Apr 21, 2021
Where do I begin as I look back on my season? My four Korn Ferry Tour runner-up finishes? Everything related to COVID-19? My first appearance in a major, playing in the U.S. Open? Dealing with a nagging shoulder injury? What a wild year it´s been!
Regardless, it’s great to be back in Canada. I arrived home about three weeks ago and had to do my mandatory 14-day quarantine, so I’m a free man now. With the 2020 portion of the Korn Ferry Tour now complete, I’m able to sit back and assess my year and realize how happy I am with the way I’ve competed. I’m No. 2 on the points list, a great spot to be in, heading into the start of next year and our 2020-21 wraparound season.
I think coming into this year, I had a different mindset, as opposed to my first full year on the Korn Ferry Tour, in 2016. I knew the golf courses a little bit, and I felt a bit more comfortable out there. I’ve learned that it’s always a bit of an adjustment playing on a different Tour, advancing from the Mackenzie Tour in 2019 to now playing on the Korn Ferry Tour. You’re playing against different guys, on different golf courses, in different cities, all that. I’m just more used to it now.
I also believe if you look at golfers on the PGA TOUR, they all have different stories, from where they were to where they ultimately are right now. My path has taken me a bit longer, and I’m OK with that as I’ve had to prove myself a few times through the ranks.
I spent one full season and part of another on the Korn Ferry Tour after finishing in the top five on the Mackenzie Tour. I got injured during my first Korn Ferry Tour year and didn’t play very well. I lost all my status and had to do it again, going back to the Mackenzie Tour, again finishing in the top five on the Order of Merit and returning to the Korn Ferry Tour—this time playing up to my standards. I know I can compete with those guys, and although I don’t have a win yet this year, I’ve been close multiple times, and I’ve gotten very comfortable and played some pretty nice golf on Sundays. I haven’t been able to get the job done. But, that’s all right. I know it’s coming, and I just have to keep putting myself in those positions.
Even without winning, what I was able to do by finishing second four times is put myself in a nice spot to ultimately get a PGA TOUR card next year. The reality is the guys who won played as well or better than me. Yeah, I can always look back at those close calls and think of a shot or two here and there, but I know I played some good golf on those Sundays, and if some guys beat me, they deserved to win. That’s just the way it goes, I know my time is coming.
Looking ahead to 2021, the ultimate goal is to finish No. 1 on the points list. Regardless, placing as high as I can will be very beneficial for getting into PGA TOUR events.
This season I got a taste of that when I earned a spot in the U.S. Open. It was great for the USGA to give Korn Ferry Tour players 10 spots into the tournament—having a little something extra to play for and being fortunate enough to grab one of the invites. There’s no PGA TOUR promotion off the Korn Ferry Tour this year, so it was cool to play for something as prestigious as the U.S. Open. It was totally different with no spectators, but it felt like a major for sure. I was pretty nervous on the first tee, I guess a major is always going to be a major.
I knew the history of Winged Foot, I knew how hard a course it is and I basically embraced the whole experience. I recognized I was going to make some bogeys, that it was going to be mentally and physically tough week. I made some bogeys, yes, but I didn’t make a double bogey all week, which was awesome. I also had a really, really nice round Sunday, probably one of the better rounds I’ve ever played. To shoot even-par on Sunday at the U.S. Open in those conditions was pretty incredible, and my final-round play really jumped me up the leaderboard. It was such a cool experience, just getting out there, playing with the best players in the world and having a good finish.
People have asked me about playing in an RBC Canadian Open vs. the U.S. Open. I’ve played in two Canadian Opens, one as an amateur, one as a pro. The RBC Canadian Open is always on my list as one of the biggest events of the year. The fans love it, and they really enjoy supporting the Canadians who are playing in our national open. It’s a tournament I’m hopefully in next year when this pandemic settles and we can hold the event again. On the other hand, the U.S. Open is a bigger tournament, and it is one of the four majors. Without fans watching, it is a little hard to compare, but I can only imagine the energy on the golf course. All I know is both tournaments are a lot of fun to play and competing in any national open is an honor.
After an enjoyable week at Winged Foot, I returned to the Korn Ferry Tour to finish out the season. I carried the momentum to Wichita, where I had a close call on Sunday, and finished runner up, again. After 17 weeks on the road, I’m ready for a break and happy to finally be back home in Canada with my fiancée.
As many recall, my shoulder gave me trouble at the end of my Mackenzie Tour season. Well, my shoulder was feeling really good, and I was able to give it additional rest when the pandemic hit, and I took nine weeks off where I didn’t touch a club. My body is now feeling very healthy, I’m not in pain, and I’m able to swing the club the way I did when I was younger. All good news.
I grew up playing golf because it was fun, and I enjoyed it. I think I got away from that the past few years with all my injuries and being frustrated and not getting the results I wanted. What 2020 proved to me is I am back to how I used to play golf, and I’m seeing excellent results. I think that’s why I’m having so much fun.