Danny Lee – needs big weekend – photo Bruce Young
The final 36 holes of the Korn Ferry Tour Championship have proven to be heart-stopping in recent years, the final result often determining just who earns the right to play the PGA Tour next season.
This week is no different and just where two or three Australasians will ply their trade over the next 12 months will be determined by just how they perform over the final two rounds in Newburgh Indiana where the final event of the combined 2020/2021 Korn Ferry Tour season comes to an end.
Unfortunately for the Australasians involved, there is a lot of work to do if they are to secure the right to play the PGA Tour given to the leading 25 players at the completion of the three event Finals and not otherwise qualified through the regular season.
New Zealander Danny Lee and Greg Chalmers are doing the best of the down-under brigade this week, the pair in a share of 13th place with Lee a having a now projected standing of 33rd and Chalmers 40th in the race for one of the aforementioned 25 cards.
Six years ago, Lee was a good enough player to finish runner-up in the PGA Tour’s Tour Championship but he has struggled in 2021, failing to make the weekend in 14 of 20 starts on the PGA Tour and was forced to play the Korn Ferry Tour Finals in order to regain his PGA Tour status.
For him to do so, however, Lee will need further improvement over the weekend but his second round of 67 has lifted him off the canvas and kept the door open.
Chalmers missed the cut in the first two of the Korn Ferry Tour Finals and so needs something special this week. Like Lee, he too added a second round of 67 after his opening round of 73 had included a double and triple bogey in his homeward nine.
Chalmers has moved to a projected 40th place in the race for one of the cards so he also requires further improvement over the weekend, but he is not without hope.
Victorian Lucas Herbert is tied in 44th place this week, a position he shares with Lismore’s Rhein Gibson although Herbert is safe in the knowledge that his 4th place finish at the opening event of the Korn Ferry Tour Finals was nearly enough to secure one of the top 25 cards. He has slipped to a projected 17th and although safely on his way to the big time next season, a big weekend will help his standing amongst those cardholders.
Gibson has played the PGA Tour previously but after a slow start to the Finals he finds himself in a projected 57th place and will need a very strong weekend if he is to regain his playing privileges.
Aaron Baddeley is the only other Australasian to have made the cut and finds himself in 64th place in this week’s event after just making the cut.
Baddeley began the week in 31st place in the race for a card but has slipped to 39th and he too needs a huge weekend to play his way back to golf’s holy grail.
NSW’ s Brett Drewitt and Perth’s Curtis Luck have both missed the cut this week and while Drewitt has already earned PGA Tour playing privileges through the regular season, the highly talented Luck is again faced with another frustrating year on the Korn Ferry Tour.
Three double bogeys in his opening nine holes today have proven very costly for luck as starting the week he was 24th in the standings and a midfield finish might have got the job done. Missing the cut by four however has seen him slip to 32nd and means he will progress no further.