Aaron Wise capped off a great week in Wichita with a final-round 2-under-par 68 to win the 28th annual Air Capital Classic supporting Wichita’s Youth. The 20-year-old from Cape Town finished the week 21-under-par 259, five shots ahead of Beau Hossler, who had earned Special Temporary Membership for the remainder of the season by eclipsing the money earned by No. 100 on the previous year’s money list.
Wise earned $112,500 for his effort around Crestview Country Club and secured his PGA TOUR card for the 2017-18 season. He became the fourth youngest winner in Tour history and the youngest Air Capital Classic champion.
“It’s a lot of history to go down with and it’s just a really cool feeling,” said Wise, who moved from No. 35 to No. 6 on the money list. “I played great all week so none of that surprises me but it’s great to be in that positon.”
Wise won the 2015 Pacific Coast Amateur Championship, and last year won the individual title at the NCAA Championship and helped the Oregon Ducks men’s golf team win their first team championship. He turned pro shortly after and qualified for Mackenzie Tour – PGA TOUR Canada, where he played seven events and posted five top-10s, including a win. He earned conditional status on the Web.com Tour, this year, after finishing the season No. 4 on the Order of Merit.
“I didn’t know what to expect,” said Wise, about playing professional golf. “I see so many great players go up and fall back and so many great players do well. I didn’t know what to expect from myself, when I went on to the next level. To win so quickly on the Mackenzie Tour and play well, I think my worst finish was T15. It was an incredible time and gave me a bunch of confidence moving on to the Web.com Tour.”
Wise has won on every level and took the next step in his journey to the PGA TOUR this week. The Tour rookie missed the last two cuts before the breakthrough in Wichita. Wise made some changes earlier this season and they took ahold this week as he set a tournament record for largest margin of victory.
“I made that change in my swing and I was obviously going to go through some rough patches,” said Wise. “It’s funny how things all come together. My short game was super sharp today. And it was good enough to carry me through it.”
Sunday’s final round grabbed Wise’s attention at certain points when Hossler and Park were making a charge. At one point the lead was cut down to three after Wise bogeyed the fifth and sixth hole. He gathered himself and rattled off five pars in a row before a birdie at 11. Sitting at 19-under, Wise was far from in the clear as Hossler and Park stood 16-under, three back.
The nail in the coffin came at the par-5 14th hole, where Wise hit an 8-iron from 175 yards to six feet. The eagle three took Wise to 21-under, giving him a five-shot cushion coming in.
“It was close all day long,” said Wise. “It was a big enough lead to where I wasn’t scared but I knew that if I made a big mistake it was gone. That definitely separated it and sealed it for me.”
Wise didn’t feel like he needed a win this year but knew it would be easier to get his TOUR card with one. With a trophy under his belt, Wise is freed up to keep playing as aggressively as he did at Crestview CC this week, the remainder of the year.
“It gets me close to locking up my PGA TOUR card for next year which is something I can’t even imagine,” said Wise. “To win on the next stage, I won one in Canada and this is my next win. I keep taking steps in my career and this is a big step.”
Hossler also took a big step this week. The 22-year-old from Mission Viejo, Calif. started 2017 with no status on any Tour. Hossler took care of business this week and is exempt into the last 10 events of the Regular Season, after the reshuffle on Monday.
“It looks like I will have somewhere to play the rest of the year,” said Hossler, who moves to No. 32 on the money list. “It is a big relief for me, I didn’t have any status. I’m looking forward to the rest of the year. It’s nice to get some confidence on this level.”
Notes from the tournament:
- This week’s purse was $625,000, with $112,500 going to Aaron Wise. Wise moves from No. 35 to No. 7 on the money list, with a total of $171,072 through 12 events, and secures his PGA TOUR card for 2017-18.
- Wise’s victory comes at age 20 years, 11 months, 28 days and becomes the fourth youngest winner in Tour history Jason Day (19 years, 7 months, 26 days, 2007 Legend Financial Group Classic), Si Woo Kim (20 years, 21 days, 2015 Stonebrae Classic), Patrick Cantlay (20 years, 11 months, 15 days, 2013 Colombia Championship).
- Wise, at age 20, is the youngest Air Capital Classic champion in tournament history (David Duval – 21).
- Wise becomes the first wire-to-wire winner on the Web.com Tour (not ties) since Stephan Jaeger (2016 Ellie Mae Classic – 7/31/16).
- Wise was born in Cape Town and picked up win No. 12 for South Africa (Tim Clark – 2, Trevor Immelman –1, Garth Mulroy – 2, Brenden Pappas – 2, Deane Pappas – 2, Dawie van der Walt – 2, Aaron Wise – 1).
- On Friday, Wise set a new low 36-hole record at 124 (Scott Piercy/2008 – 126).
- Wise lead Thompson by six shots after the second round for the largest 36-hole lead (Emlyn Aubrey/1998 – five strokes).
- 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.