2019 Korn Ferry Tour Q-School | Day 1, Stage 2 | Jordan Niebrugge

2019 Korn Ferry Tour Q-School | Day 1, Stage 2 | Jordan Niebrugge

MURRIETA, Calif. — Nearly 2,500 miles separated Mequon's Jordan Niebrugge and River Falls' Neil Johnson from the rest of the Wisconsin contingent in the second stage of Korn Ferry Tour Qualifying School, but they could almost feel the anticipation as it was starting to build in Brooksville, Fla., for O.J. Farrell and Jordan Hahn — two Q-School newcomers with recent collegiate roots in Wisconsin who were getting set to make their second-stage debuts.

Niebrugge and Johnson were there once — Niebrugge a year ago here at Bear Creek Golf Club; Johnson 10 years ago at TPC Craig Ranch in McKinney, Texas, for what was then still Stage 2 of the PGA Tour Qualifying School.

"Those guys were in high school," the 37-year-old Johnson said, only to be told Farrell and Hahn were likely just entering middle school. "Great. Thanks. And it was still into the PGA Tour. If I'd have gotten through the second stage that week, I could have finished dead last (at the final stage) and still gotten 5 to 10 starts on Web.com (Tour) — it might have been Nationwide back then."

Times have changed. So has the name of this tour (Korn Ferry signed on in mid-summer after stints as the Ben Hogan, Nike, Buy.com, Nationwide and Web.com). But one thing hasn't changed — how tough it can be.    

"Obviously, you're going to get some better players," said Niebrugge, who missed the second stage of what was then Web.com Tour Q-School in 2016 and skipped right  through it in 2017. "At this stage, everybody's good. I feel like you can't really worry about that. For me, it's just going about my business. If I play the way I can and I'm smart about what I'm doing to prepare for how I play on the course, I can get it done."

So far, so good. Niebrugge and Johnson represented the two extremes, as far as score goes, after 18 holes of the two qualifiers with Wisconsin golfers in them.

Niebrugge shot a 5-under-par 67 on lightning-fast greens at Bear Creek and was in a three-way tie for second place, one shot off the lead held by Theo Humphrey of Tequesta, Fla. He made his second eagle of the day on No. 9 to finish off a round that also included four birdies, a double-bogey and a bogey.

Johnson had five bogeys and two birdies in a 2-over 74 that left him in a tie for 36th.

The top 20 golfers plus after Friday's final round will advance to the final stage of qualifying, which is Dec. 12-15 at Orange County National in Winter Garden, Fla.

In Florida, Farrell — a former Marquette golfer — opened with a 2-under 70 (T29) and Hahn, who played at the University of Wisconsin, shot 72 (T47). Beaver Dam's Dan Woltman, another former Badger, led the Wisconsin group with a 4-under 68 (five birdies, one bogey) that left him in a tie for 13th. 

"(The) course is very very soft here a lot of mud balls in the fairways," Woltman wrote in a text to Wisconsin.golf. "Lighter wind (Tuesday) with some easy pins led to low scores."

It was a different story at Bear Creek, where the course played as difficult as Niebrugge and Johnson can remember it.

The fairways were firm and fast and a much lighter shade of green than these annual visitors are used to seeing here. The greens were so fast that the Southern California PGA, which is running the event, informed golfers that the greens would be watered overnight and mowed once, but not rolled Wednesday morning.

"It's a course where you have to think your way around it; it's tough," said Niebrugge, who has Greg Dyne — the regular caddie for Bear Creek resident and Korn Ferry Tour regular Kevin Dougherty — on the bag this week. "I got off to a great start. I hit the ball really well on the back nine, which was my front nine. I was 5-under through six and the other two holes that I parred I had 10-footers. ... I like tougher golf courses — especially with how this place is playing. You've got to think your way around it and stay below the hole."

Staying ahead of the cutline isn't a bad idea, either.

However, Johnson knows that task is a marathon, not a sprint. His 74 left him three shots outside the top 20 with 54 holes to play, a position with which the recent inductee into the Gutavus Adolphus (Minn.) Athletics Hall of Fame is quite familiar.

"Keeping your mind in it the whole week is kind of the trick to it," Johnson said, when asked if he had any advice for Farrell and Hahn on the other side of the country. "My mindset on that has changed a lot every year. A couple years ago, I felt it was almost life-or-death to get through — and it is, because you're playing for your job — but I'm so old now that it's like I want it as much as them, but it can't come down to expectations. It has to come down to how well I can execute.

"(Tuesday), it was just slightly off. But my group, we were all slightly off. I wasn't the only one who was bewildered with the greens or the chips because it felt like any time someone in our group was out of position, we walked off with bogey or worse. You weren't able to save a lot.

"Those guys (Farrell and Hahn), their first time, hopefully wherever they are in relation to the number, just take a deep breath and realize they still have three more days left."


