From agony (Vince India) to ecstacy (Scott Harrington), the Korn Ferry Tour's season finale was a wildly emotional affair
Look away. Stop reading. NSFW. Golf is an unforgiving game, and its history is littered with carnage of epic collapses. Sunday at the Korn Ferry Tour’s season finale, the WinCo Foods Portland Open presented by Kraft Heinz, at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Course in Oregon, was no exception.
Bo Hoag won the tournament to earn one of 25 PGA Tour cards for next season, but Vince India will probably be remembered more. For all the wrong reasons.
Playing in the second-to-last group, India arrived at the par-5 18th in a four-way tie for second. A par would at least get him through to the Korn Ferry Finals, where he would have a second opportunity to play his way to the PGA Tour.
Instead, India watched helplessly as his shot from a greenside bunker trickled past the hole, rolled off the green and settled in a drain. After a free drop and still with a chance to get up and down for par, his chip came up short, rolled back into the same drain and with it his dreams of playing on the PGA Tour had faded. He double-bogeyed the hole, finished fifth to fall to 85th in the season-long points race and will be relegated to Korn Ferry qualifying school.
“I thought I clipped it well enough to hold it,” a distraught India said on Golf Channel of his bunker shot. “It just kept going.”
India added then when he took his drop, the ball settled in a small divot and he wasn’t able to make clean contact.
Coming into the week, India was 116th in the Korn Ferry points standings and not even thinking about the top 25. Then he opened with rounds of 64-65 to take the lead into the weekend. A third-round 68 left him in a tie for third after 54 holes but still in great position to at least get to the postseason.
With four birdies and just one bogey through his first 15 holes on Sunday, India was on the precipice. Then came closing the stretch of nerves and emotions—a bogey on the par-3 16th, a birdie on the par-4 17th and the disaster on the par-5 18th.
After India’s second shot on the 545-yard finishing hole squirted right and settled in the bunker, he knew he needed to get up and down to lock up a card. Anything past the pin, however, would be problematic, with the green running impossibly fast all day. The shot meandered right of the hole but carried just enough speed to keep on going.
“I just did my best,” India said.
Scott Harrington, playing in the final group behind India and watching from the fairway, did his best, too—to hold it together.
Leading through 54 holes, the 38-year-old Oregon native whose wife, Jenn, had twice battled Hodgkin’s lymphoma, did just that, getting up and down from short of the green for birdie to cap a 69 that left him in second place. It was enough to move from 38th in the points race at the start of the week to 19th, and earn a PGA Tour card for the first time.
“I can’t put it into words,” Harrington said. “We’ve been through so much. I had this feeling all year, even when I got off to a bad start, that this was going to be the year.”
It was for Hoag, too. The 31-year-old backed up a third-round 63 with a 65 on Sunday. His victory jumped him from 31st in points to seventh.
“It means everything,” he said. “It’s a life-changer for me.”
He wasn’t the only one. Other notables who finished inside the top 25 in the season-long race included Rhein Gibson, Henrik Norlander, Tyler McCumber and Maverick McNealy.
Xinjun Jang, meanwhile, topped the money list, and Robby Shelton and Scottie Scheffler finished second and third, respectively. Vincent Whaley nabbed the final card, despite missing the cut, dropping from 22nd at the start of the week to 25th on Sunday. Chris Baker and Brett Coletta weren’t so fortunate, dropping from 24th and 25th to 26th and 27th after each failed to reach the weekend.
Not all hope is lost for those who finished outside the top 25, though. Players from 26th to 75th will also advance to the Korn Ferry Finals, a three-tournament series starting with next week’s Nationwide Children's Hospital Championship in Columbus, Ohio. Players from Nos. 76-85, on the other hand, will head to he final stage of Korn Ferry Q school, with Nos. 86-100 faced with two stages of Q school.
Among the notables moving on to Korn Ferry Finals are Rob Oppenheim, Erik Compton, Steve Wheatcroft, Doug Ghim, Martin Flores, Blayne Barber and Luke Guthrie. The last player in was Nicolas Echavarria, who jumped from 84th to 75th after a tie for 24th in Oregon.