Finals update: See who extended their Korn Ferry Tour season in Boise
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RJ Manke cards final-round 64 at Albertsons, advances to next event
Written by Kevin Prise @PGATOURKevin
BOISE, Idaho – RJ Manke remembers a day as a college freshman at Pepperdine, meeting with coach Michael Beard after practice, as Beard encouraged him to watch how teammate Sahith Theegala approached pre-tournament preparation. The coach and others around the team had quickly recognized that Theegala and Manke both approached the game as feel-driven players, and Beard figured the freshman could learn from the rising-star junior.
Manke went out to the range, and there was Theegala, hitting shots left-handed.
“I’m like, ‘Coach, this guy hits balls left-handed out there; he’s just messing around,’” Manke remembered with a laugh. “But really, he’s just having as much fun as he can and trying to keep it light and keep it enjoyable. That’s what helps me play my best, is keeping things light.”
With his season on the line at the Albertsons Boise Open presented by Chevron, the first of four Korn Ferry Tour Finals events, Manke did just that. The Washington native carded a final-round, 7-under 64 at Hillcrest Country Club for a T18 finish, which moved him from No. 161 to No. 131 on the Korn Ferry Tour Points List.
The reimagined Korn Ferry Tour Finals format, new in 2023, features elevated point totals, increased purses and a progressive field reduction; the Albertsons Boise Open featured a 156-player field (which extended to No. 173 on the season-long standings, as 17 eligible players elected not to compete), and the second Finals event, the Simmons Bank Open for the Snedeker Foundation, will feature 144 players.
Manke, who played four years at Pepperdine before a fifth year at Washington, tries not to get in the weeds on how the numbers work, but he knew he entered Boise in a tenuous spot if he hoped to keep his season alive for another week. His recent form hadn’t suggested this result might be coming; he missed seven straight cuts before reshuffling down and failing to qualify for the final two events before the Albertsons.
But two weeks back home in Washington, perhaps, was perfect for Manke, who earned Korn Ferry Tour membership via the 2022 PGA TOUR University Ranking. He played eight or nine rounds of golf, he estimated, having fun on the course with buddies and also spending time with family and friends. “It was nice to be able to have that little reset,” he said, and he also changed up his tempo, realizing he had gotten “a little quick in the backswing.”
It coalesced in rounds of 66-67-70-64 in Boise, and after two more weeks back home, he’ll play on to Nashville for the second leg of the Finals. The top 120 after the Simmons Bank Open will advance to the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship; the top 75 after the Nationwide will cement full 2024 Korn Ferry Tour membership and advance to the Korn Ferry Tour Championship presented by United Leasing & Finance. The top 30 after the Korn Ferry Tour Championship will earn 2024 PGA TOUR membership.
It's a lot of numbers, and Manke doesn’t necessarily want to know them all. But he does know one thing – he’s proud of his performance under pressure in Boise. Safe to say his teammate Theegala is, as well.
“It’s definitely nice to know that I succeeded in getting a tee time at the next tournament,” Manke said on Sunday afternoon. “I didn’t know a ton about where I fell exactly; I just knew I had barely got into this tournament and wasn’t in the right spot to get into the next one. I didn’t put a whole lot of thought into it, but it feels good to know that I achieved something that I’ve worked toward. It’s not too often that you achieve a goal in golf; it can be a lot of failure, so it feels good.”
Chan Kim (moves from No. 12 to No. 2 on Points List): Not only is Chan Kim known as Mr. Worldwide in professional golf circles, he’s now known as a back-to-back Korn Ferry Tour winner. After moving inside the top 30 on the Points list with a victory at the prior week’s Magnit Championship in New Jersey, Kim shot 28 under at Hillcrest CC for a two-stroke win over David Kocher.
Kim, an eight-time Japan Golf Tour winner, moves to No. 2 on the Points List behind only Ben Kohles and comfortably secures his first PGA TOUR card for 2024. He now trails Kohles by just 146 points for the top spot on the season-long standings; No. 1 after the Korn Ferry Tour Championship will earn fully exempt PGA TOUR status in 2024, along with a spot in next year’s U.S. Open and THE PLAYERS Championship.
