WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Zecheng “Marty” Dou, Jared Wolfe, and Billy Tom Sargent carded matching 7-under 63s on Thursday to claim a share of the first-round lead at the Wichita Open Supporting Wichita’s Youth. Brad Hopfinger, Taylor Dickson, Mark Baldwin, and Mark Blakefield sit one stroke off the lead at 6-under.
Beginning on the back nine, Sargent carded two birdies and seven pars on his first nine holes. After making the turn, the Korn Ferry Tour rookie caught fire with a birdie on No. 1 and an eagle on the par-5 second. After a par on the par-4 third, he tallied back-to-back birdies on Nos. 4 and 5 to reach 7-under for the round. Despite a bogey on the par-4 sixth, Sargent closed his opening round with a 15-foot birdie putt to finish at 7-under.
“I made two really good up-and-downs on 17 and 18 to save pars and made the turn and putted really well,” Sargent said. “I made good putts on Nos. 1, 2, 3 and 5 and made a good one on the last hole there. My short game felt really good going into the week, so I just stayed patient and tried to make some putts.”
Last December, Sargent finished T126 at the Korn Ferry Tour Qualifying Tournament’s Final Stage and missed out on guaranteed starts for the season. After going months without a Korn Ferry Tour start, Sargent finally got an opportunity at the Lincoln Land Championship presented by LRS. After making the cut on the number, he carded weekend rounds 66-71 to finish T35 in his Korn Ferry Tour debut.
“It was a good week,” he recalled. “It gave me a little bit of confidence going into this week knowing that I can play. My game is feeling good and I’m ready for tomorrow.”
Prior to his Tour debut, Sargent spent the majority of his summer competing in Monday qualifiers. Despite his best efforts, the 24-year-old could not catch a break. At the Monday qualifier for the PGA TOUR’s Travelers Championship, he narrowly missed a spot in the field after falling short in a playoff.
“It’s just more of a relief to finally get out here,” he said. “All summer I was doing Monday qualifiers and never had any luck. I got into a playoff at the Travelers (Championship) but didn’t get in. I’m just thankful to be out here and just having fun.”
Dou and Wolfe sit tied atop the leaderboard after Thursday’s opening round. Dou got off to a fast start with a birdie and eagle on his opening two holes. After playing his next seven holes at even-par, he carded back-to-birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 to reach 5-under. Despite a bogey on the par-3 12th, the 23-year-old rallied with three birdies over his final five holes to claim a share of the lead.
“I played really solid, I had a hot start with the birdie and eagle,” Dou said. “I made a couple bogeys out there and with three bogeys I shot 7-under so, I hit a lot of good shots coming in. I’ve been playing my long irons and driver really well and that’s how I kept it in play and kept making birdies.”
Wolfe, who is making his third start in Wichita this week, tallied nine birdies against two bogeys during Thursday’s round. Earlier this season, he earned his first Korn Ferry Tour title at The Bahamas Great Abaco Classic at Baha Mar.
Since the Tour’s return to golf, Wolfe has missed only two cuts in 11 starts. The 32-year-old entered the week ranked 15th in The 25 and in search of his second win this season.
“I’d say my game is good,” Wolfe said after the round. “It’s been good, even in Evansville (Korn Ferry Tour Championship) when I missed the cut I played really well. I’ve been close, so hopefully it’s going to pay off this week.”
Second-round tee times will run from 7:20 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Friday.
- Thursday’s weather: Mostly sunny, with a high of 83. Wind S/SW at 8-14 mph with gusts up to 16 mph.
- This week’s purse is $600,000 with $108,000 going to the champion. The champion will also receive 500 Korn Ferry Tour points.
- Billy Tom Sargent’s 7-under 63 was good for his lowest round on the Korn Ferry Tour.
- Sargent is making his second Korn Ferry Tour start this week. He looks to join David Kocher (El Bosque Mexico Championship by INNOVA) and Brandon Wu (Korn Ferry Tour Championship presented by United Leasing & Finance) as rookie winners on Tour this season.
- This marks the first time that Jared Wolfe has held at least a share of the 18-hole lead on the Korn Ferry Tour.
- Wolfe’s nine birdies were good for the most during Thursday’s opening round.
- Dou is in search of the third Korn Ferry Tour title of his career this week. He previously won the 2017 KC Golf Classic and 2019 Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.
- This marks the first time Dou has led/co-led after 18-holes on the Korn Ferry Tour.
- Wichita native Luke Gannon sits T130 after an opening-round 72. Gannon earned a spot in the field through Monday qualifying earlier this week.
- Taylor Pendrith (T8) sits three strokes off the lead at 5-under. Last week, Pendrith finished T23 at the U.S. Open at Winged Foot Golf Club.
- The combined 2020-21 Korn Ferry Tour schedule will conclude with 25 PGA TOUR cards awarded at the 2021 WinCo Foods Portland Open presented by KraftHeinz, with an additional 25 cards awarded at the conclusion of the 2021 Korn Ferry Tour Finals.
- The par-4 sixth hole (495 yards) played as the hardest hole on Thursday with a scoring average of 4.314.
- The par-5 14th hole (501 yards) played as the easiest hole on Thursday with a scoring average of 4.410.