ADVERTISEMENT

Open qualifier Norman Xiong wins Wichita Open to benefit KU Wichita Pediatrics, wins Korn Ferry Tour membership with landslide victory

ADVERTISEMENT

Xiong finished five shots ahead of Kevin Roy, who settled for solo second even as he tied the previous 72-hole tournament scoring record of 21-under-par 259 set by Aaron Wise in 2017. While Xiong and Wise did not they were teammates at the University of Oregon (two years apart), both turning pro after their sophomore seasons and winning the Wichita Open by five strokes, a tournament record.

Xiong’s first PGA TOUR-sanctioned win made him the 25th open qualifier in Korn Ferry Tour history to win the tournament, and the first since Rick Lamb’s win as an open qualifier at the 2016 LECOM Health Challenge. Xiong also joined five-time PGA TOUR winner Ben Crane (2000) and two-time Korn Ferry Tour winner Sebastian Cappelen (2014) as open qualifiers who won the Wichita Open.

“I really don’t know how I feel just because I really didn’t expect to be here,” Xiong said. “I just knew that I really couldn’t put it down today. I think that just shows how tough it is here, and I think you can only recognize what a battle it is for all these players here. It’s a very tough sport.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Xiong started the final round at 19-under and was aiming for 22-under. After a birdie-eagle-birdie stretch of numbers 2-4, Xiong needed a new goal, so he turned his attention to the low round of the day, a 10-under 60 from Justin Suh that broke the score of 18 hole tournament. Crestview Country Club course registration and registration.

Xiong played the next 10 holes at 3-under with birdies at numbers 6, 7, 10 and 14, and a bogey on the par-4 11th hole. An eagle pocketed on the par-4 16th hole took Xiong to 9-under. par the day and put him within range of Suh’s record round. Xiong’s tee shot on the par 4 18th hole went out of bounds and caused a double bogey.

“I did my best to get there and I came up short on the last hole, I choked a little bit, but I got the win,” Xiong said. “A lot of things just went my way. I got a lot of good breaks, a lot of dropped putts. It’s a bit of what it takes here to win, make it your week and make it your way.”

Originally from Tamuning, Guam, Xiong moved to San Diego, California with his mother, Jing, and uncle, James Xiong, at age 6. Xiong was a dedicated participant in San Diego’s First Tee and became a decorated junior golfer, earning AJGA All-America Second Team honors in 2014 and 2015, followed by a first-team laurel in 2016.

Xiong headed to Oregon, where he enjoyed immediate success. In addition to being the 2017 National Rookie of the Year, Xiong and teammate Wyndham Clark, now a member of the PGA TOUR, helped Oregon win the 2017 Pac-12 Championship. Later that summer, Xiong defeated Doc Redman in the fight for the 2017 Western Amateur Championship title, joining a list of previous champions headed by Tiger Woods. Xiong also played on the 2017 Walker Cup and Arnold Palmer Cup teams, competing alongside Sam Burns, Collin Morikawa, Scottie Scheffler and Will Zalatoris.

The following season, Xiong won six times individually en route to two of the three national player of the year awards, the 2018 Jack Nicklaus and Fred Haskins Awards.

Following the 2018 NCAA Championships, Xiong, 19 at the time, turned pro and made five starts on the PGA TOUR via sponsor waivers, but missed the cut each time. It seemed like the tough stretch was an aberration, as Xiong shared the 36-hole lead at the 2018 Sanderson Farms Championship, eventually finishing T26. About a month later, Xiong earned Korn Ferry Tour membership for the 2019 season with a second-place finish in the final stage of their Qualifying Tournament.

Everything spiraled down shortly after.

As a rookie on the Korn Ferry Tour, Xiong racked up 15 missed cuts in 21 starts and fell back to the Korn Ferry Tour Qualifying Tournament. In the Second Stage, Xiong finished T69 among the 72 players who finished all four rounds and were no longer a member. On Sunday night, Xiong referred to it as the lowest point in his past three years.

From the start of 2020 through last week, Xiong made seven PGA TOUR-sanctioned starts. Xiong Monday has qualified for two PGA TOUR and Korn Ferry Tour events, missed the cut in all four starts and was briefly on PGA TOUR Canada, where he posted a top-10 finish in three starts last year.

In an interview with Golf.com last yearXiong felt like he could write a book about everything that has changed since turning pro as a college superstar.

“I guess this wraps up Chapter 1,” Xiong said after his victory on Sunday. “I feel very different than when I was here last year, a few years ago.”

The next chapter for Xiong begins with the Live and Work in Maine Open. The win not only placed Xiong 34th on the Korn Ferry Tour regular season points list, but also earned him full exempt status for the rest of the season. Shortly after the victory, Xiong committed to the next week’s camp.

A PGA TOUR card went from virtually invisible to all-important for 23-year-old Norman Xiong.

The 2022 season of the Korn Ferry Tour continues on Thursday with the first round of the Live and Work in Maine Open at Falmouth Country Club.

sniloans