University of Georgia alum Sepp Straka wins KC Golf Classic
August 05, 2018
By Royce Thompson, PGATOUR.COM
- August 05, 2018
- Sepp Straka recorded his first top-25 of the season with a victory at the Nicklaus GC at LionsGate, jumping 101 spots on the money list. (Stephen Andress/PGA TOUR)
OVERLAND PARK, Kan. – Sepp Straka entered the week No. 130 on the Web.com Tour Regular Season money list, in danger of losing his status for next season. The 25-year-old from Vienna, Austria had missed eight cuts in 19 starts and signed up for the Web.com Tour Qualifying Tournament in anticipation of the inevitable. Players that finish outside the top 100 on the money list have no status on Tour the following season.
“It was definitely a reality that I had a good chance of going back there,” said Straka. “I just had to keep sticking with it. You never know what can happen on this Tour. One tournament can change your whole year.”
With his future in question, Straka never strayed from the plan. The former University of Georgia Bulldog trusted the process and won the KC Golf Classic by one stroke over Kyle Jones.
“It’s awesome,” said Straka, who moved to No. 29 on the money list with his victory. “The season hadn’t been good. I felt like I was playing good golf but struggled with my putting halfway through the season and got that straightened out.
“The last three cuts I missed, I felt like I was playing good golf; just wasn’t getting the results I wanted,” he continued. “I knew I was pretty close to playing good golf and just stuck with it. I had a lot of encouragement from my family and friends. Without them, I definitely couldn’t have done it.”
Two-time Web.com Tour winner Brice Garnett, who also won the 2018 Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship on the PGA TOUR this season, offered words of encouragement throughout this tough season. Garnett and Straka play golf together in Valdosta, Georgia all the time when they are home and have become extremely close. Fans in the gallery were even keeping Garnett, who is from nearby Gallatin, informed on how Straka was playing.
“He has been texting me throughout the year, just telling me to stick with it and keep believing,” said Straka, when asked about Garnett.
The line between winning and missing the cut is thin. Straka believed he was close to playing good golf and the results would come if he stayed patient. His perseverance paid off in Overland Park and now Straka can set his sights on trying to earn his PGA TOUR card.
“This win is huge,” he said. “It gives me a chance to take advantage of the next two events, but I need to take it one tournament at a time.”
Straka attended college in Athens and comes from a traditional powerhouse known for churning out some of the best professional golfers the game has seen. The University of Georgia breeds excellence inside the ropes. With players like Rex Hospital Open champion Joey Garber and Web.com Tour Qualifying Tournament medalist Lee McCoy coming out, it’s no secret their alumni enjoy success after school. Straka believes his alma mater prepared him for life as a touring professional.
“The system they have there is great,” said Straka, when asked why UGA has so many players on the Web.com Tour and PGA TOUR. “Every tournament we played, you had to qualify for. I think it really just prepares you to stay competitive. You have to qualify for every event. There are a lot of good players there; you’re never safe, no matter how good you’re playing.”
This week, the PGA TOUR paid tribute to Jarrod Lyle, who decided to end his treatment for leukemia, by wearing yellow ribbons on their hats. Lyle graduated from the Web.com Tour twice in his professional golf career, winning two times in 2008. His courageous fight inspires people all over the world, including Straka, who doesn’t know Lyle but was moved by his story.
“I went to dinner with Curtis Luck on Monday, and he talked about how much Jarrod meant to him and his life,” said Straka. “He has touched a lot of people out here. It’s just a sad story.”