Finals update: See who's fighting to advance to Korn Ferry Tour Championship
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Scenarios into Sunday at Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship
Written by Kevin Prise @PGATOURKevin
COLUMBUS, Ohio – How will Patrick Welch prepare for the biggest round of his professional golf career?
He’ll play some video games. Watch some football. Call his mom.
With the stakes as high as they come into the final round of the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship, the recent University of Oklahoma graduate intends to keep things as light as he can. Welch, who earned Korn Ferry Tour membership this summer as No. 8 on the PGA TOUR University Ranking, made 10 cuts in 12 starts – highlighted by a T3 at last month’s Magnit Championship – to comfortably earn a spot in this week’s field at The Ohio State University Golf Club (Scarlet Course). But he’s not done yet.
Welch, who entered the week at No. 79 on the Korn Ferry Tour Points List, stands T20 through three rounds in central Ohio. He’s projected No. 72 on the Points List – the top 75 after Sunday will advance to the season-ending Korn Ferry Tour Championship presented by United Leasing & Finance and cement full 2024 Korn Ferry Tour status. Thirty PGA TOUR cards will be awarded after the Korn Ferry Tour Championship.
There’s a lot on the line, and Welch looks forward to channeling the energy from qualifying rounds as a member of a highly competitive University of Oklahoma golf team, as he readies for another type of qualifying scenario on Sunday.
Welch isn’t alone in looking to extend his season Sunday in Columbus. The top-75 bubble is closely contested, with Joey Garber projected No. 75 into the final round at the Scarlet Course. Garber is no stranger to the bubble, having missed a TOUR card at last year’s Korn Ferry Tour Championship by the slimmest of margins – needing a three-way T12 to earn his card, he finished in a five-way T12.
Garber entered the week at No. 83 on the Points List, and he stands T20 into Sunday at the Nationwide with scores of 68-75-70. He’s projected to earn the final spot at the Korn Ferry Tour Championship by less than two points over No. 76 Daniel Summerhays.
The margins are thin, meaning we’re in for a chaos-filled Sunday in central Ohio. Here’s a look at how the top-75 bubble projects into the final round of the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship, with players’ position this week and projected point totals:
71. Fabian Gomez (MC), 360.138 points
72. Patrick Welch (T20), 357.188 points
73. John Augenstein (T70), 348.187 points
74. Brian Campbell (MC), 347.517 points
75. Joey Garber (T20), 341.823 points
76. Daniel Summerhays (T33), 339.698 points
77. Brandon Crick (T28), 337.18 points
78. Michael Johnson (MC), 336.5 points
79. Nelson Ledesma (MC), 334.913 points
80. Jack Maguire (MC), 334.674 points
Chandler Phillips and Norman Xiong share the lead at 6-under 207 on a firm, fast Scarlet Course.
Phillips carded a 2-under 69 in Saturday’s third round, reflecting afterward that it was probably one of his best rounds of the season. The Texas A&M alum won the Korn Ferry Tour’s season-opening Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay, and he entered the week at No. 14 on the Points List, on the verge of cementing his first PGA TOUR card via the top 30. He’s set to earn that #TOURBound designation on Sunday – he’d love to add a second title of the season, as well.
Xiong has traveled a parabolic road since turning pro from the University of Oregon in 2018, having earned that year’s Jack Nicklaus Award as the nation’s top collegiate golfer. Five years later, he’s on the verge of cementing his PGA TOUR dream in the land of Nicklaus. The 24-year-old Xiong has remained steady with rounds of 69-67-71 across three demanding days at the Scarlet Course, and he’ll chase his second Korn Ferry Tour title on Sunday. He won last year’s Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas Wichita Open as a Monday qualifier, kick-starting a run that has led him here. A win Sunday would bring his first #TOURBound designation.
Kris Ventura (entered week No. 104, projected No. 82): The two-time Korn Ferry Tour winner has experienced an up-and-down 2023 season, with just two top-25 finishes in 21 starts. Despite arriving in central Ohio on the heels of eight missed cuts in his last 10 starts, he has been playing this week like it’s 2019 (where he won twice in just 11 starts). The Oklahoma State alum has carded rounds of 69-70-71 and stands T6 into the final round. He’s currently projected two strokes shy of a top-75 position, certainly giving himself a chance to salvage his season with a strong Sunday.
