Korn Ferry Tour

Korn Ferry Tour Finals: Punching Their PGA Tour Cards

With PGA Tour cards up for grabs, these five players took full advantage in Boise

By Ryan French

It was just one year ago that Sahith Theegala came to the first event of the Korn Ferry Tour finals, unsure if he had earned enough points to get into the field. Upon arrival, he learned he had snuck in. Taking advantage of the opportunity, he earned his PGA Tour card for 2021-22. Now he is one of 30 players headed to the Tour Championship; he is exempt into the 2023 Masters and U.S. Open.

Who could be the next Sahith Theegala? On Sunday the first of three Korn Ferry Finals events concluded in Boise, Idaho. The field is made up primarily of players who finished 126th to 175th in FedEx Cup points on the PGA Tour and the top 75 players on the KFT regular-season points list. The 25 players who collect the most points in the three events will earn their PGA Tour card. (Another 25 players have already earned their cards through KFT regular-season play; they are in these fields as well, but only for seeding once all 50 cards have been awarded.)

The players below hope to follow in Theegala’s footsteps after earning (or virtually earning) their PGA Tour cards for next season on Sunday.

Will Gordon

Status: Card locked up 

Age: 26 

Turned pro: 2019 

College: Vanderbilt 

Career PGA Tour starts: 43

The skinny: After a decorated amateur career, Gordon (above) turned pro and took advantage of sponsor exemptions, parlaying his 11 starts in 2019 into membership for the 2020-21 Tour season. But Gordon struggled, finishing 159th in points and failed to retain his card in the KFT finals. This was his first full year on the Korn Ferry Tour, but despite four top-five finishes in his last eight events, he fell just short of the top 25. He carried over the momentum and won in Boise in a three-man playoff.

Philip Knowles

Status: Card locked up

Age: 25

Turned pro: 2019

College: North Florida

Career PGA Tour starts: 1

The skinny: The sting of bogeying the 72nd hole in Boise and then doubling the first playoff hole should wear off quickly for Knowles, knowing he has secured his Tour card. (MJ Daffue, the other playoff participant, finished in the top 25 in the regular season.) One year ago, Knowles was struggling through a streak of four consecutive missed cuts on the … Local IQ series (the U.S. version of the Canadian Tour during Covid-19). After earning a conditional KFT card in Q-school, Knowles struggled in his limited starts. Just six events ago, he sat 102nd in KFT points. He then made five consecutive cuts, including a T-10 in the final regular-season event, to move inside the top 75. 

Dean Burmester

Status: Card virtually locked up

Age: 33

Turned pro: 2010

College: N/A

Career PGA Tour starts: 12

The skinny: It’s no surprise to see Burmester play well. The eight-time Sunshine Tour and two-time European Tour winner has one of the more decorated resumes in the finals field. Ranked 72nd in the world, Burmester will now have the chance to play a full season on Tour. In his nine worldwide victories (one of his wins was a co-sanctioned event so it counts on both the Sunshine and Euro Tours), five have come by four strokes or more. He shot 65-64 on the weekend to move up to T-4.

Thomas Detry

Status: Card virtually locked up

Age: 26

Turned pro: 2016

College: Illinois

Career PGA Tour starts: 13

The skinny: The Belgian had a decorated amateur career, including Big Ten player of the year in 2015. After turning pro, he played on the Challenge Tour, winning in just his 10th start. His 12-shot margin of victory still stands as a Challenge Tour record. Although he had a few struggles since then, he has started to round into form and was solid on the European Tour this year. He is ranked 146th in the world. 

Scott Harrington

Status: Card virtually locked up

Age: 41

Turned pro: 2003

College: Northwestern

Career PGA Tour starts: 56

The skinny: This is one of the more inspiring stories in the game. It took Harrington 16 years to get his Tour card for the first time in 2019, his first year back after putting his career on hold to help his wife, Jenn, in her battle with cancer. Now after a season on the KFT, he’s headed back to the show. He struggled for most of this season, barely slipping into the finals after finishing 71st on the points list. Then he turned in a T-4 in Boise, missing the playoff by a shot during a week that was highlighted by a third-round 62.

1 thought on “Korn Ferry Tour Finals: Punching Their PGA Tour Cards”

  1. What does ‘virtually locked up’ mean? (I know, but I doubt many other readers do.) You should have explained that their finishes in Boise gave them enough points to (probably) make it into the 25.

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