Scheffler earns fully exempt PGA TOUR status
September 03, 2019
By Adam Stanley, PGATOUR.COM
- Scottie Scheffler earned the most cumulative Korn Ferry Tour Points during the 27-event season and three-event Finals. (Ben Jared/PGA TOUR)
After the three-tournament stretch at this year’s Korn Ferry Tour Finals, 25 PGA TOUR cards were handed out.
Emotions ran high, careers were altered, and dreams were fulfilled.
With the 2019 Korn Ferry Tour season now officially completed – and the 2019-2020 PGA TOUR season still a week away – we look back on the Korn Ferry Tour Finals with five key takeaways.
Scheffler Shuffles to the Top
Scottie Scheffler had one of the most consistent Regular Seasons on the Korn Ferry Tour in recent memory, and he continued that fine play through the Korn Ferry Tour Finals.
And, he was rewarded handsomely for that play.
Scheffler had nine top-10 finishes during the Regular Season, including a win at the Evans Scholars Invitational, eventually finishing third on the Regular Season Points List.
After winning the first Korn Ferry Tour Finals event, the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship, he parlayed that effort into a T11 in Boise and a T7 at the Korn Ferry Tour Championship presented by United Leasing & Finance.
Thanks to those three results, Scheffler captured both The Finals 25 Points List and the combined (The 25) Points List.
With that, the University of Texas alum will be fully exempt on the 2019-20 PGA TOUR, and he’ll earn a spot in the 2020 PLAYERS Championship.
He became the first player since Chesson Hadley in 2017 to top both lists.
The Waiting is the Hardest Part
For Chris Baker, all he needed was some hometown love in order to achieve a longtime dream.
Baker, an Indiana native, earned a PGA TOUR card for the first time in his decade-plus as a professional golfer thanks to a T4 result at the Korn Ferry Tour Championship.
The 33-year-old had six top-10 finishes during the Regular Season, but missed the cut at the finale in Portland to eventually finish 26th on The 25. He was 43 points behind Vincent Whaley at No. 25.
Baker missed the cut at the first Finals event, finished T37 in Boise, and needed a solid week at the Korn Ferry Tour Championship to get into The Finals 25 and earn a TOUR card.
He played better than solid.
Baker held the first-round lead after a 63. He stumbled Saturday with a 73, but a visit earlier in the week to his childhood home and course provided inspiration. He shot a 2-under-par 70 on Sunday at Victoria National – about two-and-a-half hours from his hometown – to earn his first TOUR card.
It was enough. The waiting was worth it.
While young college stars have already made an impact on the PGA TOUR, there is still something to be said for experience – which was proved again Monday at the Korn Ferry Tour Championship.
Out of the 25 players who earned a TOUR card via the Korn Ferry Tour Finals, 20 had prior PGA TOUR experience – including TOUR winners Brendon Todd, Grayson Murray, Robert Streb and D.J. Trahan.
Forty-five-year-old Cameron Percy was the eldest of any qualifier via the Korn Ferry Tour Finals. Percy turned professional in 1998, less than six months after Viktor Hovland (the youngest of any qualifier, at 21) was born.
A First Time For Everything
Five players earned PGA TOUR status for the first time via the Korn Ferry Tour Finals, including Korn Ferry Tour Championship winner Tom Lewis.
• Matthew NeSmith: The winner in Boise topped The Finals 25 Points List thanks to his victory and a T45 in Columbus. Although he missed the cut at the Korn Ferry Tour Championship, the University of South Carolina alum earned his first TOUR card. (Due to Scheffler earning the most Finals Points, though, NeSmith does not earn fully exempt TOUR status.)
• Tom Lewis: The Englishman didn’t even think about coming to the U.S. for the Korn Ferry Tour Championship until the last minute, but it paid off big-time. Lewis won the season finale by five. He earned enough points to get into the Korn Ferry Tour Finals thanks to two solid World Golf Championships results and a T11 at The Open Championship.
• Viktor Hovland: The oft-celebrated youngster didn’t break through for a win like his fellow collegiate sensations Matthew Wolff or Collin Morikawa in 2019, but he earned enough points to make it to the Korn Ferry Tour Finals in his brief PGA TOUR stint this summer. He finished sixth on The Finals 25 thanks to T11-T2 finishes in the first two Finals events.
• Chris Baker: The Korn Ferry Tour veteran finished 15th on The Finals 25 thanks to a T4 at the Korn Ferry Tour Championship. It’ll be the first TOUR card for the 33-year-old.
• Doug Ghim: One of the longest-lasting images from the Korn Ferry Tour Championship will be Ghim’s emphatic fist pump on the 72nd hole and resulting emotional break. Ghim, a star at college and as an amateur, finished 23rd on The Finals 25 after going T23-T37-T19. The approximate 10-foot par save by Ghim on the difficult 18th hole at Victoria National earned him a PGA TOUR card.
Tie One On
For the first time, there was a tie at the bottom of The Finals 25, but in this case a tie goes to both – and the reward was a PGA TOUR card.
Both Richy Werenski and D.J. Trahan finished the Korn Ferry Tour Finals with 186 points and were tied for 24th.
Justin Harding, who had started the week at 13th on The Finals 25 but missed the cut at Victoria National, had his fate in the hands of the final two groups on the course Monday.
Lanto Griffin double-bogeyed the par-4 17th, while Grayson Murray bogeyed the par-4 18th, which moved Trahan and Werenski past Harding. When Griffin’s birdie putt on the 72nd hole lipped out, it was confirmed: Harding missed the 25th spot by 0.125 points.
Werenski finished 126th on the 2018-19 FedExCup standings and was once again on the bubble. His T7 finish in Indiana was enough.
Trahan, meanwhile, made a clutch birdie on the 72nd hole at Victoria National to also finish T7.
Not only were Werenski and Trahan tied on the leaderboard, but they finished tied on The Finals 25 as well – TOUR cards for them both.