2020 Korn Ferry Tour season preview
January 03, 2020
By Adam Stanley, PGATOUR.COM
- Paul Barjon finished No. 1 on the Mackenzie Tour-PGA TOUR Canada money list. (Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
It’s a new year – a new decade, even – but just because the calendar has changed, it doesn’t mean the objectives of those teeing it up on the Korn Ferry Tour in 2020 will be any different than those who tried their hand 30 years ago when the Tour launched.
They want to get to the PGA TOUR.
Yes, 2020 marks the 30th anniversary of the Korn Ferry Tour (more on that later) and the season kicks off in less than two weeks in the Bahamas.
There will be drama. There will be thrilling finishes. There will be excitement and sadness and unbridled joy and anger.
But that’s golf, and that’s the Korn Ferry Tour.
Since 1990, the Korn Ferry Tour has offered players an opportunity to get a PGA TOUR card and compete on the biggest stage in the sport. But for all the exciting achievements and job promotion, there is also the finest of lines that still exists as just one shot, or a couple Points, may result in a player being left looking for answers come August.
Those who take advantage of their opportunities can look to the likes of Cameron Champ, Tyler Duncan, Corey Conners, Sebastian Munoz, and Lanto Griffin as inspiration – 2019 PGA TOUR winners, all, and recent Korn Ferry Tour alums.
So the year begins now. The season begins soon.
Here are a few things to watch for on the 2020 Korn Ferry Tour.
PEARLS ARE ALWAYS APPROPRIATE
The Korn Ferry Tour began at the Ben Hogan Bakersfield Open in February 1990. Won by Mike Springer at 7-under, history was made.
Springer would go on to win twice more that season and earn the final – of just five – PGA TOUR cards for the following year.
This year will mark the 30th Korn Ferry Tour season.
The 1990 Korn Ferry Tour season included a handful of names who would go on to become well-known for their PGA TOUR prowess, along with guys who, like Springer –now a successful insurance agent with Farmers – gave it their best shot but eventually pursued an alternative career path.
The Tour will once again return to its four original tournament stops for 2020, marking the 31st playing of the Albertsons Boise Open presented by Kraft Nabisco (Boise, Idaho), the Price Cutter Charity Championship presented by Dr Pepper (Springfield, Missouri), the Visit Knoxville Open (Knoxville, Tennessee), and the Wichita Open Supporting Wichita’s Youth (Wichita, Kansas).
It’s the pearl anniversary of the Korn Ferry Tour. Here’s to many more.
NEW FOR 2020
The 2020 Korn Ferry Tour schedule will feature 28 tournaments played in 20 states, and four countries outside the United States. The 28 events are the most since 2010 and there will be more than $18 million in total prize money, the largest figure available in over a decade.
“We are excited to launch our first full season with Korn Ferry as our umbrella partner,” Korn Ferry Tour President Alex Baldwin told PGA TOUR Digital in October. “Their dedication and investment in our players mirrors our efforts to continue growing the Korn Ferry Tour by offering a world-class tournament experience for our membership, partners and fans.”
Four new events have been added to the Korn Ferry Tour schedule for this year: Lake Charles Championship in Lake Charles, Louisiana; Veritex Bank Championship in Arlington, Texas; Huntsville Championship, in Huntsville, Alabama; and Live + Work in Maine Open in Falmouth, Maine.
Due to the devastation of Hurricane Dorian on Great Abaco in the Bahamas, that event will be now contested in Nassau, with all proceeds from the newly named The Bahamas Great Abaco Classic at Baha Mar going toward hurricane relief efforts.
For the second year in a row, the Korn Ferry Tour will have just three Korn Ferry Tour Finals events as the season wraps up in August.
There will be 11 straight weeks of competition (from mid-April to Fourth of July weekend) and then eight straight weeks to close out the season.
Last year’s three Finals winners all went on to earn their PGA TOUR cards (Matthew NeSmith, Scottie Scheffler, and Tom Lewis), with Scheffler’s victory eventually earning him Player of the Year honors.
The three Finals events (Albertsons Boise Open presented by Kraft Nabisco, Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship, and Korn Ferry Tour Championship presented by United Leasing & Finance) all remain at their same courses from 2019 and offer Tour-leading $1 million purses.
While there may be some heartbreak at the Regular Season-ending WinCo Foods Portland Open presented by KraftHeinz – for those who didn’t make it into The 25, those from Nos. 26-75 on the Regular Season Points List can still make it a year to remember via the dramatic three-event conclusion of the Korn Ferry Tour season.
This season, the first two Finals events will flip positions, as players will now proceed directly from Portland to Boise before heading east for the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship in Columbus, Ohio, and the Korn Ferry Tour Championship outside Evansville, Indiana.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
The Korn Ferry Tour counted down its Top 10 Players to Watch for 2020 in late December, but in case you missed it, here are some guys we’ve got our eyes on for this season …
Paul Barjon: Won twice on the Mackenzie Tour-PGA TOUR Canada to win Player of the Year honors. Finished No.1 on the money list.
Max McGreevy: Had a spectacular season on PGA TOUR Series-China and topped the Order of Merit after finishing top-25 in 12 of 13 starts.
Augusto Nunez: Won the Order of Merit on PGA TOUR Latinoamerica by more than $60,000 after winning twice and having two runner-up results.
Kevin Dougherty: Was named the Korn Ferry Tour’s No. 1 Player to Watch for 2020. For two consecutive seasons, Dougherty has had a strong chance to earn his PGA TOUR card (Portland in 2018; Korn Ferry Tour Championship in 2019) and he fell just short both times. Will he break through this year?
Charlie Saxon: The long-hitting Saxon was one of the top-10 players to watch for 2020. He had just two top-10 results in 2019, but his consistent play had him 40th on the Regular Season Points List.
Dan McCarthy: Won the Savannah Golf Championship and finished 31st on the Regular Season Points List.
THE NEXT WAVE
Ryan Ruffels: The 21-year-old finished seventh on the PGA TOUR Latinoamerica Order of Merit and notched guaranteed starts on the Korn Ferry Tour for the first time after finishing T21 at Final Stage.
John VanDerLaan: The 23-year-old was named the Jack Nicklaus Award winner in 2018 after winning the NCAA Division II individual championship. Earned guaranteed starts via Final Stage after finishing T7.
Taylor Pendrith: The 28-year-old played the Korn Ferry Tour four years ago but battled a myriad of injuries and has come all the way back. Won twice on the Mackenzie Tour last year (was second on the Order of Merit) and finished T30 at Final Stage.