Takeaways from Veritex Bank Championship: Cole Hammer shines in home state
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Brett Drewitt notches fifth top-10 of season; Tom Whitney continues to impress
Written by Justin Evans
Here’s a look at notable storylines from last week’s Veritex Bank Championship, contested at the Texas Rangers Golf Club in Arlington, Texas. Spencer Levin won at 20-under 264, holding off Brett Drewitt by one stroke. The win moves Levin from No. 150 to No. 11 in the season-long standings, as the 38-year-old eyes a PGA TOUR return. The top 30 finishers at year’s end will earn 2024 PGA TOUR membership.
Conditional member Cole Hammer, playing the Veritex Bank Championship via a sponsor exemption, followed bogeys on Nos. 15 and 16 with back-to-back birdies on Nos. 17 and 18 to convert his first made cut in his second start of the season into a top-25 (T21 at 11 under), earning him a spot in this week’s LECOM Suncoast Classic. Hammer was the 12th alternate for the LECOM Suncoast Classic prior to Sunday’s top-25.
Hammer has exhausted his seven allotted sponsor exemptions for the PGA TOUR this season and remains 42.358 points shy of Special Temporary Membership, which would allow him to accept unlimited sponsor exemptions for the remainder of the 2022-23 TOUR season and earn a spot on the TOUR Priority Ranking. This made his performance in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex even more critical, and he delivered in emphatic fashion.
Hammer followed a No. 5 finish on the 2022 PGA TOUR University Ranking with a T59 at Final Stage of Q-School, leaving him with conditional membership for the 2023 Korn Ferry Tour season. His top-25 in Texas will go a long way toward improving his spot on the Korn Ferry Tour Priority Ranking upon the next reshuffle after the LECOM Suncoast Classic.
“I’m taking it day by day” Cole Hammer on conditional status
Drewitt a picture of consistency
Brett Drewitt has recorded five top-10s in his first six starts of the season, becoming just the fourth player in Korn Ferry Tour history to record five top-10s within the first seven events of a season (he did not play the Astara Chile Classic). Drewitt carded 19-under 265 for a runner-up finish at the Veritex Bank Championship, just one stroke off Levin’s winning pace. Drewitt, who carried a five-stroke lead into the final round, became the first player to not convert a 54-hole lead of five-plus strokes into a win since Kevin Chappell at the 2010 Ford Wayne Gretzky Classic presented by Samsung. Nonetheless, Drewitt moves from No. 9 to No. 2 on the season-long standings, well positioned to secure a PGA TOUR return at year’s end.
Fishburn seizes the moment
Patrick Fishburn, who finished No. 49 on the 2022 Korn Ferry Tour Points List, snapped a streak of five consecutive missed cuts with his first top-10 since a career-high finish (T2) at last year’s Utah Championship presented by Zions Bank. The Utah native finished T3 at Texas Rangers GC, marking the second-highest finish of his career. Fishburn moves to No. 36 on the season-long standings as he pursues his first TOUR card.
Whitney gains momentum
Tom Whitney recorded his third top-10 in seven starts this season; after entering the year with seven top-10s in 94 career starts on the Korn Ferry Tour. His most top-10s in a season is four, across the 46-event 2020-21 campaign – and the Air Force alum is poised to jump past that as he chases his first TOUR card. Whitney placed sixth at the Veritex Bank Championship and now stands No. 12 on the Korn Ferry Tour Points List.
Jake Knapp, playing his second season as a Korn Ferry Tour member after a No. 2 finish on the 2022 PGA TOUR Canada Fortinet Cup standings, finished T7 at the Veritex Bank Championship to match his career-high finish (Astara Golf Championship presented by Mastercard earlier this year). With two top-10s in six starts this year, he now stands No. 25 on the season-long standings. Knapp entered the year with one top-10 in 36 career Korn Ferry Tour starts, but he’s the man with the plan so far in 2023.