SAVANNAH, Ga. – Temperatures dropped into the 1940s and what started as a light drizzle turned into an all-day shower, but leader of the first round Jonathan Brightwell was unfazed at The Landings Club’s Magnolia Course, again playing harder than Marshwood, the guest course for the final stage of the Korn Ferry Tour Qualifying Tournament. Brightwell mapped a 2-under 68 on Friday and maintained a one-stroke lead on the field.
A graduate of the University of North Carolina-Greensboro playing his fifth and final collegiate season (awarded to NCAA student athletes due to the COVID-19 pandemic) at the University of Oklahoma, Brightwell played his first 10 holes at 1-over par. Even as conditions deteriorated, Brightwell gave himself birdie looks on Magnolia’s front nine, using Nos. 2, 5 and 8.
“I hit it really close at number 8,” Brightwell said. “It looks weird green. The pin looked like it was in the water. I got it there to two or three feet. It was huge to get a good look when it started to get cold and it rained.”
A resident of Edmond, Oklahoma, Brightwell received a snappy text message after Thursday’s opening round. Brightwell was quite surprised that the message came from Matthew Wolff. The two played numerous friendlies at Edmond’s Oak Tree Country Club along with several other professionals ranging from PGA TOUR players to fellow Final Stage competitors, but Brightwell thought Wolff was up to the World Wide Technology Championship in Mayakoba this week.
“I didn’t know what to do,” Brightwell said, noting that Wolff was leading the PGA TOUR event after a 10-under 61. “He’s been busy these weeks, but he reached out and I sent him something back. We were pumped.”
The 13 lowest scores until Friday were recorded on Marshwood. In Thursday’s opening round, 20 of the 23 lowest scores came from Marshwood. The lowest score on Magnolia Friday afternoon was a 2-under 68 recorded by six players.
The biggest reason for the score difference? Extreme slopes on the green complexes of Magnolia, which have been redesigned this year, present a far greater challenge than the more traditional contours of Marshwood.
“They look very similar from the tee, and then Magnolia’s greens are unreal,” Brightwell said. “They are tough but very fair. You just don’t see much of it. It’s just two putts, up and in. They are very similar (courses) but offer a very different test when you are out of position or (on the) wrong side of the green.”
The final stage of the Korn Ferry Tour Qualifying Tournament determines which players will earn guaranteed starts for the 2022 Korn Ferry Tour season.
• The medal winner (and tie) will receive fully exempt status for 2022
• Finishers 2-10 (and a tie) are guaranteed entry to the first 12 events of the 2022 Korn Ferry Tour season
• Finishers 11-40 (and tie) are guaranteed entry to the first eight events of the 2022 Korn Ferry Tour season
• The rest of the field gets conditional status for 2022
Through two laps, the cutoff for guaranteed starts is a 13-way T37 on an equal footing.
Third round tee times are 9-11:12 a.m. ET on the first and 10th tees of both lanes. PGA TOUR LIVE will have live streaming coverage for Sunday’s final round via the NBCA Sports App and GolfChannel.com.