Charles Schwab Challenge

Colonial Country Club

The Loop

Watch the gut-wrenching reaction when a Tour pro misses securing a PGA Tour card by an inch

August 19, 2018

There wasn’t much movement on Sunday at the Tour’s final regular-season event, the WinCo Foods Portland Open. When all was said and done, just one golfer—John Chin—jumped from outside the top 25 on the tour’s money list starting the week to inside the number, securing a PGA Tour card for 2019 in the process. Chin, a 31-year-old from Fairfax, Va., finished in second place, four strokes back of winner Sungjae In, which moved him from 41st to 10th on the money list

The emotions of Chin’s accomplishment were obvious when he rolled in his birdie putt on the par-5 18th hole to finish up the tournament with a Sunday 66.

A second player nearly joined Chin in making the leap from outside to inside at Pumpkin Ridge. Kevin Dougherty started the week in 36th place on the money list, but opened with rounds of 67-67-69 to put himself in the top five on the leader board entering the final round. A 27-year-old former Oklahoma State golfer, Dougherty played solid if not spectacular golf on Sunday, sitting at even par for the round through 16 holes. A birdie on the par-4 17th, however, set up the intriguing situation of needing one more birdie on the 18th to move to No. 25 on the money list.

Dougherty’s task was made tougher when his third shot checked up just short of the green, leaving him with a 25-foot chip rather than a putt for his birdie. It was makeable, though, and Dougherty took the flagstick out in hopes that the ball would trickle into the hole.

And it almost did … emphasis on the almost.

Dougherty immediately felt the gravity of the moment. As he watched his playing partner, Curtis Luck, finish up the hole, he had his head down and was in tears, his caddie putting his arm around Dougherty to console him.

“I mean it was pretty dead center, I thought. It had the line,” said Dougherty, who tapped in for par and finished T-6 for the tournament. “I thought it might end up a hair short. But it just missed a hair left.”

Dougherty’s miss allowed Hank Lebioda to settle for the 25th and final PGA Tour card. (Here's the final money list, with the top 25 grabbing PGA Tour cards for 2019.

If there’s any solace for Dougherty it should come from the story of Kevin Mitchell, who a year ago just missed out on a PGA Tour card in the Tour season finale by one stroke on the 18th hole. Mitchell then proceeded to win the first of the Tour’s four Final series tournament, locking up his PGA Tour card after all.

“I just have to keep the momentum going,” Dougherty said. “Same mindset, same routine, we’ll get it done.”

It’s a great attitude to have. Particularly when this is the distance between you and what would have been a PGA Tour card.