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Auburn freshman Jackson Koivun makes cut at the Memorial in PGA TOUR debut, one step closer to earning card

DUBLIN, Ohio – Jackson Koivun’s list of accolades is already extensive. The 19-year-old college freshman became the first golfer in NCAA history to sweep the three collegiate Player of the Year awards and Freshman of the Year in the same season. He also led Auburn to its first national championship title.

He can add a made cut in his PGA TOUR debut to that list.

Koivun birdied two of his final five holes to finish 4-over and inside the cutline through 36 holes at the Memorial Tournament presented by Workday. With the made cut, Koivun earned his 15th point in PGA TOUR University’s Accelerated Program. He is five points from reaching the 20-point threshold and earning a TOUR member. He would join Gordon Sargent as the only golfer to hit the threshold.

“I think today is probably the hardest golf conditions and course I ever played,” Koivun said. “I’m pretty happy with how I played. It means so much to come out here with that sponsor’s exemption and hopefully make the cut and play this weekend.”

Koivun earned a spot in the Memorial by winning the Jack Nicklaus Award, given by the Golf Coaches Association of America to the player of the year. Koivun also won the Ben Hogan Award, Haskins Award and Phil Mickelson Outstanding Freshman Award. He’s the first golfer to win all four in a single season.

Koivun won twice in his freshman season, including the SEC Championship. He finished in the top 10 in 12 of his 13 stroke-play starts and had the lowest adjusted scoring average (67.3) in Division I. He earned the clinching point in Auburn’s semifinal match in the NCAA Championship, which went to extra holes. Then he earned Auburn’s first point in the national championship against Florida State.

Koivun shot 4-over 76 on Friday after opening with a round of even-par 72. It was needed breathing room during a difficult second round with strong wind gusts and firming greens. Koivun was 5-over through 10 holes after making a double on the opening hole of the back nine, but the teenager found something with his swing on 11th hole. He made three straight pars before holing back-to-back birdies on 14 and 15 to play himself back inside the cutline.

“In the back of my mind I’m like, you got a lot of birdie holes coming up and it could move to 5, so as long as you get through 10 or 11 and 12, they were playing straight in the wind and playing really hard, I had some good opportunities coming in, just needed to play smart coming through.”

He holed a 14-foot birdie on the 14th, found the green in two on the par-5 15th, and made a comfortable two-putt birdie. Koivun nearly grabbed another on the 18th but ran his mid-range birdie putt 5 feet by the hole. He missed the comebacker for a closing bogey, but that didn’t dampen his mood.

“It’s awesome,” Koivun said of his made cut.

Koivun’s quest for 20 PGA TOUR University Accelerated points now looks like a matter of when not if. Koivun has more than two years to earn five points after earning 15 in his freshman season. He is likely guaranteed to earn two more this summer. Currently No. 3 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, Koivun will jump to No. 2 and earn another point once Christo Lamprecht makes his first professional start. Koivun will earn another point when he competes in the Palmer Cup in July.

Another point is still up for grabs this weekend. Koivun could earn his 16th point with a top-10 finish. He was tied for 45th when he walked off Muirfield Village on Friday afternoon.

“Every point is so valuable now, trying to make that push to get to 20,” Koivun said. “Hopefully I can get a couple more starts and kind of earn that TOUR card … but I’m looking forward to what the future has.”

The future is very bright.