Five players on bubble watch into Utah Championship
August 02, 2022
By Will Doctor , PGATOUR.COM
- August 02, 2022
- Two events remain in the 2022 Korn Ferry Tour Regular Season, with TOUR cards and Finals berths on the line. (Design by Elise Tallent/PGA TOUR)
As the Korn Ferry Tour descends upon Salt Lake City for this week’s Utah Championship presented by Zions Bank, the heat is on.
A pair of events remain in the 2022 Korn Ferry Tour Regular Season, and players on the bubble of the top 25 or top 75 on the Regular Season Points List are pushing the panic button.
Veterans familiar with this position try to channel their past experiences to elevate their game. A rookie’s attention to routine and superstition has never been greater. With 25 PGA TOUR cards to be awarded at the end of the Korn Ferry Tour Regular Season, many members are one win away from catapulting inside the magic number.
Two weeks ago, David Kocher jumped from No. 114 to No. 30 after rounds of 63-66-65-66 to win the Price Cutter Charity Championship presented by Dr Pepper. Kocher, a four-year pro out of the University of Maryland, did not previously have a top-10 finish in 2022. His last victory before the Price Cutter came in 2020 at the El Bosque Mexico Championship by INNOVA, where he beat now-PGA TOUR members Paul Barjon and Chad Ramey in a playoff.
Following this week's Utah Championship presented by Zions Bank, the Korn Ferry Tour will motor to the Pinnacle Bank Championship presented by Aetna in Omaha, Nebraska for the Regular Season finale.
Kevin Yu, the 23-year-old PGA TOUR University alum out of Arizona State, finished T2 at the Price Cutter Charity Championship and moved from No. 32 to No. 18, onto the verge of his first TOUR card.
Moving down the Points List, another critical benchmark exists at No. 75. Upon the conclusion of the Pinnacle Bank Championship, the top 75 will gain entry into the three-event Korn Ferry Tour Finals, with another opportunity to earn a TOUR card via The Finals 25.
Sam Saunders, former PGA TOUR member and grandson of Arnold Palmer, moved from No. 95 to No. 74 after a T8 finish at the Price Cutter Charity Championship. Saunders will need to remain inside No. 75 on the points list to advance to the Finals.
Players who finish the Regular Season inside the top 75 also secure full Korn Ferry Tour status for 2023. Players No. 76-85 gain direct entry to Final Stage of Q-School; No. 86-100 advance directly to Second Stage.
Here's a look at five players on the bubble with two events remaining in the 2022 Korn Ferry Tour Regular Season.
Brent Grant (No. 23)
After Grant won his first Korn Ferry Tour title at the Simmons Bank Open for the Snedeker Foundation in early May, few would imagine a scenario where he wouldn't finish in the year inside The 25.
In addition to that victory, Grant has notched four top-25 finishes and has made cuts in 52% of his starts in 2022. However, Grant has missed four cuts in his last five events and barely lingers inside The 25.
"I'm right on the bubble and haven't played my best golf over the last month," Grant said. "We're trending in the right direction concerning my golf game. My goal from the very beginning has always been to get to 1,000 points. If I can finish with 1,000 points in Omaha, that gets it done."
The good news for Grant is he returns to Oakridge Country Club this week, a course on which he fired four rounds of 68 or better to finish T8 in last year's edition of the Utah Championship.
"It's about focusing on the process and taking what I've learned at these tournaments over the last few years and applying it the best I can,” he said.
"There's always going to be a camera like this behind me on the @PGATOUR."— Korn Ferry Tour (@KornFerryTour) August 2, 2022
Zooming in on Brent Grant. 🎥
He's embracing #KFTAllAccess with a @PGATOUR card within reach @UTChampionship. pic.twitter.com/ZJaREsutzT
Pierceson Coody (No. 32)
The 22-year-old phenom wasted no time taking advantage of his Korn Ferry Tour status earned through his No. 1 spot on the 2022 PGA TOUR University presented by Velocity Global Ranking.
