‘A perfect birthday present’: Calgary’s Jakob Chicoyne set for PGA Tour debut

‘I finally accomplished the one thing I’ve been working my whole life for — and that’s just a chance to play on the PGA Tour’

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After laying up to an ideal yardage, Calgary’s Jakob Chicoyne watched this pressure-packed wedge-shot float toward the target.

Golfers are constantly chasing perfection. This seemed pretty darn close.

Chicoyne left himself with just a one-footer for birdie. By sinking that putt, he snagged one of the final qualifying spots for the 2024 RBC Canadian Open at Hamilton G&CC. It will mark his first start on the PGA Tour — “a perfect birthday present” as he turns 23 over the weekend.

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“It was just a stock 58-degree that I’ve worked countless hours on, so I knew I could hit it,” Chicoyne said, reminiscing about coming up clutch with that wicked wedge in Tuesday’s playoff at TPC Toronto. “It was quite funny because my father was watching it and he wasn’t saying anything. And I watched it land and the only thing that went through my head once it started to spin back was, ‘Get in!’ It looked that good. There’s no other way to describe. Just everything about that shot … It was legitimately 23 years in the making.

“I finally accomplished the one thing I’ve been working my whole life for — and that’s just a chance to play on the PGA Tour. It’s surreal.”

It didn’t take long for the significance to set in. The Glencoe G&CC member will be strolling the same fairways this week as superstar Rory McIlroy. The field also includes a record 28 Canadians, headlined by defending champion Nick Taylor and his pals Corey Conners and Adam Hadwin.

Immediately after Tuesday’s playoff triumph, Chicoyne and his dad Ron, who is doubling as his caddie, were hustling to the tournament venue for a practice round.

They were still trying to get their bearings when they experienced another pinch-me moment — a surprise encounter with a guy who has been fitted for a Green Jacket and has collected a grand total of 32 professional victories around the globe.

“We picked up our credentials and we were trying to make our way around the clubhouse, trying to find a way in,” Chicoyne said. “We ended up going to where the players come off of No. 18 and all of a sudden, there’s this guy walking up. We realized we had to go the other way around the clubhouse, so we had to follow this individual. Well, it turns out to be Adam Scott. He passed within a foot of me and I just looked at him and thought, ‘Wow.’ ”

‘Wow’ is probably how a lot of golf fans reacted when the PGA Tour posted a replay Tuesday of the shot that made Chicoyne’s childhood dreams a reality — a 105-yard arrow to set up that tap-in for birdie

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“To see all his hard work pay off with a wedge shot that he stuck in there to a foot, it was fun to wake up and see that highlight on Twitter,” beamed Chicoyne’s coach Luke Workman, a teaching professional at Glencoe. “I’m just super happy for him. He’s worked really hard over the last bunch of years. Golf is crazy, you never know when crazy things are going to happen, but I knew his game was in a good spot. He made eight birdies in nine holes in the middle of his round in the regional qualifier at Sirocco, so I knew he was hitting it well.

“It’s just getting hot at the right time, which he did.”

Chicoyne, a Rundle College alum, recently completed his senior season at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va. He will be competing as an amateur this week, maintaining his eligibility so he can wrap his collegiate career as a grad student at Washington State.

The smooth-swinging left-hander will tee off at 6:46 a.m. MT in Thursday’s opening round of the 2024 RBC Canadian Open. His mom, Jacquie, and one of his best friends will be among those in the gallery, while Workman also scrambled to catch a flight to Hamilton.

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And back home in Calgary, especially at Glencoe G&CC, there will be a lot of folks who are constantly refreshing the leaderboard or hoping to catch a glimpse on Golf Channel or TSN.

Chicoyne’s aim is to stick around beyond the 36-hole cut. A few tap-in birdies, like the one Tuesday to seal his first PGA Tour start, would certainly help the cause.

“This means everything to me,” said Chicoyne, who won the Alberta Match Play Championship in 2022 and finished fifth among amateurs at the 2023 Alberta Open. “The only expectations I have for myself … There’s two of them. One is just to enjoy this experience. It’s a dream come true and so I have to live it to its fullest and be in the moment and not try to get too carried away with everything at the same time.

“And then from a golf aspect, I need to go out there and the expectation is just to stick to my process on every single shot. My process has obviously been good enough to get me here and so if I stick to it, hopefully I make the cut.”

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