Former Cowboy Ventura clinches PGA Tour card with recent win

Former Oklahoma State golfer Kristoffer Ventura putts on No. 13 during the semifinals of match play against Auburn in the 2018 NCAA Division I Men's National Championship at Karsten Creek Golf Club on May 22, 2018. (CNHI Sports Oklahoma)

STILLWATER, Okla. — For the second time this month, a member of the 2018 NCAA national champion Oklahoma State men’s golf team has earned his PGA Tour card.

Kristoffer Ventura, who was a senior on the team that won the program’s first national title since 2006, won his second tournament on the Korn Ferry Tour which vaulted him to sixth in the standings. With only three remaining tournaments in the regular season Ventura has ensured himself a PGA Tour card, which is awarded to the top 25 in standings on the Korn Ferry Tournament prior to the final three tournaments — which is a playoff where golfers vie for another 25 Tour cards.

Getting to this point has been a winding journey for Ventura, though.

An emergency appendectomy before the final stage of the Korn Ferry Tour Qualifying Tournament prevented him from earning status on the tour, and had to rely on playing Monday qualifiers or potential sponsor exemptions.

“It means everything. It seems so far from the Monday qualifiers, but little by little I started getting confidence,” Ventura was quoted in a story by the Omaha World-Herald. “To be here now, and now on the PGA Tour, it’s incredible.

“Winning (Sunday) is a bonus. It could have been anyone. Sometimes you play your best and that’s not good enough, and sometimes it is. For me this week and Utah were good enough, obviously. Especially coming off two missed cuts, to bounce back and still have confidence I could win out here, I’m pleased and happy and excited about next year.”

It was one of those exemptions that gave him his breakthrough at the BMW Charity Pro-Am last month, where a tie for third secured him a spot on the Korn Ferry Tour for remainder of the season. Three weeks later, he won the Utah Championship and suddenly found himself flirting in the top 25 of the standings.

Then this past weekend, a month after his first professional victory, he earned his second with a two-stroke victory over the field at the Pinnacle Bank Championship in Omaha, Nebraska.

“Coming into this week I knew that was going to happen,” Ventura was quoted saying in a story on PGATour.com. “I didn’t tell very many people, but I had confidence in my game, and I had enough tournaments where I felt that it was really achievable. To win this week is incredible. I’m really proud.”

Ventura will join former teammate Matthew Wolff, who earned his PGA Tour card a few weeks ago by winning the 3M Open, as two of the new Cowboys as full-time PGA Tour members – while Viktor Hovland still has some work to do if he is to join them on Tour next season.

“I’ll see you in a few months, Matt,” Ventura was quoted in the story by the Omaha World-Herald. “It will be fun to battle again together like we did in college and hopefully have Viktor with us. Just keep adding Oklahoma State guys and we’re going to represent them the best we can.”

Ventura may not be the only former Cowboy to earn a PGA Tour card by way of the Korn Ferry Tour this summer.

Kevin Dougherty, who missed earning his PGA card last year by $1,643 (the difference of finishing one place higher at most events), sits once again just on the outside of the Top 25. The Korn Ferry Tour now goes by points instead of money earnings, and Dougherty is situated nine points behind a tie at 25th — thanks to the help of two top 10 finishes – with three regular season tournaments remaining before the Korn Tour Finals.

The Finals — which features the final three tournaments of the season, and will be televised on the Golf Channel — features the top 75 points leaders from the Korn Ferry Tour at the end of the regular season, PGA Tour members who are 126-200 on the FedExCup points list following the Wyndham Championship and non-members who would have earned enough FedExCup points to place them 126-200 on the official FedExCup points list. The top 25 from the Finals will also receive a PGA Tour card.

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Elmquist is sports editor for Stillwater News Press, a CNHI News Service publication. Have a question about this story? Do you see something we missed? Send an email to editor@enidnews.com.

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