Viktor Hovland leads Korn Ferry Tour event with eyes on PGA Tour card

Viktor Hovland leads Korn Ferry Tour event with eyes on PGA Tour card

Golf

Viktor Hovland leads Korn Ferry Tour event with eyes on PGA Tour card

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Viktor Hovland may have found himself at the BMW Championship rather than the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship and the first round of the Korn Ferry Tour Finals this weekend had his all of his PGA Tour experience in 2019 counted in the FedEx Cup Standings.

Or maybe not.

Hovland’s T-12 finish at the U.S. Open shortly before he turned professional didn’t count toward his FedEx Cup points. Nor did his other two top-40 finishes as an amateur.

Of course, Hovland would have had to qualify for U.S. Open through regional qualifying had he turned pro. This dilemma was hopefully solved for future when the USGA changed the rules for U.S. Amatuer champions who wish to turn pro and use their exemption to play in the Open.

So while he put together four finishes T-16 or better since June — including a fourth-place finish at the Wyndham Championship in early August — Hovland is instead competing for a PGA Tour card in the Korn Ferry Tour Finals, a three-tournament playoff-type structure.

Hovland has come out firing in the first round of the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship in Columbus, Ohio. The Oklahoma State product holds a share of the lead with Cameron Percy at 7-under 64.

Hovland sank three birdies on the front nine before going on a tear on the back half of Ohio State University’s Scarlet Course.

On the par-five 12th hole, Hovland was left smiling when his long putt found the bottom of the cup for eagle. And while he bogeyed 14, he birdied his final three holes Thursday to enter the clubhouse on top.

There are 50 PGA Tour cards available each season through the Korn Ferry Tour. The first 25 go automatically to those who finished in the top-25 point places from the Korn Ferry regular season.

The last 25 Tour cards are doled out based on the Korn Ferry Finals.

The top 75 players from the Korn Ferry Tour, golfers who ranked Nos. 126 to 200 on the FedEx Cup points list — missing out on the FedEx Cup Playoffs — and non-PGA Tour members who would have made it into the 126 to 200 range are all invited to the Korn Ferry Finals.

Hovland will look to join fellow rookie standouts Matthew Wolff and Collin Morikawa on the PGA Tour next season with a solid Korn Ferry Finals performance. His showing Thursday set him up well.

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