JACKSON, Miss. – Winning the U.S. Amateur after being 2 down with two holes remaining. Earning PGA TOUR status after taking an overnight flight to a Monday qualifier.
Doc Redman has shown a knack for finding success in improbable situations. If he were a football coach, he’d probably heed the number crunchers’ advice and go for it on 4th and 3.
Two years ago, the Clemson product finished eagle-birdie to force extra holes in the final match of the U.S. Amateur. He hoisted the Havemeyer Trophy with a conceded birdie on the first extra hole.
Now Redman is a PGA TOUR member less than a year after failing to advance out of the second stage of the Korn Ferry Tour’s Q-School. While missing out at Q-School can delay a player’s path to the PGA TOUR by a year or more, Redman earned TOUR status in an uncommon way: with a second-place finish in this summer’s Rocket Mortgage Classic after shooting a 62 to Monday qualify for the event.
“I think it’s just the mindset I have,” Redman said Wednesday in the locker room at the Country Club of Jackson. “Just staying positive and optimistic and not getting ahead of myself, trying to do the best I can on every shot and living with the outcome.”
He arrived at the Sanderson Farms Championship after finishing T24 at last week’s A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier.
Redman didn’t cash his first check of the year in a PGA TOUR-sanctioned event until May. He made just one start apiece on PGA TOUR Latinoamerica and the Korn Ferry Tour in the first four months of 2019, missing the cut in both. He parlayed a sponsor exemption into the Wells Fargo Championship in his home state of North Carolina into an 18th-place finish.
His season on the Mackenzie Tour-PGA TOUR Canada began later that month. He was sixth on the Order of Merit when the TOUR headed for an off week in late June. His good finish at the Wells Fargo put the top 200 in the FedExCup points list, and a berth in the Korn Ferry Tour Finals, within reach. That inspired him to play a Monday qualifier on the PGA TOUR during the off week.
After shooting a final-round 69 at the Lethbridge Open, Redman flew overnight to Detroit to try and play his way into the Rocket Mortgage Classic. The trip included a two-hour drive to Calgary, a flight to Seattle and then a red-eye to Detroit. He landed around 6 a.m., grabbed breakfast at Panera and then shot 62 in the qualifier.
He shot a first-round 68 in the tournament, then closed with three consecutive 67s to finish second to Nate Lashley. The 21-year-old holed a 5-foot par putt on the final hole to finish alone in second place.
Doc Redman holes out from 140 yards at Quicken Loans
Redman’s strong finish came in the midst of a summer where young players starred. Matthew Wolff and Collin Morikawa won weeks after turning pro, while Viktor Hovland established himself as a consistent contender. Redman enjoyed a strong amateur career, including that U.S. Amateur win and a spot on the 2017 Walker Cup team, but he’s accustomed to being overlooked. It doesn’t bother him. He sees it as an impetus for improvement.
“I need to keep getting more consistent and my best golf has to get a little bit better,” he said. “I’ve never really been the best but I’ve been pretty good, but there’s a lot of time. I’ve always said there’s no reason to be the best 18-year-old in the world. I want to be the best 30-year-old in the world. I have a lot of time to do that and have to just keep getting better.”
Course management and his mental game are his strengths, Redman said, as well as his putter. He’s trying to improve his iron play and chipping.
This is his first full year as a professional. He turned pro in the middle of 2018, after two seasons at Clemson, to take advantage of exemptions he earned by virtue of his U.S. Amateur victory. He missed the cut in five of his first seven starts as a pro, then failed to advance out of the second stage of the Korn Ferry Tour Q-School.
“Everyone’s journey is different,” Redman said. “You don’t have to look very far for instances, even out here, of people who struggled early on. The great thing about golf is you don’t have to be on TOUR at my age (21) or even 24. It’s great, but there’s a lot of guys who really started having success in their 30s. It’s just about getting better.”
More and more guys are making the PGA TOUR at a younger age, though. He’s one of a half-dozen players from the 2017 U.S. Walker Cup team who earned PGA TOUR status before the following Walker Cup. That’s out of nine members of that team who turned pro (Stewart Hagestad remained amateur and is currently in the semifinals of the U.S. Mid-Amateur).
Two members of that 2017 team –Morikawa and the Sanderson Farms’ defending champion, Cameron Champ – already have PGA TOUR wins. Scottie Scheffler, Doug Ghim and Maverick McNealy graduated from the Korn Ferry Tour this year. That team routed Great Britain & Ireland, 19-7, two years ago at Los Angeles Country Club.
Redman earned his spot on that team with his remarkable finish to the U.S. Amateur at Riviera. He holed a downhill, 60-foot eagle putt on 17, then made a 10-foot birdie putt on 18, which annually ranks as one of the PGA TOUR’s most difficult finishing holes.
“It was do or die for him, and he did it,” said Ghim, his opponent that day.
Redman said, “It was about never giving up and believing in myself. You never know what can happen.”
That self-belief has led him all the way to the PGA TOUR.