After a MC in his Korn Ferry Tour debut at the BMW Charity Pro-Am presented by TD SYNNEX, Coody recorded a T4 finish at the Wichita Open Benefitting KU Wichita Pediatrics. The following week, Coody, grandson of 1971 Masters Tournament winner Charles Coody, earned his first professional win at the Live and Work in Maine Open.
A week after that win, Coody finished T30 at The Ascendant presented by Blue and went from being unranked to No. 28 on the Points List over a three-week stretch.
Since The Ascendant, the rookie from Plano, Texas has missed two consecutive cuts at the Memorial Health Championship presented by LRS and Price Cutter Charity Championship. Coody is now No. 32 on the points list and trails Harrison Endycott (No. 25) by 81.31 points.
"The biggest thing I've learned is the small margins it takes to have a great week versus not playing the weekend," Coody said. "There is still a lot to learn about professional golf, but the win (in Maine) taught me that my good golf is good enough. I will continue to focus on becoming a better professional."
The key for Coody this week will be to take advantage of his dominant combination of long drives (312.3-yard average) and precise iron play (70.37% GIR) in the Utah altitude.
"Starting the summer, my goal was to win and play with that mindset,” he said. “I believe that's what it will take. This summer has been an incredible opportunity, and I plan to make the most of it with a good mindset and see where things end up in two weeks.”
Akshay Bhatia (No. 33)
After Bhatia's win at The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay to begin the season, many experts thought the floodgates of titles would open for the 20-year-old out of Los Angeles, California.
That's been far from the case, as Bhatia has notched only two top-25 finishes since his lone title. He enters the Utah Championship having missed five cuts in his last six starts and has fallen to No. 33 on the Points List.
Anxious to earn his first card on the PGA TOUR, on which he has made four cuts in 18 starts between 2018-21, Bhatia will need a strong finish to the Regular Season to avoid relying on the Korn Ferry Tour Finals to earn a TOUR card. He sits 89.11 points behind Harrison Endycott (No. 25).
Zack Fischer (No. 39)
The 31-year-old from Texarkana, Texas is enjoying his best Korn Ferry Tour season since 2016 with 11 made cuts in 18 starts.
Since the BMW Charity Pro-Am in mid-June, Fischer has had two top-10 finishes in his last five starts.
The key to Fischer's steady play this year has been on the greens. He ranks No. 4 on the Korn Ferry Tour in putting average.
Fischer, a University of Texas-Arlington alum, returns to the Beehive State with great memories and expectations, having finished T3 at the 2015 Utah Championship. Although the event was played at a different golf course that year, it showed Fischer has a solid feel for golf at high altitudes.
Fischer sits 150 points behind Harrison Endycott (No. 25) and will need to end the season with consecutive finishes comparable to his success at the Price Cutter Charity Championship (solo sixth) to have a chance at a PGA TOUR card in Omaha.
Tain Lee (No. 70)
After making cuts in three of four PGA TOUR events in 2020-21, Lee seemed poised to return to the big stage through the 2022 Korn Ferry Tour.
The results have been a mixed bag for Lee, as he has made 11 cuts in 21 starts with two top-10 finishes. But since consecutive top-15 finishes at the Visit Knoxville Open and AdventHealth Championship in May, Lee's ranking on the Points List has dropped from No. 40 to No. 70. His best finish in his past eight starts: a pair of T52s at the REX Hospital Open and Live and Work in Maine Open.
The key for Lee over the last two Regular Season events will be to remain inside No. 75 on the Points List and give himself a chance at a PGA TOUR card via the Korn Ferry Tour Finals.
Oakridge Country Club will be a fitting track for Lee, who ranks 31st in driving accuracy, to show off his consistent driving ability and steady the sails on a season filled with ebbs and flows.
Lee remains 15 points ahead of Vince India (No. 75).