Mitchell Meissner (entered week No. 108, projected No. 92): The Rice alum enters the final round in a tie for 15th, giving himself an outside chance at a Korn Ferry Tour Finals berth. Meissner, the brother of fellow Korn Ferry Tour pro Mac, has made just eight cuts in 24 starts this season, but this week does mark his fifth made cut in six starts. He needs an solo fifth at minimum for a chance at cracking the top 75 – his work is cut out for him on Sunday, which he’ll begin three strokes back of that target, but he has a realm.
William Mouw (entered week No. 105, projected No. 94): Mouw’s parents own and operate Billy’s Egg Farm in their hometown of Chico, California, and Mouw has demonstrated that inherited work ethic with feisty rounds of 71-69-73 into Sunday at the Scarlet Course. He’s T20 for the week, needing a two-way T5 at minimum for a chance to crack the top 75. He’s four strokes back of fifth place into Sunday.
The Korn Ferry Tour Finals features progressive field reductions after each event; the top 75 on the Korn Ferry Tour Points List after the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship will be eligible for the season-ending Korn Ferry Tour Championship presented by United Leasing & Finance. Thirty PGA TOUR cards will be awarded after the Korn Ferry Tour Championship.
The field for the Korn Ferry Tour Championship will not extend beyond the No. 75 player on the Points List (the field could hypothetically feature less than 75 players). This diverts from the structure for the first three Finals events, in which the Points List will extend to fill the field to the corresponding numbers of players (e.g., the field for the 120-player Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship extended to No. 122 Cooper Musselman, as two eligible players elected not to compete).
Here's a look at players around the top-75 bubble and how they have fared through three rounds at the Scarlet Course:
No. 71 Brian Campbell: MC, projected No. 74
No. 72 John Augenstein: T70, projected No. 73
No. 73 Brandon Harkins: T28, projected No. 70
No. 74 Michael Johnson: MC, projected No. 78
No. 75 Nelson Ledesma: MC, projected No. 79
No. 76 Jack Maguire: MC, projected No. 80
No. 77 Isaiah Salinda: MC, projected No. 81
No. 78 Daniel Summerhays: T33, projected No. 76
No. 79 Patrick Welch: T20, projected No. 72
No. 80 Zach Bauchou: T58, projected No. 83
There’s also significance around the No. 85 spot, as Nos. 61-85 on the final Korn Ferry Tour Points List are eligible to begin Q-School at Second Stage. Here’s a look at players around the No. 85 bubble and how they have fared through three rounds at the Scarlet Course:
No. 81 Brandon Crick: T28, projected No. 77
No. 82 Kyle Jones: MC, projected No. 86
No. 83 Joey Garber: T20, projected No. 75
No. 84 Daniel Miernicki: T33, projected No. 84
No. 85 Patrick Newcomb: MC, projected No. 88
No. 86 Peter Knade: MC, projected No. 89
No. 87 Colin Featherstone: T44, projected No. 91
No. 88 Brandon Hagy: MC, projected No. 93
No. 89 Alistair Docherty: T33, projected No. 87
No. 90 Dan McCarthy: T40, projected No. 90
There’s also significance around the No. 100 spot, as Nos. 76-100 on the final Korn Ferry Tour Points List retain conditional status at minimum for 2024. Players with conditional status can improve their position on the Priority Ranking (and potentially earn starts on their priority number) with any points accrued via cuts made.
Here’s a look at players around the No. 100 bubble and how they have fared through three rounds at the Scarlet Course:
No. 98 Alan Wagner: MC, projected No. 102
No. 99 T.J. Vogel: T40, projected No. 99
No. 100 Andrew Kozan, not competing, projected No. 103
No. 101 Patrick Flavin: MC, projected No. 104
No. 102 Brendon Jelley: MC, projected No. 105
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.