Madison native Brian Carlson earns his first PGA Tour Canada victory

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Brian Carlson signed his scorecard after his final round at the Prince Edward Island Open in Canada when he was told he had won the tournament.

But Carlson had to see for himself.

“I asked someone to drive me back to the 18th green to make sure,” Carlson said. “It turned out to be right, but I still wanted to make sure everyone signed their card.”

It was official: Madison native Carlson had won his first tournament on the PGA Tour Canada. He has been on tour since 2019.

What made it even more special was his father, Bill, who was his caddy.

“That was special,” said Carlson, 26. “He wanted to watch me play. He hasn’t been to an event for a long time.”

Carlson shagged the 16th and 17th holes to take a 2-shot lead into the last hole, but then smashed his tee shot on 18 into the water hazard. After his penalty shot and subsequent third shot, Carlson threw himself 7 feet onto the green. He then checked the leaderboard and found he had a 2 shot lead.

Carlson proceeded to make the putt for par. He shot a final 65 and won by 1 shot.

“I was finally able to clear my doubts in the course. Now I know that if I get into those scenarios more often, I can win,” said Carlson. “It feels great to win. The level of competition is insane. You really have to play solidly for four days to win.”

Carlson won $36,000 — in Canadian and before taxes, he noted — but still a big payday. He is able to pay off credit card debt resulting from tournament fees and travel expenses. As with many sports, it’s difficult to make a living unless you’re playing on the biggest stages, in this case the PGA Tour.

“Golf is an expensive sport. I feel that availability and opportunity now allows for more competition. Every kid that graduates from college is incredibly talented,” Carlson said.

Carlson was a standout at Purdue University’s Big 10 Conference and graduated in 2018. He played on the Dakotas Tour straight out of college before joining the PGA Tour Canada.

But this particular tour has been one of the hardest hit by the pandemic. The Americans have not been able to compete in Canada for the past two years. So in 2020, Carlson attended eight LocaliQ events across the US to keep his game sharp.

Last year, the Forme Tour was created for players in the US who couldn’t cross the border.

Carlson has a degree in Economics. But he really hasn’t given much thought to a fallback plan if it doesn’t work. He’s totally into his golf career.

“(Being a professional golfer is) definitely not for the faint of heart. You have to be willing to go to the deepest depths, I know it sounds cliche, but you have to be so pressured. It’s a good test to find out what you’re made of,” Carlson said.

More important than the prize money are the 500 Fortinet Cup points Carlson received for the win. He took first place after three events. The tour is now on a three-week break ahead of the final seven events of the season.

The top 10 on the points list will receive status on the next season’s Korn Ferry Tour. Golfers are guaranteed spots in some fields if they finish second through fifth, while the points champion is completely free for next season on the Korn Ferry.

“The goal is to progress to the next point in my career on the Korn Fery Tour as soon as possible if all goes according to plan,” said Carlson.

[email protected]; @nhrJoeMorelli

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