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For the first time in over two years, Norman Xiong will tee it up in a PGA Tour event.
This time he won’t need an exemption.
The former Oregon standout, now 22, shot 7-under 64 Monday at Victory Links Golf Club in Blaine, Minnesota, to earn the final of four spots into the crosstown Tour event, the 3M Open, which begins Thursday.
Stephen Stallings, Tom Lovelady and Justin Raphael Quiban were the other three qualifiers. Lovelady, a former Tour member, was part of Alabama’s 2014 NCAA title-winning lineup, but neither he nor Stallings, a solid player at Kentucky, were the type of can’t-miss prospect that Xiong was.
Xiong won the Haskins and Nicklaus awards in 2018 following a six-win sophomore season with the Ducks. He turned pro that summer, foregoing his final two years of eligibility, and immediately was faced with lofty expectations. He signed millions worth of endorsement deals, and his college coach, Casey Martin, even said this of the uber-talented teenager: “At 19 years old, I think Tiger is the only guy I would defer to as being better than Norman. I haven’t seen much better than him at that age. He’s really that good.”
However, Xiong struggled immediately, making just two cuts in nine professional starts between the PGA and European tours. His rookie season on the Korn Ferry Tour the following year wasn’t much better, as he missed the weekend 16 times in 21 starts despite finishing runner-up at Q-School to earn his card. He couldn’t keep it either, shooting 81 in the opening round of second stage in 2019 to miss out on a repeat trip to final stage.
“I know that you have to be patient,” Xiong told GolfChannel.com back in 2019. “Guys have missed a bunch of cuts starting off and gone on to have a lot of success. You just have to keep your head down.”
His last Tour start came in 2019 at Memorial, where he tied for 68th. His last world-ranked appearance was a missed cut at the KFT’s Lincoln Land Championship last September. Currently relegated to mini-tours and qualifiers, Xiong is ranked No. 1,892 in the Official World Golf Ranking and holds zero world-ranking points.
But now he’s got another shot on the big tour.