Golf

Puerto Rico Open: Brandon Wu shoots 67, showing he’s ready for bright lights of PGA Tour


Brandon Wu has been the forgotten man of the vaunted Class of 2019.

While Colin Morikawa has won a major championship and Matthew Wolff and Viktor Hovland have both notched PGA Tour wins and cruised into the top 20 in the world, Brandon Wu has been toiling on the Korn Ferry Tour.

But not this week. Wu, 24, is competing at the PGA Tour’s Puerto Rico Open and grabbed the early second-round lead with a 5-under 67 on Friday at Grand Reserve Country Club in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico.

If Wu’s name sounds familiar, it should. He helped lead Stanford to the 2019 NCAA Championship, its first title in 12 years, represented the U.S. in the Walker Cup, and became the first amateur since 1967 to qualify for the U.S. and British Opens in 2019. But after failing to secure full exempt status at Korn Ferry Tour Qualifying School, Wu started last year Monday-qualifying for events on the Korn Ferry Tour.

Then COVID-19 hit, but when play resumed he proved his mettle, winning the Korn Ferry Tour Championship. He’s currently fourth on the Korn Ferry Tour money list. Under normal circumstances, he would’ve earned a promotion to the PGA Tour by now, but due to the suspension of play last year status was frozen for the current season.

Puerto Rico Open: Leaderboard

This week, opportunity knocks and he’s not the only KFT regular making some noise. Wu shot 66 on Thursday as did Taylor Pendrith and Lee Hodges, which had the three KFT stars tied for second and one stroke back of pacesetter Tommy Gainey.

“That was pretty cool to see,” Wu said. “I think, yeah, it shows that we have all the skills and talent to compete at this level. And yeah, you just got to go out and play well.”

A year ago, Hovland notched his maiden PGA Tour victory in dramatic fashion at this event. Could Wu do the same? He put on a clinic with his iron play on Friday, hitting 17 of 18 greens in blustery conditions, none better than a high fade from 240 yards to 10 feet at 18.

“That was the shot of the day that I saw him hit,” said Golf Channel’s Arron Oberholser.

“I think my irons have always kind of been the strength of my game, so that’s always been there, which is good,” Wu said. “I’m definitely hitting it really solid.”

Wu made the birdie putt to climb to 11-under 133 and break out of a tie with Aussie veteran Greg Chalmers, who birdied his last two holes for 68. A day earlier, Chalmers made four birdies in a row beginning at the second and then aced the 235-yard par-3 eighth hole on his way to shooting 66.

“I played some of the best golf I have played in a long time,” he said.





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