1Theo Humphrey  Tequesta, FLF *-666 
T2Jordan Niebrugge  Jupiter, FLF *-567 
T2Connor Blick  Alamo, CAF *-567 
T2Stuart Macdonald  CanadaF-567 
T5Sebastian Crampton  Scottsdale, AZF-468 
T5Robby Ormand  Buda, TXF *-468 
T7Matt Campbell  Clifton Park, NYF *-369 
T7Jimmy Gunn  Mesa, AZF *-369 
T7Brendon Jelley  Tulsa, OKF-369 
T10Alex Kang  Las Vegas, NVF-270 
T10KK Limbhasut  Scottsdale, AZF-270 
T10Cole Madey  West Linn, ORF-270 
T10Max Marsico  Las Vegas, NVF *-270 
T10Alistair Docherty  Vancouver, WAF *-270 
T15Jared Sawada  Mililani, HIF-171 
T15John Young Kim  Walnut, CAF-171 
T15Nahum Mendoza III  Chula Vista, CAF-171 
T15Ricky Barnes  Phoenix, AZF-171 
T15Jake Greenspoon  Houston, TXF *-171 
T15Zach Wright  Phoenix, AZF *-171 
T15Patrick Grimes  Menlo Park, CAF-171 
T15Yi Keun Chang  Hacienda Heights, CAF-171 
T15Motin Yeung  Orlando, FLF *-171 
T24Daniel Summerhays  Fruit Heights, UTFE72 
T24Peter Campbell  Windermere, FLF *E72 
T24David Kim  Buena Park, CAF *E72 
T24Brandon Wu  Scarsdale, KYFE72 
T24Matt Marshall  Yamhill, ORFE72 
T29Alberto Sanchez  Nogales, AZF+173 
T29Chris Korte  Littleton, COF+173 
T29Rico Hoey  Rancho Cucamonga, CAF+173 
T29Alex Springer  Stilwell, KSF *+173 
T29Alex Chiarella  San Diego, CAF+173 
T29Daniel Miernicki  Santee, CAF+173 
T29Brent Grant  Murrieta, CAF *+173 
T36James Allenby  CanadaF *+274 
T36Jared Mactas  Woodcliff Lake, NJF *+274 
T36Neil Johnson  River Falls, WIF *+274 
T36Andre Metzger  Scottsdale, AZF+274 
T36Ryan Cole  Mount Airy, MDF *+274 
T36Colton Yates  Scottsdale, AZF *+274 
T36Ryann Ree  Redondo Beach, CAF+274 
T36Kaz Hoffman  San Rafael, CAF+274 
T36Ted Purdy  Phoenix, AZF+274 
T45Patrick Newcomb  Benton, KYF *+375 
T45Jeremy Paul  Scottsdale, AZF *+375 
T45Kelby Scharmann  Trabuco Canyon, CAF *+375 
T45Yannik Paul  Phoenix, AZF *+375 
T45Jamie Sadlowski  CanadaF *+375 
T45Justin Bryant  Kirkwood, MOF+375 
T45Gregor Main  Danville, CAF *+375 
T45Ryan Ellerbrock  Chula Vista, CAF *+375 
T45Andy Spencer (a)  Prairie Village, KSF+375 
T54Joseph Harrison  Boulder City, NVF+476 
T54Matt Picanso  Vista, CAF *+476 
T54Mitch Carlson  Las Vegas, NVF *+476 
T54Brady Calkins  Chehalis, WAF *+476 
T54Landon Lyons  Baton Rouge, LAF+476 
T54Hayden Shieh  Fremont, CAF+476 
T54Skyler Finnell  Carmel, CAF+476 
T54Corey Pereira  Cameron Park, CAF+476 
T62Blake Sattler  New Philadelphia, OHF+577 
T62Jeremy Gandon  FranceF *+577 
T62Steele DeWald  Park City, UTF *+577 
T62Nicolo Galletti  Phoenix, AZF *+577 
T66Jere Pelletier  El Paso, TXF+678 
T66Nate Yankovich  Blacklick, OHF+678 
T66Kyle Karazissis  Indian Wells, CAF *+678 
T66Parker McLachlin  Scottsdale, AZF+678 
T66David Gazzolo  Riverside, CAF *+678 
T66Bryan Hogan  Richmond, TXF *+678 
T72David Mathis  Wake Forest, NCF+779 
T72Morgan Deneen  Conway, SCF *+779 
74Tyler Torano  Chula Vista, CAF *+880 
T75Chris Crisologo  CanadaF+1183 
T75Trent Virden  Reno, NVF+1183 
77Kyle Maze  Phoenix, AZF+1385 


