Labor Day weekend provided so many golf storylines that we had to wait until Tuesday to tell you all about them! The Korn Ferry Tour Championship determined a new crop of PGA Tour members, Rory ran into a Swede in Switzerland, and a teenager got in the mix on the LPGA Tour.
Easy does it
Victoria National yielded lower scores than normal this year, but the drama persisted nonetheless. Englishman Tom Lewis won the event after a week of dominant golf, shooting rounds of 68-66-66-65 for a five-shot victory. Lewis made 29 (!) birdies at a soft Victoria National and will now have both PGA Tour and European Tour memberships next season. Leaderboard
While Lewis coasted to PGA Tour card, the rest of the event was more nerve-wracking. Nine players moved into the top 25 this weekend, and here are some highlights (and lowlights).
Chris Baker – A big story throughout the week, Baker had to grind all the way to the finish. Baker grew up in southern Indiana and has never held PGA Tour membership. He three-putted for double bogey on the 71st hole of the tournament, and had to hole a five-footer to earn his card. After six years on the Korn Ferry Tour, Chris Baker is finally heading to the big stage.
Doug Ghim – In the fairway on the 18th hole needing just a par for his tour card, Doug Ghim liked his chances. He then pulled his short-iron approach into the green-side bunker. Ghim summoned a phenomenal bunker shot and holed this putt to earn his first tour card. A former All-American at Texas, Ghim will be a welcome addition to the young crop of PGA Tour players.
Hank Lebioda – The third player needing a clutch par save on the 18th hole was Hank Lebioda. A double bogey on the 14th hole put his chances at risk, but a seven-foot knee-knocker sent him back to the PGA Tour. Lebioda finished No. 148 in the FedEx Cup rankings last season.
Cameron Davis – Like Lebioda, Cameron Davis didn’t have as good a season on the PGA Tour as he would have liked. A Friday 73 put his chances in doubt, but Davis didn’t let that deter him. He shot 69-67 on the weekend to earn his card.
Richy Werenski – Mr. 126 on the PGA Tour this season, Werenski was set up for heartbreak yet again at Victoria National. A bogey on the benign 13th hole left him outside of the top 25, but fortune broke his way down the stretch. He birdied the Nos. 15 and 16 coming in, and eked out one of the final two PGA Tour cards.
D.J. Trahan – In attitude and scorecard, D.J. Trahan had the rockiest ride to the finish this weekend. Bogeys on Nos. 12 and 14 seemed to take Trahan out of the running, but he bounced back with birdies on Nos. 15 and 18 to earn his PGA Tour card. A 38-year-old veteran, he will be playing his first full season on the PGA Tour since 2012.
Blayne Barber – For every happy story, there’s a sad one. Inside the cut line with three holes to go, Blayne Barber bogeyed the 16th and 17th holes to finish 31st in the final standings. He’ll head back to the Korn Ferry Tour for the second year in a row.
Justin Harding – Although he wasn’t on the course, it was a torturous Monday for Justin Harding. He missed the cut this weekend and had to wait to see how far he would fall in the rankings. As it turns out, he fell less than one point shy of a PGA Tour card. If Lanto Griffin had made a five-foot putt on 18, Harding would have gotten there, but it wasn’t meant to be. Ranked 52nd in the world, Harding will have no trouble getting starts on the European Tour and in the WGCs next year, but it is weird to think he will not be a full PGA Tour member.
Harris English – For the first time since 2011, Harris English will not be a full-time member of the PGA Tour. After holding onto the 125th spot in 2018, English finished 149th in the FedEx Cup this year and was forced to play the Korn Ferry Tour Finals. He was hovering on the bubble all day, but a back-nine 38 left him T-29 for the finals. He will, however, still have conditional status on the PGA Tour next year.
José de Jesús Rodríguez – A feel-good story from last year, “The Shrimp” will be heading back to the Korn Ferry Tour. He entered the week ranked 20th in the finals standings, but dropped to 28th after a T-33 finish at Victoria National.
Not one, not two, not three, not four…
The European Tour took center-stage on Sunday morning for the final round of the Omega European Masters. Plenty of drama unfolded down the stretch, and the result was a five-way playoff to determine the champion. You would think a playoff that large would require some time to determine a winner, but Sebastian Söderberg squashed that idea. Having just polished off a final-round 66, the 28-year-old Swede birdied the first playoff hole to capture his first European Tour title. Among the group he beat in the playoff was Rory McIlroy, who flew from Atlanta to Switzerland just a day after winning the Tour Championship. Leaderboard
Green with envy
Hannah Green has had a pretty solid summer. The 22-year-old Aussie won the LPGA’s Cambia Portland Open on Sunday, just two months after winning the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. After rounds of 64-63 to open the event, Green shot a third-round 73 to fall out of the lead. On Sunday, however, she closed with three birdies over her final seven holes to win by one shot over Yealimi Noh. Leaderboard
While Green came back to grab the victory, the real story on Sunday was Yealimi Noh. An 18-year-old Monday qualifier, Noh held a three-shot lead with three holes to play. Green birdied 17, and Noh made nervy bogeys on 16 and 18 to fall one shot back. This is her second top-10 finish of the season, both resulting from Monday qualifiers. Unfortunately for Noh, the LPGA does not reward high finishers with spots in the following events. She will head to Q-School this fall.
The Carmel Cup at Pebble Beach kicked off the NCAA season over the weekend. Texas Tech and senior Sandy Scott took home both the team and individual titles, while Oklahoma and Arkansas rounded out the top three. Leaderboard
The ComMUNIty Project: Doak and Hanse come aboard in D.C. – Is a golf renaissance in the U.S. capitol on its way? As Garrett Morrison reports, the National Links Trust has partnered with Tom Doak and Gil Hanse in its bid to restore and renovate the historic municipal courses of Washington, D.C.
The weather really pulled one over on us this weekend as two inches of rain turned Victoria National into a birdie-fest. Hey, speaking of which, we have pullovers, too! Grab a Fried Egg pullover from our pro shop and get all nice and comfy for fall golf. Get yours today!