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Takeaways from HomeTown Lenders: Trace Crowe's magic-carpet ride

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HUNTSVILLE, ALABAMA - APRIL 30: Trace Crowe of the United States hits a tee shot on the 1st hole during the final round of the HomeTown Lenders Championship at The Ledges on April 30, 2023 in Huntsville, Alabama. (Photo by Alex Slitz/Getty Images)

HUNTSVILLE, ALABAMA - APRIL 30: Trace Crowe of the United States hits a tee shot on the 1st hole during the final round of the HomeTown Lenders Championship at The Ledges on April 30, 2023 in Huntsville, Alabama. (Photo by Alex Slitz/Getty Images)

Ben Kohles outlasts Ben Silverman in playoff; Michael Sweeney gains legions of fans

    Here’s a look at the notable storylines from last week’s HomeTown Lenders Championship, contested at The Ledges in Huntsville, Alabama.

    Ben Kohles defeated Ben Silverman with a birdie on the second playoff hole to secure his second win of the season. Kohles stands No. 1 on the Korn Ferry Tour Points List as the circuit moves into a two-week hiatus. Kohles is eyeing a return to the PGA TOUR, as the top 30 on the season-long standings will earn 2024 PGA TOUR membership.

    3 things to know | Round 3 | HomeTown Lenders

    Things can change in a week

    Entering the week as an alternate, Trace Crowe needed a top-25 finish at the HomeTown Lenders Championship to advance to the AdventHealth Championship later this month in Kansas City, Missouri. After earning a spot in the field on Friday morning due to Chris Baker’s WD, Crowe carded 8-under 202 for a T11 finish, a career-best showing on the Korn Ferry Tour, to secure his spot at Blue Hills CC.

    With the event shortened to 54 holes due to early-week fog, Crowe stood T16 into the third round and hung tough with a 2-under 68, including a birdie at the final hole for a fitting exclamation point on a wild week.

    "It's massive just to even get in," Crowe said on Sunday evening. "And then just took advantage of it. Today was very hard, just had to stay patient. It's sometimes hard for me, but I did well today ... Just excited to get into the next event; hopefully I can do that until the next reshuffle."

    The story didn’t stop there, as Crowe headed to North Carolina for the Wells Fargo Championship’s Monday qualifier, then shot 6-under 65 to earn a tee time this week at Quail Hollow Club.

    "I've been looking forward to this qualifier; I live basically in downtown Charlotte," Crowe said after his spot in the Wells Fargo field was made official. "I was tired this morning ... I probably owe Chris Baker a few drinks, I'd say. I was the last man in at Huntsville; he dropped out last-second, and I took advantage of it ... Today was basically the same as yesterday in Huntsville. It's blowing 20-25 (mph) ... just riding the wave right now."

    Dreams are possible

    Michael Sweeney had a week for the ages in Huntsville. Sweeney survived a 5-for-2 playoff at the Monday qualifier to earn a tee time at The Ledges. Sweeney also made eagle on the last hole of regulation to get into the playoff. Sweeney is from Enfield, Connecticut, and moved to Florida five years ago to pursue his dream of playing on the PGA TOUR.

    His game was “really bad” then, he said, and the deal was to stay with his father and father’s girlfriend while chasing his professional golf career. The challenge he put on himself was that once he turned 25, he would have to go out on his own.

    Well, two years ago, he turned 25, left the house and lived out of his car for a four-month stretch. He didn’t have much money and wanted to spend what he did have on golf, not on rent.

    “I’m capable of doing just about anything I want to do and having a positive attitude toward it,” Sweeney said. “Because if you can stay positive doing that (living out of a car), then you can stay positive doing just about anything.”

    Sweeney’s parking lot of choice was Walmart. “My whole life was in the backseat and here we are,” he said.

    There’s still much more to Sweeney’s story. He works in the cart barn at The Florida Club in Stuart, Florida, and the club provides him with complimentary range time. He also loves to rap, having first tried it back in Connecticut in a friend’s makeshift recording studio. He was instantly hooked and has since joined with his buddy, who goes by Mackel, to make music. Together they have three albums on Spotify.

    “Go have fun, enjoy the experience,” he said. “I know that regardless of whether I play well or bad, there are a lot of people that love me and support me.”

    Grace Vroom and Jay Coffin contributed reporting

    Michael Sweeney lived in car to pursue professional golf dreams

    Iron sharpens iron

    Ben Silverman has been on an absolute tear this season, after earning his third top-three finish of the season in Huntsville. Silverman finished runner up to Kohles on the second playoff hole at The Ledges, after the Canadian made a double bogey on the final hole of regulation to give Kohles a chance in extra holes, as both players finished 13 under for the fog-shortened 54-hole event. Silverman moves to No. 2 on the Korn Ferry Tour Points List, behind only Kohles.

    Kohles has made seven cuts in nine starts this season, with four top-10s including two wins, while Silverman has notched three top-10s in six starts including a victory at The Bahamas Great Abaco Classic at The Abaco Club. Expect these two veteran professionals to be going neck-and-neck for the top spot as the season unfolds.

    Playoff coverage: Ben Kohles wins HomeTown Lenders Championship

    Rookie sensation strikes again

    Korn Ferry Tour rookie Frankie Capan III notched a season-best finish last week, carding 12-under 198 for a T3 finish at The Ledges, just one back of the Kohles-Silverman playoff.. Capan made his hay with a bogey-free 64 in the second round, and he kept the pedal down with a closing 66 in the fog-shortened 54-hole event. It also marks Capan’s first top-10 of the season in his eighth start. Capan, 23, moves to No. 33 on the Korn Ferry Tour Points List as he looks to continue to move up the standings for a PGA TOUR card at the end of the year.

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