Korn Ferry Tour
Korn Ferry pro spent time during COVID as delivery driver; now he's on the PGA Tour
David Skinns won the Korn Ferry Tour's Pinnacle Bank Championship and earned his PGA Tour card for next season.
The extended Korn Ferry Tour season that stretched over two years ended Sunday with a journeyman pro, who has spent time as a bartender and a DoorDash driver, making a scrambling mad dash to victory and his first PGA Tour card at the age of 39.
To rework a line from Brad Pitt in the film, “Moneyball,” how can you not be romantic about golf?
Englishman David Skinns, who for a short time during golf’s shutdown last year took up a food delivery job in Georgia to help support his family, one-putted the last four holes to win the Pinnacle Bank Championship in Omaha, Neb. The gut-check finish was the capper to an inspired run by a player in his 16th pro season as he rallied from 82nd on the points list a month ago to slip inside the group of top-25 points earners who get their PGA Tour cards for next season.
In four of his final five events Skinns finished eighth or better, and over his last 20 rounds only once did he fail to break 70. His four-under 67 at The Club at Indian Creek vaulted him over third-round leader (and Korn Ferry points leader) Stephan Jaeger and gave him a one-stroke victory over Marty Dou and Jared Wolfe with a 14-under 270 total. It was Skinns’ second career win, the first coming in the same event in 2018.
Wolfe, with a closing 65, was vying for his third win of the season.
Jaeger had an even-par 71 to finish two back at 12-under. He edged Mito Pereira of Chile for first place on the regular-season points list, though Pereira won three times and already earned a three-victory promotion to the PGA Tour.
“It was stressful on me, and it was stressful on my family,” Skinns, who leaped from 46th to 22nd on the points list, said of the finish that included a 15-foot birdie putt on the 16th that was the difference maker. “I always believed I could win this week.
“It’s unreal. It’s been a lot of years to hear those words,” he added about finally reaching the PGA Tour.
Skinns was one of two players who began the 43rd and final tournament of the combined 2020-21 Korn Ferry Tour regular season outside the top 25 in the points standings but moved up to snag a PGA Tour exemption. The other was Austin Smotherman, 27, a former SMU golfer who shot a cautious 75, enough to end up T-26 at five-under. He climbed the one spot he needed, finishing 25th.
Taylor Montgomery and Peter Uihlein, who began the week 24th and 25th, respectively, both missed the cut and were pushed out of a tour card. They will have another chance starting Thursday in the three-tournament Korn Ferry Tour Finals, where another 25 cards will be awarded.
Among players of note to qualify for the PGA Tour via the points list was Will Zalatoris, runner-up in the Masters, who played most of the year on the big tour, amassing eight top-10 finishes and earning more than $3.4 million. The 24-year-old Texan, ranked 29th in the world, ended up ninth on the final Korn Ferry Tour points list despite playing his last event last September.
Also advancing was Curtis Thompson, 28, who has been more commonly referred to as the older brother of LPGA standout Lexi Thompson and the younger brother of one-time tour member Nicholas Thompson. With a one-under 70 and 11-under total, Curtis finished T-7 and 21st on the points list. He is the first player to win the Korn Ferry Tour Qualifying Tournament's Final Stage and then earn a tour card the following season. (Nicholas, by the way, finished T-26 in Omaha and will be going back to Q-school after coming in 138th on the season points list.)
Patrick Fishburn and Kevin Dougherty also had a reason to celebrate, climbing into the top 75 to retain exempt status on the Korn Ferry Tour next year while also qualifying for the Finals. Fishburn shot 64-68 on the weekend, finished T-4 and jumped 10 spots into 71st place. Dougherty was T-9 after a closing 70 and 274 total to climb from 78th to 74th.
The unlucky duo pushed out were Augusto Nunez and Taylor Dickson. Nunez missed the cut while Dickson, the bubble boy at the tournament’s outset, shot 75-281 to finish T-35, enough to tumble two spots to 77th.
Kyle Reifers hung on for the 75th and last position after a closing 72 left him at 282 and T-43.