Pastore wins LOCALiQ Series tournament, qualifies for PGA Tour's Barbasol Championship

David Pastore has enjoyed numerous championship moments on various golf courses, but he described last week’s victory at TPC SugarLoaf in Duluth, Georgia, as the biggest win of his career.

Pastore, a Greenwich native and Stamford resident, earned the most significant victory of his career to date, finishing atop the leaderboard at the LOCALiQ Tour Series Championship. Winning the four-round tournament gave Pastore a sponsor exemption in the PGA Tour’s 2021 Barbasol Championship.

Shooting a 14-under-par 274 over four rounds, Pastore won the tournament by one shot over Trace Crowe (13-under-par 275).

“Earning a spot in the Barbasol Championship by winning the tournament is definitely a nice perk,” said Pastore, a 2010 Greenwich High School graduate, who also played golf at the University of Virginia. “It was the main carrot they had dangling on this tour. I’m looking forward to playing in a PGA Tour event that I can mentally and physically prepare for.”

The PGA Tour’s 2021 Barbasol Championship is scheduled to be held in July in Lexington, Kentucky, so Pastore does indeed have time to prepare for the tournament. This marks the first time in his career that he received an exemption into a PGA Tour event.

Pastore has Monday-qualified into four PGA events — the 2015 Travelers Championship, the Farmers Insurance Open and The Honda Classic in 2019 and the Travelers Championship this past June.

“It was nice to play good golf on a good course in a great field,” the 28-year-old Pastore said. “I was satisfied that I played four good rounds and led tournament from almost start to finish.”

Pastore has played on the PGA’s Mackenzie Tour since 2015, but this year the PGA Tour canceled the Mackenzie Tour, the PGA Tour Series China and the PGA Tour Latinoamerica due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since hundreds of Tour players had no events to compete in, the organization’s International Tours group formed the LOCALiQ Series. The LOCALiQ Series was comprised of eight tournaments that were held in Southeastern states in the U.S. and included golfers from the Mackenzie, Latinoamerica and China tours.

“This tour they created saved the year for me and a lot of players,” Pastore said. “I played pretty solid in the first seven events and was in the top three or four in each event in scoring average.”

The top three points leaders after the eight LOCALiQ Series tournaments earned an exemption into 2021 PGA Tour events. Pastore’s victory last Friday at TPC Sugarloaf moved him up to second on the season-long points list and he chose to compete in the Barbasol Championship. Bryce Nimmer, the points winner, accepted a spot in the RBC Canadian Open and Carson Young, third on the point list, will also play in the Barbasol Championship.

In the LOCALiQ Series Championship, Pastore led after the first round following a round of 66, then was atop the leaderboard heading into the third round after carding a 69. He entered the final round one shot behind Crowe, but gained a four-stroke advantage more than halfway into the fourth round. Crowe cut into Pastore’s lead though and trailed by just one shot heading into the final hole.

“The final round was a nail-biter,” Pastore said. “I started one back, then I built up a four-shot lead going to 10 and 11 and then I was up by only one shot. The last five holes were very tense.”

Crowe missed a birdie putt on No. 18 and Pastore won the eighth and most significant tournament on the LOCALiQ Series’ list of events.

“I made some nice pars throughout the final round and even though I was only ahead by one shot, I told myself that I stil had the lead,” Pastore said. “I knew he would still have to play to get me. It’s very rewarding to capitalize on all of that consistent play. This was my biggest win in terms of competition and the way I played.”

During Pastore’s 2019 season on the Mackenzie Tour, he placed second at the Canada Life Championship, third at the Mackenzie Investments Open and fourth at the Osprey Valley Open. His victory on the Mackenzie Tour (his first professional victory) came when he captured the 2016 Niagara Championship at Cherry Hill Club in Fort Erie, Ontario, with a 14-under 270 over four rounds.

Pastore, who turned pro in 2014 and was the Metropolitan Golf Association’s Player of the Year in 2014, is heading to Palm Beach, Florida, soon, where he will spend plenty of time golfing.

“It’s nice to have one start on the PGA Tour for next year,” he said. “Until then, I am going to try and get into other tournaments by playing in PGA and Korn Ferry Tour Monday qualifiers. I’m really optimistic about how I’m playing.”

dfierro@greenwichtime.com