When you think of events that signal the eventual return of professional golf’s ecosystem to its pre-pandemic ways, second stage of the Korn Ferry Tour Qualifying School might not be high on your list. And yet its import is considerable. An entire class of talented college golfers were stuck in golf no-man’s land, scrambling in Monday qualifiers and begging for sponsor’s exemptions, when the tour suspended Q school for a season. Same with players who had the rotten luck of losing PGA Tour of KFT status the year prior to COVID and had no way to get back on to pro golf’s hamster wheel.
With five sites hosting second stage KFT qualifying over the last two weeks, several feel-good stories emerged surrounding players who took advantage of Q school’s return and now have advanced to the final stage of KFT Qualifying School in November. In other words, these players have at least some status on the biggest developmental tour in golf, leaving a direct path to eventually making it on the PGA Tour. We’ve got five players below we’re highlighting, none of whom we’ll see regularly on PGA Tour Sundays in the immediate future, but all who are now able to breathe a bit easier knowing they have a place to play and a viable road to even bigger and better things.
Fast forward to October, and Visacki claimed one of the final spots into KFT Final Stage at the second stage qualifier in Plantation, Fla., when he finished at nine under par for four rounds. He held on to the number, however, in harrowing fashion, saving par on the par-5 finishing hole with an up and down from 150 yards after hitting his second shot into the water.
Before that, Visacki had made the turn in four over on the day only to make an eagle on the 10th and birdies on the 11th, 12th and 16th holes at Plantation Preserve Golf Club to get him back inside the cutline.
This latest video isn’t going to go viral, but it’s similarly revealing in terms of how emotional Visacki is.
The Canadian was a standout college player at North Carolina State who stumbled in the transition to pro golf, giving up the game for a while after losing his KFT card in 2019 and turning to caddieing. He was on the bag when Sungjae Im won his first PGA Tour event at the 2020 Honda Classic. But when golf returned from the pandemic later in 2020, Choi decided to give playing a chance again; he finished second in Florida and looks ready to resume his KFT career.
The 41-year-old two-time heart-transplant recipient has more fight still in him. He had KFT status in 2020-21 but finished No. 140 on the points list with just two top-25s in 30 starts. But in Brooksville, Fla., last week, Compton finished T-4 and thus continues to keep alive his dream of returning to the PGA Tour (he played five seasons from 2012 to 2016) and getting his first win.
The 2019 U.S. Amateur champion has played in 10 PGA Tour events but hadn’t made a start in a KFT event having spent the last five months in 2021 recovering after undergoing hip surgery in April. Ogletree returned at the Sanderson Farms Championship on another sponsor’s invite and made the cut. In Dothan, Ala., this past weekend, he finished second at 16 under par.