FALMOUTH – Justin Lower knows exactly how close he and his colleagues are on the Korn Ferry Tour of the PGA Tour. He’s squeezed like strangers in a crowded elevator. In 2018, Lower had an 8-foot putt with a PGA Tour card on the line. He didn’t hit.
“Inch. It hit the hole, ”Lower said after completing his third round of the Live and Work in Maine Open at the Falmouth Country Club.
Lower is 26th in the Korn Ferry Tour rating participating in the tournament this weekend and the top 25 will receive PGA Tour tickets. This is his sixth season on the Korn Ferry Tour. He knows that close is not enough. If you’re at the Victoria National Golf Course in Newburgh, Indiana, 26th after the Tour Championship on the first weekend in September, you’ll be as far as 100th from the PGA Tour.
Lower shot a 4 under 67 on Saturday and put him under 6 for the tournament the day before the end. He is one of the few players who are either in the top 25 or hovering around them, who squeaked in the last two rounds with 2 under, right at the cutline.
The Saturday of a professional golf tournament is called the least important day in golf. For these players, moving day was a chance to continue their push towards the ultimate goal of leaving the Korn Ferry Tour behind in favor of a place on the PGA Tour.
“I think we all around 25 think about it, but at the end of the day we all just want to win,” said Dylan Wu, who is playing his second season on the Korn Ferry Tour. 24-year-old Wu is back on the Korn Ferry Tour after finishing 31st at the US Open last week. On Saturday he shot a 7-under 64. Wu barely made the cut on 18 holes, but fought for victory. With a total of 9 under, he is four strokes behind leader Chad Ramey.
“Playing at the US Open last week and playing well gave me a lot of confidence,” he said.
David Kocher is 25, his first full season on the Korn Ferry Tour and 33rd overall. On Saturday he probably shot the two best shots of the day. First, Kocher stabbed the fourth par-4 hole and hit a pitching wedge from 135 yards. Kocher’s shot made a few jumps and went inside.
On par 4 18, Kocher did it again, this time from 208 yards for his second eagle of the round.
“I had just missed a short birdie putt from about 3 feet to 17 and was pretty pissed off. I had a good ride out there (at 18) and had 208 (yards) in. I thought it was going to be a pretty good shot. It hit the green and rolled right into the hole. I couldn’t see it, but everyone was freaking out, ”said Kocher.
Kocher shot a 6-under 65 and put him on 8 for the tournament. There would be no point in thinking about where he stands in the overall standings during a round, he said, as it would waste the brain power it takes to focus on the task at hand.
“I’m thinking about the next shot, just stick to my approach. Me and my trainer and a lot of people around me. I’m close to the bubble, but stick with what I’m good at and stick with my process and hopefully that will be good enough in the end, “said Kocher.
Brandon Wu (not related to Dylan), who won the Korn Ferry Tour Championship last year and is on the tour in his first full season, ranks 11th overall. He’s not quite math for a PGA Tour card just yet, but he’s getting close. On Friday, he had to do a 6-foot putt on his final hole to make the cut.
“I can guarantee you will feel the same nerve as if you were taking a 6-foot win,” said Brandon Wu after shooting a 1-under-70 Saturday. “I actually feel that if I focus on doing my own thing and trying to play well, the points will be taken care of (by itself). I’m lucky to be in a good position, which is a little more comforting than maybe some of the other guys out here. “
Lower, Kocher, and Dylan Wu were also able to recite large shots from Friday, which allowed them to finish on the right side of the cut line.
“I screwed my last hole yesterday just to be here for the weekend. I’m just trying to grind it out. We don’t have many events anymore. It depends on that time, ”said Lower. “Hopefully do a good lap tomorrow, relax and hope for a good finish.”
Saturday’s 67 was Lower’s lowest round in the tournament to date, even with what he described as two sloppy bogeys. Down is close.
He also knows what comes close to him.
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