Riley Wheeldon from Comox secured his Canadian Tour card on Friday at the spring qualifying school at Morningstar Golf Club in Parksville.
The 20-year-old Wheeldon started the four-round event with a sparkling 6-under 66 but then scores of 74 and 78 had him in a battle for one of the five cards. He shot a 1-over 73 Friday to finish tied for fourth spot with Brandon Harkins from the United States.
“I actually had a very good second day but I finished with a triple bogey and I lost a bit of my confidence,’’ said Wheeldon, who plays at Crown Isle in Courtenay. “My next 27 holes were very sketchy but I pulled it together on the back nine by going 2-under. I was getting stressed out about possibly not getting my card and I just had to settle down and focus.’’
Earlier this year, Wheeldon tried unsuccessfully to get his card at the fall qualifying school in Palm Springs.
“With the card, it gives me a place to play this summer. The Canadian Tour is the highest level in Canada and hopefully it is just a stepping stone to moving up the pro ladder.’’
Wheeldon now has his sights set on the Times Colonist Island Savings Open which starts Thursday at Uplands Golf Club in Vcitoria.
Andrew Kelly from Australian was the low medallist with a four-round total of 287, one shot ahead of Phil Telliard from the United States. Jason Scrivener from Australia was third at 289, while Wheeldon and Harkins were at 291.
Those five all earned exempt status on the Canadian Tour for the remainder of the 2011 season.
Wheeldon’s great opening round included eight birdies and two bogies to lead the 39-player field and give him a 4-shot lead over Kelly. Wheeldon got off to a good start with a birdie on the par-4 first hole, then had three more birdies and a bogey on the front nine to make the turn at 3-under 33. He got on a roll on the back nine birdying holes 10, 11, 12, and 13 before making one final bogey on 15.
In Wednesday’s second round, a disastrous 18th hole cut Wheeldon’s lead to one stroke after he hit a triple bogey on the final hole and finished with a round of 2-over 74.
“I actually hit it better today then yesterday but couldn’t really get anything to fall on the greens.”
Wheeldon’s tee shot on the par-4 18th went to the right into an area of long grass, and the ball could not be found. His provisional ball was in the long grass to the left and his only option was to chip out to the 150-yard marker. His fifth shot found the green, then he two-putted to end with a 7.
Despite the bad finish the former member of the University of Louisville’s golf program appeared relaxed at the end of his round.
“I have to put that hole behind me and just focus on tomorrow, I’m going to stay aggressive I always play better that way,” Wheeldon said. His third round score of 78 set up a battle to earn his Canadian Tour card in the fourth and final round on Friday, and he was equal to the task.