Perseverance leads Kevin Roy from medical sales to Korn Ferry Tour status
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Written by Adam Stanley @adam_stanley
The year after Kevin Roy played a season on PGA TOUR Latinoamerica – “horrible,” he described his play – he took up a job in medical sales alongside his brother. Golf was done. He was done. He got dressed and went into doctors’ offices to try and hawk a few products, and that was it.
But it couldn’t have been it, right?
Those times through the winter in Syracuse before getting recruited to the University of Hartford – before the coach resigned and relocated to Long Beach State in California, where Roy had never been before, and offered him a full ride out west instead – couldn’t have resulted in a lifetime in medical sales.
So he got back to it, and for the first time, he earned guaranteed starts on the Korn Ferry Tour – and notched a T19 result in the first event of the season, to boot.
Roy, 29, grew up playing other sports in upstate New York (basketball was probably his best one, he said) but always had a natural ability with golf. His father, Jim, played on the PGA TOUR and PGA TOUR Champions, so there was golf in his blood. He went to a rival high school of Dan McCarthy, a Korn Ferry Tour winner, but they were members at the same club when McCarthy would spend his summers in Syracuse. “A good kid,” McCarthy said of Roy.
Roy had a “pretty good” junior career, but he never got the opportunity to play in the bigger AJGA events, or the big amateur events that “all these studs” got to play in, he said. He didn’t get a ton of recruiting interest, but his father reached out to University of Hartford coach Bill Poutré since he had some insights to the conference.
Roy visited the school and liked it, and the coach. The facilities were good. There was a spot to hit balls indoors and get in some solid practice in the winter. He was set to go.
The coach had other ideas. Poutré, four months before school started, called Roy to say he had resigned and took a job at Long Beach State. But the scholarship offer for him to come west was on the table.
“At first it was a little shocking,” Roy said. “(Poutré) drove up to my graduation party and basically convinced my mom it was going to be OK that I’d go to Long Beach State. My mom got his trust right away and I went out there for a visit and the rest is history.”
Poutré said he was immediately drawn to Roy and his quiet confidence. He loved bringing athletes from the northeastern United States to play in California, he said, because they were tougher. The Californian golfers were more polished early – they had likely been playing 12 months per year for nearly 10 years at that point – but the guys like Roy who played half the year and played in snow and ‘junk’ conditions, Poutré said, had a tough mentality.
“Kevin’s a winner, plain and simple,” said Poutré, who is now the senior vice president at Main Street Bank in Massachusetts but remains in constant contact with Roy and his family. “There are not that many Division I golf programs in Syracuse. There are just two seasons – Fourth of July and winter.”
In his senior year, Roy notched six top-10 finishes to conclude his college career on a high note. He ended up having two other coaches in the four years he was at Long Beach – Poutré left after one season to be closer to his family, who didn’t like it in California – but it was a decision he was happy with.
“I started winning some events in the upstate New York area when I was 16 or 18 and I was (taking golf) seriously. Going to Long Beach really helped my game. I could play year-round and the competition out there was far better than in upstate New York,” Roy said.
“Between my sophomore and junior year, I said, ‘You know what …’ I saw myself getting better and better and after I graduated I thought, ‘Why not give it a shot?’”
Roy made it to Final Stage of Korn Ferry Tour Q-School in 2018 but finished four shots outside the qualifying number. He only got into seven events in 2019 and missed six cuts due to how odd his schedule was.
“It was just strange for me,” he said. “I wasn’t finding out I was in the events until like, Tuesday, sometimes even Wednesday morning. I was one of those guys who was just trying to find a flight and sometimes not having a practice round, or just playing nine holes.
“Even on Mondays I would be 13 (players) out and Tuesday night I’d get a phone call (saying) ‘You’re the second or first alternate’ and you start looking at flights, then Wednesday morning they tell you you’re in – it was definitely a lot. And the only word I could think of was ‘weird’ but it was a great learning experience as well.”
He came back for Q-School in 2019 and zipped through First and Second Stages before finished T21 at Final Stage, earning guaranteed starts for the first time, after going 66-65 on the weekend.
His T19 finish at the season-opening Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay will be helpful for Roy and his status on the Regular Season Points List, and it’s a far cry from how he was feeling just a couple of years ago.
“Quite frankly, I didn’t really like to play,” he said of the end of his final season before taking a year off. “I had all my friends and family pushing me to give golf another shot. They said I had the talent. I just had to give it another shot, and the rest has been history. I realized golf is where I really wanted to be.”