1Myles Creighton  Canada-8F *-864   64 
T2TJ Mitchell  St Simons Island, GA-7F *-765   65 
T2Tee-k Kelly  Wheaton, IL-7F *-765   65 
T4Spencer Levin  Charleston, SC-6F *-666   66 
T4Rasmey Kong  West Palm Beach, FL-6F *-666   66 
T4John VanDerLaan  Ponte Vedra Beach, FL-6F *-666   66 
T7Kyle Reifers  Mooresville, NC-5F-567   67 
T7John Merrick  Reston, VA-5F *-567   67 
T7David Tepe  Columbus, OH-5F *-567   67 
T7Matt Ryan  Huntersville, NC-5F-567   67 
T7Seth Fair  Pittsboro, IN-5F-567   67 
T7Piri Borja  Coral Springs, FL-5F-567   67 
T13Joseph Gunerman  Apollo Beach, FL-4F *-468   68 
T13Akshay Bhatia  Wake Forest, NC-4F *-468   68 
T13Frederick Wedel  The Woodlands, TX-4F *-468   68 
T13Ryan Siegler  Windsor, NJ-4F-468   68 
T13Mickey DeMorat  Merritt Island, FL-4F *-468   68 
T13Dan Woltman  Beaver Dam, WI-4F-468   68 
T19Garrett Osborn  Birmingham, AL-3F-369   69 
T19Derek Ernst  Prosper, TX-3F *-369   69 
T19Brad Miller  Timonium, MD-3F-369   69 
T19Mark Blakefield  Sanford, FL-3F *-369   69 
T19Travis Trace  Jacksonville, FL-3F *-369   69 
T19Peter Creighton  Kenmore, NY-3F-369   69 
T19Hunter Richardson  Clarksville, TN-3F *-369   69 
T19Matt Schall  Charlotte, NC-3F-369   69 
T19Don Leafstrand  New Smyrna Beach, FL-3F-369   69 
T19Gordon Neale  Trabuco Canyon, CA-3F-369   69 
T29Braden Thornberry  Olive Branch, MS-2F *-270   70 
T29Michael Johnson  Birmingham, AL-2F *-270   70 
T29Mark Baldwin  Mesa, AZ-2F *-270   70 
T29Richard Lee  Phoenix, AZ-2F-270   70 
T29OJ Farrell (a)  United Kingdom-2F *-270   70 
T29Matt Atkins  North Augusta, SC-2F *-270   70 
T29Mikel Martinson  Fort Worth, TX-2F-270   70 
T29David Wicks  Jacksonville Beach, FL-2F *-270   70 
T29Ben Griffin  Chapel Hill, NC-2F-270   70 
T29Conner Godsey  Jacksonville Beach, FL-2F-270   70 
T29Charlie Netzel  Western Springs, IL-2F *-270   70 
T40Kyle Mueller  Watkinsville, GA-1F-171   71 
T40Will Gordon  Davidson, NC-1F-171   71 
T40Jack Maguire  St. Petersburg, FL-1F-171   71 
T40Alexandre Rocha  Windermere, FL-1F *-171   71 
T40Ryan Sullivan  Winston-Salem, NC-1F *-171   71 
T40Donnie Trosper (a)  Canton, MI-1F-171   71 
T40Kameron Williams  Braselton, GA-1F-171   71 
T47Brian Davis  Windermere, FLEFE72   72 
T47Drew Nesbitt  CanadaEFE72   72 
T47Michael Nagy  Manistique, MIEFE72   72 
T47Kyle Kochevar  Glen Ellyn, ILEFE72   72 
T47Jordan Hahn  Spring Grove, ILEF *E72   72 
T47Trevor Cone  Charlotte, NCEF *E72   72 
T47Matt Hill  Jupiter, FLEF *E72   72 
T47Derek Oland  Plano, TXEF *E72   72 
T47Blake Morris  Hobe Sound, FLEFE72   72 
T47Eric Dietrich  Cheshire, CTEF *E72   72 
T47Stephen Stallings Jr.  Louisville, KYEF *E72   72 
T58Ryan Stachler  Milton, GA+1F+173   73 
T58Michael Cromie  Raleigh, NC+1F+173   73 
T58Dru Love  St. Simons Island, GA+1F+173   73 
T58John Coultas  Valrico, FL+1F *+173   73 
T58Broc Everett  West Des Moines, IA+1F+173   73 
T58Todd Demsey  Ponte Vedra Beach, FL+1F+173   73 
T58Sean Dale  Jacksonville, FL+1F+173   73 
T58Brandon Hoelzer  Henderson, NV+1F *+173   73 
T66Tom Nettles  McMurray, PA+2F+274   74 
T66Raul Pereda  St. Augustine, FL+2F+274   74 
T68David Lee  Houston, TX+3F *+375   75 
T68Chris Yeom  Flushing, NY+3F+375   75 
70Bo Hayes  Southside, AL+4F *+476   76 


Rob started covering the state's golf scene in 1987 at the Wisconsin State Journal in Madison. He joined Killarney Golf Media in 2015 and helped develop Wisconsin.Golf's extensive coverage of junior, high school, college, amateur and pro golf.

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