Jose Toledo fires 61 for early lead at Web.com Tour Q-School final stage

Enrique Berardi/PGA Tour

Jose Toledo fires 61 for early lead at Web.com Tour Q-School final stage

Professional

Jose Toledo fires 61 for early lead at Web.com Tour Q-School final stage

Jose Toledo has an early cushion as he attempts to secure a full 2018 Web.com Tour card.

The Guatemalan fired an 11-under 61 in Thursday’s opening round of final stage at Web.com Tour Q-School to move four ahead of the pack with 54 holes to play.

Toledo was flawless Thursday in Chandler, Ariz., at Whirlwind Golf Club’s Devil’s Claw layout, birdieing Nos. 3 and 6 before an eagle at the par-4 eighth boosted him to an opening 4-under 32. He then got scorching hot on the back nine, birdieing five straight holes from Nos. 12-16.

He broke the streak with an eagle at the par-5 17th, then closed with a par for a final-nine 29.

Toledo, 31, won on PGA Tour Latinoamerica in 2017 on his way to a fourth-place finish on the Order of Merit. The top-five money list finish earned him conditional status on the Web.com Tour in 2018. But a win at Q-School final stage would make him fully exempt for the 2018 Web.com Tour season.

A finish between 2nd and 10th (and ties) at final stage earns a player fully exempt status for the first 12 events of 2018, while finishers 11-45 (and ties) are fully exempt for the first eight events. The remainder of the final stage field is granted conditional status for 2018.

Toledo is looking for his first full season on the Web.com Tour after a 10-event campaign in 2012 and a 13-event season in 2014. He has just one top-25 finish in those 23 starts.

His early chasers include a quartet in a tie for second at 7 under. Lee McCoy and Michael Arnaud (who both played Whirlwind’s the Cattail layout) are among that group as are Kent Bulle and Stuart MacDonald (Devil’s Claw).

Wyndham Clark, the top-ranked player in college golf in 2016-17, sits solo sixth after opening in 6-under 66 at Devil’s Claw. Cameron Champ, the Texas A&M phenom turned pro, posted 67 at Devil’s Claw to put himself T-7 alongside 2016 U.S. Amateur champion Curtis Luck (the Cattail).

Former college stars Sam Burns (LSU) and Sean Crocker (USC) are tied for 11th at 4 under. Burns played Devil’s Claw, while Crocker took on the Cattail.

Other notable scores after Round 1 include Jordan Niebrugge (T-22 after 3-under 69 at Devil’s Claw), Maverick McNealy (T-52 after 1-under 71 at the Cattail), John Oda (T-52 after 1-under 71 at the Cattail), Max Homa (T-52 after 1-under 71 at Devil’s Claw), Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano (T-52 after 1-under 71 at Devil’s Claw), Robby Shelton (T-70 after Even-par 72 at the Cattail), Rico Hoey (T-91 after 1-over 73 at Devil’s Claw), Kevin Hall (T-109 after 3-over 75 at Devil’s Claw), John Merrick (T-109 after 3-over 75 at the Cattail) and top-ranked amateur Joaquin Niemann (T-135 after 6-over 78 at the Cattail).

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