YORK — Caleb Manuel, a 19-year-old amateur from Topsham, has qualified for this week’s Live and Work in Maine Open at Falmouth Country Club.

Manuel shot a 6-under 66 in the Monday Qualifier at The Ledges Golf Club to finish tied for third, He earned one of eight remaining spots in the Korn Ferry Tour pro golf tournament that makes its debut in Maine on Thursday. The Korn Ferry Tour is the developmental arm of the PGA Tour.

Manuel had six birdies, three on the front nine and three on the back. It was his first attempt at trying to qualify for a professional tour event.

“I want to play at the next level so it’s going to be a good test to see what it takes,” Manuel said.

The 2020 Maine Junior amateur champion recently completed a strong season at the University of Connecticut. Manuel was named Big East Freshman of the Year and earned conference first-team honors while helping UConn win the Big East tournament.

Manuel credited his caddy Peter Piveronas, a teaching professional at the Woodlands, for helping with reads of the greens and keeping him aggressively tracking birdies on Monday. Three-under at the turn after a clutch par save on No. 6 and a pair of 15-foot birdies on holes 7 and 8, Manuel birdied 10, 11, and 12 to get to 6-under.

Manuel will be the youngest player in the 72-hole Live and Work in Maine Open. Now the goal is to try to go toe-to-toe with seasoned professionals trying to earn their PGA Tour cards.

“I’ll get to know the course a little better. I mean I’ve played there a few times but go map it out and, yeah, try to make a cut in a pro event,” said Manuel, who will play as an amateur.

Two other amateurs qualified at The Ledges but both are in their 20s: Josh McCarthy, 24, who just finished his senior season at NCAA champion Pepperdine and shot a 7-under 65, and Aman Gupta, 22, who will be a senior at Oklahoma State.

McCarthy said he plans to declare himself a professional before Thursday’s opening round. Gupta said he intends to turn pro as soon as his senior season is finished. Like Manuel, Monday was the first time either McCarthy or Gupta had made a qualifier cut for a pro tournament.

Jace McCarron, 27, a pro without tour status from Jacksonville, Florida, shot the low round, 8-under 64. It is the first time McCarron, a native of Hopkinton, Massachusetts, has qualified for a Korn Ferry event. He said he supplements his income by caddying at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra, Florida, while chasing mini-tour events in Florida and a minor league tour in the Carolinas called the GPro Tour.

If a Monday Qualifier finishes in the top 20 of a Korn Ferry event, he will be invited to the next tour stop. A few successful weeks in a row can change a struggling pro’s career trajectory.

“Your mind definitely goes there but I try not to think about that,” McCarron said.

“The biggest thing is this is just a huge confidence booster, knowing you can come to one of these and get the job done.”

The other qualifiers were Zander Winston, 28, of Scottsdale, Arizona, who tied with Manuel at 6-under 66 and will make his second Korn Ferry Tour start; Gunner Wiebe, of Sherman Oaks, California, will make his fifth Korn Ferry start and first since 2016 (4-under 68); Hoke Carlton, 24, from Charlotte, North Carolina; and Lee McCoy, 27, from Clarkesville, Georgia.

Carlton and McCoy were among seven players tied at 3-under and claimed the final two spots with birdies on the first playoff hole. Carlton will make his first start in a PGA Tour affiliated event. McCoy, coming back from wrist surgeries, was a regular on the Korn Ferry Tour in 2018 and 2019.


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