GOLF

Open Qualifier Norman Xiong Wins Wichita Open to Benefit KU Wichita Pediatrics, Earns Korn Ferry Tour Membership with Blowout Victory

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Xiong finished five strokes clear of Kevin Roy, who settled for second in solo even as he equaled the previous 72-hole tournament scoring record of 21-under 259 set by Aaron Wise in 2017. While Xiong and Wise weren’t teammates at the University of Oregon (they were two years apart), both turned pro after their sophomore seasons and won the Wichita Open by a tournament-record five. strokes.

Xiong’s first PGA TOUR-sanctioned victory made him the 25th Open Qualifier in Korn Ferry Tour history to win the tournament, and the first since Rick Lamb’s victory as an Open Qualifier at the 2016 LECOM Health Challenge. Xiong also joined five-time PGA TOUR winner Ben Crane (2000) and two-time Korn Ferry Tour winner Sebastian Cappelen (2014) as open qualifiers who won the Wichita Open.

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“I really don’t know how I feel just because I didn’t really expect to be here,” Xiong said. “I just knew that I couldn’t really let go today. I think that shows how difficult it is here, and I think you can only recognize what a battle it is for all these players here. It’s a really tough sport.

Xiong started the final round at 19 under par and aimed to reach 22 under. After a birdie-eagle-birdie streak from numbers 2-4, Xiong needed a new goal, so he turned to the lowest round of the day, a 10-under 60 by Justin Suh that beat the 18-hole tournament score. record and Crestview Country Club course record.

Xiong played the next 10 holes at 3-under par with birdies at numbers 6, 7, 10 and 14, and a bogey at the par-4 11th. An eagle on the par-4 16th hole brought Xiong down to 9 under for the day and brought him within range of Suh’s record lap. Xiong’s tee shot at the par-4 18th went out of bounds and led to a double bogey.

“I just tried my best to get there and missed the last hole, kind of choked it out, but got the win,” Xiong said. “A lot of things went my way. I had a lot of good breaks, a lot of loose putts. That’s kind of what it takes here to win, to make it your week and have it all go your way.

Originally from Tamuning, Guam, Xiong moved to San Diego, California with her mother, Jing, and uncle, James Xiong, when she was 6 years old. Xiong was a dedicated participant at San Diego’s First Tee and became a decorated junior golfer, earning second-team AJGA All-America honors in 2014 and 2015, followed by a first-team laurel in 2016.

Xiong traveled to Oregon, where he found immediate success. Along with being the 2017 National Rookie of the Year, Xiong and fellow PGA TOUR teammate Wyndham Clark helped Oregon win the 2017 Pac-12 Championship. defeated Doc Redman in the 2017 Western Amateur Championship title match, joining a roster of past champions headlined by Tiger Woods. Xiong also played on the 2017 Walker Cup and Arnold Palmer Cup teams, alongside Sam Burns, Collin Morikawa, Scottie Scheffler and Will Zalatoris.

The following season, Xiong won six times individually en route to two of three National Player of the Year honors, the 2018 Jack Nicklaus and Fred Haskins Awards.

After the 2018 NCAA Championships, Xiong, 19 at the time, turned pro and made five PGA TOUR starts via sponsor exemptions, but missed the cut each time. It seemed like the tough part was an aberration, as Xiong shared the 36-hole lead at the 2018 Sanderson Farms Championship and ultimately finished T26. About a month later, Xiong secured her Korn Ferry Tour membership for the 2019 season with a second-place finish at her qualifying tournament finals.

It all came crashing down shortly after.

As a rookie on the Korn Ferry Tour, Xiong racked up 15 missed cuts in 21 starts and retired to the Korn Ferry Tour qualifying tournament. In the second stage, Xiong finished T69 among the 72 players who completed all four rounds and were no longer members. On Sunday night, Xiong called it the low point of his past three years.

From the start of 2020 to last week, Xiong has made seven PGA TOUR-sanctioned starts. Xiong Monday qualified for two PGA TOUR and Korn Ferry Tour events, missing the cut in all four starts, and briefly held PGA TOUR Canada status, where he recorded a top 10 finish in three starts the year. last.

In an interview with Golf.com last yearXiong felt he could write a book about everything that has changed since turning professional as a college superstar.

“I guess that wraps up Chapter 1,” Xiong said after his win on Sunday. “I feel so different from when I was here last year, a few years ago.”

The next chapter for Xiong begins with the Live and Work in Maine Open. The victory not only placed Xiong 34th on the Korn Ferry Tour regular season points list, but it also earned him full bye status for the remainder of the season. Shortly after the win, Xiong committed to the next week’s pitch.

A PGA TOUR card has gone from virtually out of sight to a priority for 23-year-old Norman Xiong.

The 2022 Korn Ferry Tour season continues Thursday with the first round of the Open Live and Work in Maine at Falmouth Country Club.

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