WICHITA, Kan. – After two missed cuts in his last two starts on the Web.com Tour, rookie Aaron Wise is on top of the leaderboard at the Air Capital Classic supporting Wichita’s Youth with a sizzling 8-under-par 62, his lowest roundon Tour this season. The 20-year-old from Cape Town, South Africa eagled the par-4 15th, at Crestview Country Club, to separate himself from the field on Thursday morning and leads fellow first-year Tour pro Seth Reeves by two shots.
“It was a good reward for a great shot,” said Wise, who spun a wedge into the hole from 95 yards out. “It’s just kind of something you say is pretty cool and kind of react to it, then try and move on and go play the last three holes.”
Play was suspended for the day at 6:49 p.m. local time with the restart planned for 7:30 a.m. Wise pared the last three holes to complete his lowest round on Tour this season. The former Oregon Duck attacked Crestview CC using driver on nearly every hole. While he only hit five of 14 fairways, his aggressive nature led to a flurry of birdies, including three in a row to start the round.
“A few of the courses we play don’t allow us to hit as many drivers and this one does,” said Wise. “I’m playing aggressively off the tee and I think that’s giving me an advantage coming into the greens. So, I’m giving myself more chances for birdie.”
With such a decorated amateur career, the former NCAA individual champion was expected to do big things this year. After earning his Web.com Tour card through Mackenzie Tour – PGA TOUR Canada, where he finished No. 4 on the Order of Merit, Wise has had a mixed bag in his first seven starts.
“After Panama, I decided to work on some things with my coach,” Wise explained. “Obviously, you’re going to go through growing pains with that and I did. I’m okay with that. I knew it would come around and it slowly has. Today was a good day to build off that and gain some confidence.”
Wise arrived in Wichita No. 35 on the money list and has the top 25 on his mind. He doesn’t believe there is a big learning curve this season, even though this is his first year on Tour. In 2016, Wise recorded five top-10s in seven starts on the Mackenzie Tour including a victory at the Syncrude Oil Country Championship presented by AECON.
“A lot of that happened in Canada,” said Wise, about adjusting to playing golf for a living. “I learned a lot about traveling and everything that goes into being a professional golfer. A lot of my learning curve was there and now it’s just about moving up (to the PGA TOUR). It’s just about being comfortable, trusting yourself and realizing you can compete out here.”
Like Wise, Reeves competed on the Mackenzie Tour in 2016. He has missed three cuts in a row after a tied for third at the Corales Puntacana Resort & Spa Championship. Reeves has made plenty of birdies but costly mistakes have been the main reason he hasn’t played on the weekend since early May. Despite the recent drought, the 26-year-old from Atlanta, Georgia is hoping to follow in the footsteps of former Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket teammate Ollie Schniederjans, who won the 27th edition of the Air Capital Classic in a playoff over J.J. Spaun and amateur Colin Morikawa.
“I hadn’t played to good the last two weeks but I’ve been close,” said Reeves, who is No. 42 on the money list. “Ollie won here last year and played well. We have similar games and there are some holes where I can bust a driver so that’s pretty fun.”
* Thursday weather: Scattered showers and thunderstorms. High: 94, Low: 77, Winds: ESE 8-14 mph.
* This week’s purse is $625,000, with $112,500 going to the champion.
* The first-round was suspended at 6:49 pm local time with a restart for 7:30 am on Tuesday morning.
* The tournament course is playing to a par-70 this week. Officials are playing the 6th hole (495 yards) and the 18th
hole (487 yards) as par-4s, but both normally are played further back and par-5s for the members.
* Wise earned Web.com Tour status by finishing No. 4 on the Mackenzie Tour Order of Merit last season. In seven starts, he recorded five top-10s including one victory, at the Syncrude Oil Country Championship presented by AECON.
* In 2016, as an amateur, Wise captured victory at the Australian Master of the Amateurs in January, then the NCAA Men’s Individual title, also helping the Oregon Ducks to their first ever team championship by going 3-0 in match play. He became the first player since Kevin Chappell (UCLA) in 2008 to win both the Individual and Team NCAA Championships.
* Seth Reeves played 12 events on the Mackenzie Tour in 2016 and recorded four top-25s. In 11 appearances on Tour this season, Reeves has made five cuts and recorded three top-25s.
* While attending Georgia Tech, Reeves played alongside Anders Albertson, Richy Werenski and Ollie Schniederjans. He was a two-time All-American and recorded three individual wins and 10 top 10s in 39 career events at Tech.
* Justin Hueber carded a 66 in the Monday qualifier at Willowbend Golf Club to secure a spot in the field this week. Hueber, who has conditional status, has made two cuts in four starts and is outside the top 100 on the money list.
* Seth Fair withdrew during the round with a wrist injury.