After Monday qualifying to get a start this week, 23-year-old Norman Xiong holds the outright 36-hole lead at the Wichita Open Benefitting KU Wichita Pediatrics. Xiong’s second-round 9-under 61 marked a new career-low round and tied Crestview Country Club’s course record.
Xiong entered the day T17 after a 4-under 66 in the first round and played in the final group of the afternoon wave Friday. The only blemish on his scorecard came on the opening hole as he bogeyed the par-4 first. Xiong played flawless the rest of the day as he carded 10 total birdies.
Following the bogey, the University of Oregon alum played the next seven holes at 5-under par as he birdied Nos. 2, 3, 5, 7 and 8, to make the turn at 4-under par. Xiong rolled in five more birdies on the back nine at Nos. 11, 13-15 and 18. Through two rounds of play, Xiong is 13-under par and sits one stroke ahead of Tyson Alexander and Kevin Roy heading into the weekend.
Xiong is making just his second start of the Korn Ferry Tour season this week. In February, he also Monday qualified into the LECOM Suncoast Classic, but matching 69s weren’t enough to make the cut.
Xiong initially joined the Korn Ferry Tour in 2019 after carding a 26-under 262 to finish runner-up at Final Stage of the 2018 Korn Ferry Tour Qualifying Tournament. In his rookie season, the Las Vegas, Nevada resident recorded one top-25 finish in 21 starts, a T14 at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail Championship. Since earning guaranteed starts for his rookie season, Xiong has struggled to maintain status on a PGA TOUR-sanctioned circuit.
“It’s just been a process of learning more about myself,” Xiong told Golf Digest in an interview last month. “What works and what doesn’t. I’ve learned so, so much about playing the game at this level.”
A native of San Diego, California, Xiong was a highly decorated amateur who won the 2017 Western Am and was a member of the victorious 2017 Walker Cup and Palmer Cup teams. He continued his success in college as he earned freshman player of the year honors followed by the Jack Nicklaus and Fred Haskins awards as a sophomore, before deciding to turn professional in 2018.
Prior to Xiong taking the outright lead late in the afternoon, Tyson Alexander and Kevin Roy were co-leaders for much of the day. Both players held a share of the 18-hole lead, along with Alex Chiarella, and carded matching 66s Friday to sit at 12-under.
Alexander’s bogey-free round was steady with a total of four birdies (Nos. 7, 8, 12, 14), two coming on each nine. The 33-year-old may have turned in a scorecard without any blemishes, however he didn’t have a smooth start to his second round.
“We got up on the first tee and I went to put the pin sheet in my yardage book and it wasn’t there,” Alexander said regarding his missing yardage book. “So I was a little flustered for a hole and a half and then they brought one out to me, just a random one. It was boneheaded of me but we’ll get it fixed.”
Roy’s Friday scorecard was similar to Alexander’s – a bogey-free round with two birdies on each nine. Just like he did in the first round, Roy birdied the first and second holes. The Tampa, Florida native rolled in two more birdies on the back at the 11th and 14th.
“Stick to the game plan and keep doing the same things,” said Roy. “Like I said yesterday, I really like this course. I’ll keep hitting drivers where I’m hitting drivers. Sticking to the game plan, for sure.”
Third-round pairings will run from 7:05 a.m. through 12:25 p.m. local time off the first tee.