By Brian Keogh
Jonathan Yates. Photo by Golffile
Jonathan Yates got off to a solid start with a two-under 70 in the opening round of the Mackenzie Tour-PGA TOUR Canada Q-School in Florida.
Teeing it up in the second of six qualifiers on US soil for this summer’s Canadian Tour, the Naas professional opened (27) with nine straight pars at Mission Inn Club and Resort’s El Campeón course in Howey-in-the-Hills, near Orlando in Florida.
He then dropped a shot at the par-five 10th but pulled out the stops by picking up three shots in his last five holes to end the day tied for 12th, three shots behind Costa Rica’s Luis Gagne, Mexico’s Isidro Benitez, Cristian DiMarco and amateur Zachary Taylor.
After getting back to level par with a birdie four at the 14th, he was thrilled to make a birdie two at the 15th before picking up another shot at the par-five 17th.
“It was a very solid round on a very tough course,” said a satisfied Yates, who must finish in the top 25 and ties. “That two at the 15th was really nice and probably the highlight of the day. Overall, I’d say patience paid off nicely today.”
The winner of the 72-hole event will be fully exempt for 2021 while those finishing from second to sixth are exempt through the reshuffle, which will occur approximately halfway through the season.
The players ranked seventh through 25th (plus ties) will be awarded conditional membership.
Leaders Gagne, Benitez, DiMarco and Taylor shot five-under-par 67’s to lead by one stroke from amateur Christopher Williard.