NEWBURGH, Ind. (AP) — A great week at the British Open, a last-minute decision to play in Indiana, and now Tom Lewis of England has a PGA Tour card.
Lewis, who narrowly qualified for the Korn Ferry Tour Finals with his tie for 11th at Royal Portrush, closed with a 7-under 65 for a five-shot victory in the last of three events — the only one he played — to join 25 players who earned PGA Tour cards Monday.
“I didn’t know what to expect this week,” Lewis said. “To shoot the scores I did this week was amazing.”
The Korn Ferry Tour Championship was the last of three events that comprise the Finals series, which offers PGA Tour cards to the leading 25 players who did not have playing privileges for the upcoming season. Twenty-five others previously had earned tour cards from the regular season on the developmental tour.
Lewis, a European Tour member, did well enough at the British Open and a pair of World Golf Championships to be the equivalent of No. 196 in the FedEx Cup. Players from 126th to 200th in FedEx Cup are eligible for the Korn Ferry Tour Finals.
He was in Europe during the opening two Finals events, and skipped the European Masters in Switzerland to compete in the last one, and it paid off in a big way.
“I’m chuffed,” said Lewis, who first gained notoriety with a share of the 18-hole lead in 2011 British Open as an amateur. “A win is a win. Hopefully, I can go on and create more opportunities for myself on the European Tour and out here now.”
The next PGA Tour season starts Sept. 12-15 at The Greenbrier.
Fabian Gomez, a former PGA Tour winner from Argentina, closed with a 66 to finish second and move into the top 25 who earned cards.
The biggest moment belonged to Doug Ghim, a former U.S. Amateur runner-up. He made an 8-foot par putt on the final hole at Victoria National for a 72 to tie for 19th, giving him just enough points to finish inside the top 25. If he had missed, he would have lost out on a card.
“I never felt nerves like that before,” Ghim said. “I had said the only way I would be devastated was if I had a putt to make it and I didn’t make it — and that thought occurred,” Ghim said. “To have a putt to make it is wild, and even wilder is to have it go in.”
Chris Baker, who grew up in Indiana and spent an entire decade on small tours, finally earned a PGA Tour card with a tie for fourth.
The heartache belonged to Justin Harding of South Africa, and there wasn’t much he could do about it.
Harding, who won five times over the past two years in Europe, Asia and South Africa, was in 13th place in points going into the final event and then missed the cut. He kept dropping and still looked to be safe inside the top 25 until a chain-reaction set of circumstances that came down to three players who already had secured cards.
It ended with Lanto Griffin standing over a 5-foot birdie putt on the final hole. If he made it, Griffin would have tied for sixth. He missed it, which meant he stayed in a six-way tie for seventh with Richy Werenski and D.J. Trahan. That tie for seventh moved Werenski and Trahan ahead of Harding in the final standings.
“I couldn’t lock it up on my own,” Harding said on Twitter. “Unfortunately, I have to let the other guys decide my fate.”
He ended his tweet by saying he would take a break and get ready for the rest of the European Tour season and hoped to be seen on the PGA Tour early next year. He already is assured of being in the Masters because he tied for 12th in his debut at Augusta National.