressful pars, but I really played nicely.” –Ian Martin
Second-Round Weather: Sunny all day, with a high of 78. Wind variable at 8-10 mph in the morning, switching to E at 5-7 in the afternoon.