Chan Kim wins at Albertsons Boise Open
David Kocher (moves from No. 82 to No. 43 on Points List): The University of Maryland alum put on a show Sunday in Boise, carding a final-round, 12-under 59 to surge to a solo second finish at 26 under, two back of Kim’s winning total. Kocher, a two-time Korn Ferry Tour winner, became the 10th player to break 60 on the Korn Ferry Tour, and he did it in front of his brother Daniel – who lives in Boise – and his mom Rachel who flew in Thursday evening.
Kocher made 10 birdies and an eagle Sunday, punctuated by a downhill 15-foot birdie at the finishing hole, to card golf’s magic number. He solidifies full 2024 Korn Ferry Tour status via the top 75 on the Points List, and with his job security no longer in question, he can now take aim at his first TOUR card.
David Kocher's highlights from final-round 59 at Albertsons Boise Open
Thomas Rosenmueller (moves from No. 104 to No. 61 on Points List): The 26-year-old German entered the week without a top-10 finish on the season, but his third-place showing in Boise could not have come at a better time. Rosenmueller carded weekend rounds of 64-63 in Boise to fly up the leaderboard – and up the Points List. He’s now well positioned to assure a full Korn Ferry Tour card for next season, and the PGA TOUR moves into the realm of possibility.
Rosenmueller embraced the vibes throughout the week in Boise, hitting balls from the stage before Sheryl Crow and Weezer concerts after play on Thursday and Saturday night, respectively, and he put on a show of his own – leading to his first top-10 finish in 42 career Korn Ferry Tour starts.
Wilson Furr (moves from No. 40 to No. 28): The University of Alabama alum took a few months to get into the flow of the Korn Ferry Tour season, finishing no better than T54 in his first eight starts, but he has heated up in the spring and summer months. Furr has notched four straight top-20 finishes, most recently a T6 in Boise that moves him inside the pivotal top 30 on the season-long Points List. With three events remaining, he’s primed to chase his first TOUR card.
Chris Naegel (moves from No. 138 to No. 121): The veteran has been playing like there’s no tomorrow, and he has continued to extend his season across the last month. After 10 consecutive missed cuts, he finished T16 at the Pinnacle Bank Championship (as a Monday qualifier) to earn a spot in the Magnit Championship, where he notched another T16 to cement a spot in the first Korn Ferry Tour Finals event. Naegel arrived in Boise at 138th on the season-long standings, hovering around the top-144 bubble to secure a spot in the Simmons Bank Open, and he placed T18 at the Albertsons to ensure that he’ll play on once again. Storybook stuff.
The Korn Ferry Tour Finals features progressive field reductions after each event, with the second Finals event – the Simmons Bank Open for the Snedeker Foundation – featuring a 144-player field filled directly off the season-long Points List.
Nos. 139-144 on the Points List all missed the cut in Boise, while six players outside the top 144 advanced to the weekend, with an eye on qualifying for the Simmons Bank Open.
RJ Manke and Vince Whaley moved inside the top 144 with strong play in Boise, cementing their spots at the Simmons Bank Open. Those outside the top 144 could still potentially qualify, based on how many eligible players choose not to compete.
Here’s a look at how these bubble players fared in Boise:
Willie Mack III (T65; moves from No. 146 to No. 148 on Points List)
Alex Weiss (74th; moves from No. 154 to No. 153)
RJ Manke (T18; moves from No. 161 to No. 131)
Joel Thelen (T35; moves from No. 162 to No. 151)
Vince Whaley (T6; moves from No. 166 to No. 119)
James Nicholas (T35; moves from No. 173 to No. 164)
For the first three Finals events, the Points List will extend to fill the field to the corresponding numbers of players (e.g., the field for the 156-player Albertsons Boise Open extended to No. 173 James Nicholas, as 17 eligible players elected not to compete).
Kevin Prise is an associate editor for the PGA TOUR. He is on a lifelong quest to break 80 on a course that exceeds 6,000 yards and to see the Buffalo Bills win a Super Bowl. Follow Kevin Prise on Twitter.