21 Advance from Korn Ferry Tour Qualifier at Dayton Valley, Nilehn Low Qualifier at 16-under, Reno’s Virden Qualifies
DAYTON — Fredrik Nilehn, Lubbock, Tex., fired a final round 9-under par 63 to finish as low qualifier at 16-under 272 for the tournament and lead a group of 21 qualifiers who advance from Stage One Korn Ferry Tour Qualifying at Dayton Valley Golf Club.
Derek Bayley shot a 7-under 65 and 14-under 274 to take solo second. Third round leader Robert Bell, Pierz, Minn. carded a final round 5-under 67 and 13-under 275 to finish solo third. Solo fourth went to Skyler Finnell, Carmel, Calif. who finished with a 2-under 70 and 9-under 279 total.
Reno’s Trent Virden carded an even par 72 for a 3-under 285 total and a five-way tie for 17th and the final qualifying position.
Mother Nature decided to give the players a break after brutal cold and windy conditions for the first three rounds and the players reacted to the relative warmth and light winds with much lower scores.
More than half of the field broke par in the 4th round as 35 players were in red numbers and 11 shot even par. The field total scoring average was 70.60 in the final round and 3.48 lower than the 3rdround. The 72-hole total scoring average was 72.58.
Nilehn, a native of Sweden who played for Texas Tech, had a near certain chance to break or tie the tournament and course record of 62. He was at 10-under for the day teeing off on the risk reward, 537-yard par 5 18th hole.
“I went for the green in two and missed and was left with a difficult shot from the rough,” he explained. “I hit it in the water and made bogey. I had no idea I was close to the record; I was just trying to finish with a very low number.”
After graduating from college, he played in Q-school last year as an amateur. He turned pro and played in nine events on the European Tour’s Challenge Tour this year.
“Absolutely the experience I gained as a pro, playing under pressure, traveling and learning all that goes with it helped prepare for Q-school,” Nilehn said. “I was able to stay patient, hit a lot of greens and capitalize on many opportunities. It was a really nice way to finish and give me confidence for the next stage.”
Bayley played in his first Korn Ferry Tour Q-school after spending time this year playing the Mackenzie PGA Canada Tour and PGA Tour LatinoAmerica.
“I really had this whole year as a pro to prepare for this Q-school,” said the 2018 Washington State grad. “The cold, windy conditions in the first three rounds may have helped me being from northern Idaho. I know what it is like and practiced in weather like this the week before coming to Dayton.
“I loved the golf course because it was in great condition and made me keep to my strategy,” he said. “My game doesn’t call for me to hit driver a lot, so the variety and strategy of the course really suited me.”
Bell played in his fifth Q-school at Dayton and did not advance to the second stage in his previous four attempts.
“The fifth time was the charm because I was totally prepared and brought a lot of confidence in my game this time,” said the former Minnesota Gopher golfer. “I had a great group today and we all played really well. It actually felt like I was trying to win a golf tournament rather than just getting through Q-school.
“I think finishing this way gets me even more for ready for the next experience,” Bell said. “I feel great about facing the next challenge.”
Virden had to wait for what seemed to be an excruciatingly long time before he could be assured of qualifying. It was actually only a few minutes and it was a special moment for the young man from Reno who is trying to make his own way as touring golf professional.
“Oh, it feels good because I had a little bit of nerves coming in” said the local favorite. “I had two bogeys in the middle of the back nine to get my attention, but not as bad as what happened yesterday (in the third round when he made double bogey and triple bogey on the back nine par 3s).
“I didn’t have my best game this week and to still get through is very satisfying,” he exuded. “It gives me a lot of confidence that I can perform well in the next stage.”
Former Nevada Wolf Pack golfer Kaleb Gorbahn, Smithers, BC, Can. shot 1-over 73 for a 16-over 304 total and tie for 67th place.
The 21 qualifiers will advance to Second Stage Korn Ferry Tour Qualifying at five sites in November.The Korn Ferry Tour Qualifying School Finals will be played at Orange County National in Winter Gardens, Fla. Dec. 12-15 where players vie for a spot on the 2020 Korn Ferry Tour.
For complete results and individual player scorecards visit the web link: https://pgatq.bluegolf.com/bluegolf/pgatq19/event/pgatq1910/contest/1/leaderboard.htm