McQuillan ties for sixth at Reno-Tahoe

MIKE KOREEN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:14 AM ET

KINGSTON, Ont. -- Matt McQuillan is proving to be one heck of a Sunday driver.

For that matter, feel free to call him a good Sunday putter, chipper and just plain golfer, too.

The Kingston native continued his trend of shooting up leaderboards on Sundays with another big finish at the PGA Tour's Reno-Tahoe Open in Reno, Nev.

With his final round of six-under-par 66 (the best score of the day), McQuillan improved to 11-under for the tourney, good for a four-way tie for six place and a cheque for $97,125 US.

McQuillan leads all PGA Tour players this season with an average final round score of 68.2. Granted, he has played only five final rounds (fewer than many of the top players), but it remains an impressive average. In second place is Luke Donald, the top-ranked player in the world.

“On Sundays, unless you're in the lead or (close to it), you can pretty much just gamble,” McQuillan said over the phone after his round. “The rest of the players (excluding those close to the lead) just try to go out and post something low. I was playing pretty solid a lot of the week and I just wasn't really getting anything out of my rounds. I figured if I could shoot seven-under, I could get a top-10 out of it. It turned out one less was good enough.”

It was the second top-10 showing of the season for McQuillan, who has turned his rookie campaign around by making four cuts in the past five weeks after missing 10 in a row.

As a result, two goals that looked unattainable before this surge suddenly are within reach.

With one tournament left (the Wyndham Championship, after McQuillan sits out the PGA Championship this week) before the FedEx Cup playoffs, he has a shot to get into the top 125 in the standings and qualify for the post-season. When the stats are tabulated Monday morning, McQuillan is projected to be sitting 141st.

“I'm very happy with the day and with the tournament,” he said. “It's what I needed to do to get myself in the running for the playoffs. The first leg is done. I figured I needed two top-10s to make the playoffs. I hope to keep this confidence going heading (to the Wyndham Championship).

The other goal is to try to make it into the top 125 on the money's list at season's end, which allows players to keep their PGA Tour cards for the following season. Again, McQuillan figures to be in the 140 range come Monday. After the playoffs, there are four Fall Series events for players to try to earn more cash.

If McQuillan does not make the playoffs, he could enter some Nationwide Tour events, but that's a decision for after the Wyndham.

Tied for 28th at the Reno-Tahoe entering Sunday, McQuillan made his statement at the end of the front nine, registering three birdies in a row to climb to four-under for the day.

Birdies followed at Nos. 13, 15 and 18 with the lone bogey on No. 17 after McQuillan found the bunker on his approach.

That lone miscue ended a 32-hole stretch without a bogey, a period when McQuillan was nine-under-par. He ended up four strokes behind the winner — home state favourite Scott Piercy of Las Vegas.

McQuillan is heading down to Naples, Fla. for his week off.

“I was exhausted after (the RBC Canadian Open, his third of five tournaments in a row),” McQuillan said. “Three weeks in a row wasn't a big deal on the Canadian Tour or the mini-tours, but there's definitely a lot more pressure out here and it takes something out of you.

“It'll be nice to go to Florida, relax, play a few casual rounds and just wind down a bit.”

When McQuillan got to five-under on his round, Mark McQuillan, Matt's dad, texted Donna McQuillan, his wife and Matt's mom. At the time, McQuillan was walking up the 18th fairway at the Garrison Golf and Curling Club.

“I was struggling (with her game) on Saturday,” said Donna McQuillan, who does not keep score. “But I brought it back a bit (on Sunday) and so did Matt.

“I was saying to Mark when I got home that he's learning every week. He really has made progress. He's just getting (it going) on Sundays and that's just sheer determination.”

Donna said she's made a habit of staying away from the computer on Sundays.

“I find sitting and watching the shot-tracker a little unnerving, so I try to keep myself busy,” she said.”

Matt McQuillan will have some hometown support at the Wyndham Championship as his cousins, Tamilyn and Mike Harpell, are making the trip to Greensboro, N.C.

With his latest big pay-day, McQuillan eclipses the $400,000-mark for the season, jumping to $423,620.

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