Monday qualifier Spencer Levin earns first Korn Ferry Tour win at Veritex Bank Championship
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Written by Staff @KornFerryTour
ARLINGTON, Texas – Spencer Levin only registered for the Veritex Bank Championship’s Monday qualifier at the last second. Levin ultimately signed up, flew to Dallas last Sunday, set up shop with an old college friend, and avoided a 5-for-1 playoff with a birdie on his final hole last Monday. Fast forward to Sunday evening at Texas Rangers Golf Club, where Levin two-putted for birdie on the 72nd hole and capped a bogey-free 8-under 63 in the final round for a one-stroke victory over Brett Drewitt.
“Those are tough to do. You’ve got to show a real low score,” the 38-year-old Levin said of Monday qualifiers. “In the middle of the back nine (Monday), I felt like I was playing really well and I was hoping I’d get in. I didn’t know I was going to win, but I knew I was going to play well this week.”
Levin reached 20-under par for the tournament with eight birdies Sunday, carding four on the front nine and another four on the back nine, tying Rico Hoey for the low round of the day and erasing a six-stroke deficit.
Spencer Levin's interview after winning Veritex Bank Championship
Counting the Monday qualifier at nearby Waterchase Golf Club, Levin made 32 birdies, one eagle, and just six bogeys across 90 holes this week.
Levin spent nearly a decade on the PGA TOUR, but entered this week’s Veritex Bank Championship, the seventh event of the 2023 Korn Ferry Tour season, with conditional status. A bogey on the 72nd hole at Final Stage of the 2022 Korn Ferry Tour Qualifying Tournament dropped him to T45. Had Levin made par, this week’s Monday qualifier would not have been necessary, as he would have finished T39 and earned guaranteed starts in the first eight events of the season.
The setback at Q-School must have earned Levin some good karma, a bit of good fortune came back around to him Sunday afternoon.
“I hit a bad shot on No. 10 and thought it was going to cost me the tournament,” Levin said. “It went in the trees and somebody spit it out and it went right in the fairway, and I made a birdie, played great the rest of the way in. That bogey’s history now with that birdie here on No. 18, so I’ll be thinking about this instead of that.”
72nd-hole coverage: Spencer Levin wins Veritex Bank Championship
Levin became the 26th open qualifier in Korn Ferry Tour history who went on to win the tournament. The most recent was Norman Xiong, who qualified for and won the 2022 Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas Wichita Open Benefitting KU Wichita Pediatrics without any status. Prior to Xiong, the last open qualifier who won on Tour was Rick Lamb, a conditional member who won the 2016 LECOM Health Challenge.
While Levin won three times on the Canadian Tour (which later became PGA TOUR Canada) in 2007 and 2008, he made 342 PGA TOUR-sanctioned starts prior to this week and never won. The closest he came was a pair of runner-up finishes on the Korn Ferry Tour, including one in 2008 when he earned a PGA TOUR card at season’s end, and a playoff loss to Johnson Wagner at the 2011 World Wide Technology Championship while on TOUR. Levin ended the 2011 season with a career-high finish of 47th in the FedExCup Standings.
Another close call came at the 2012 WM Phoenix Open. Oddly enough, Levin carried a six-stroke lead – the same deficit he erased Sunday – into the final round at TPC Scottsdale. A 4-over 75 in the final round dropped him to a solo-third finish.
“I’ve played in so many of these things now and, I don’t know, it’s kind of weird. You just don’t ever know when it’s going to happen,” Levin said. “There were times before I thought it would happen, it didn’t. Today, it did. It was just my time.”
The son of a former PGA TOUR player, Levin spent a season at UCLA before he transferred to University of New Meixco, where he was a two-time All-American, including a first-team selection in 2004-05, and broke numerous school records. Levin still holds program records for single-season scoring average (69.95 as a junior in 2004-05) and career scoring average (70.18 from 2003-05).
Spencer Levin shows off unique putter grip and technique
In addition to leading New Mexico to back-to-back victories at the 2004 and 2005 Mountain West Conference Championships, Levin tallied four individual victories and helped the United States win the 2004 Eisenhower Trophy and 2005 Arnold Palmer Cup.
On the amateur circuit, Levin won the 2003 Azalea Invitational, with Webb Simpson succeeding him as champion a year later, the 2004 Porter Cup, an event previously won by David Duval (1992), Scott Verplank (1985), and Ben Crenshaw (1972), as well as the 2004 California State Amateur Championship, which listed Jason Gore (1997), Mark O’Meara (1979), Johnny Miller (1968), and Ken Venturi (1951 and 1956) among its past champions.
Levin also made a name for himself at the 2004 U.S. Open. In the first round at Shinnecock Hills, Levin aced the par-3 17th. By week’s end, Levin stood T13, earning low amateur honors and posting the best finish by an amateur since Jim Simon’s T5 in 1971.
A year later, Levin made his professional debut at the U.S. Open.
And what if someone told him it would take 17 years and 10 months (or 6,513 days) to earn his first TOUR-sanctioned win?
“I don’t even know if I would have wanted to keep doing it,” Levin said. “It’s been a long time, but it’s something I’ve always done. I think every pro golfer will tell you, regardless if they haven’t done it, they have a little bit of belief in them. They always kind of picture the day happening, and I’ve been picturing a day like this for a long time. There’s been so many ups and downs… if you keep playing and you keep working at it and you keep having tournaments to play in, something good’s going to happen, and today’s proof of that.”
Levin’s winning week arrived at perhaps the perfect time, as he was the second alternate for next week’s LECOM Suncoast Classic. With fully exempt status for the rest of 2023, Levin won’t have to worry about Monday qualifiers or the priority ranking anymore.
“I was going to go home unless I top-25’d, but I’m going to Florida,” said Levin, a California native. “I’m heading east instead of west, but I’m going to FaceTime my girlfriend and my kids. I’m just happy. I couldn’t be more grateful, and I’m just looking forward to the rest of the year.
“I got in here last Sunday trying to Monday (qualify), and I’m here this Sunday with a win. It’s amazing what can happen in a week.”