Hale snares PGA Tour card, mixed results for other state stars

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Final results:

For 2023 Oklahoma Open champion Blaine Hale Jr., the final state of Korn Ferry Tour qualifying was a springboard right over the Korn Ferry Tour and onto the PGA Tour.

The 26-year-old former University of Oklahoma All-American finished third individually and earned one of five PGA Tour cards available. Hale began Q-School with no status, having only played one PGA TOUR-sanctioned event (2022 Veritex Bank Championship on the Korn Ferry Tour) in his career. He entered this week ranked 4,120th in the Official World Golf Ranking. Now, Hale will tee it up weekly with the world’s best.

His story encapsulates the Q-School ethos, grinding from relative anonymity and seizing his moment when it arose this week.

Hale was a member of Oklahoma’s 2017 NCAA Championship team as a sophomore, winning his match in the finals against Norman Xiong, another incoming TOUR rookie. Hale graduated in 2019 and was part of a wave of young players that had a crucial year of play wiped out by COVID-19. He attempted to qualify for the Korn Ferry Tour through Q-School multiple times but never earned any status. He performed well on the All Pro Tour this year with five top 10s in 10 events and won the Oklahoma Open by a shot over former OU teammate Max McGreevy with a birdie on the 18th hole.

“I put so much pressure on myself that second time I got to try Q-School that I just didn’t play very good that year,” Hale said. “It’s been kind of a weird start with COVID; kind of felt like I was behind everyone else.”

He’s behind no longer. He finished solo third at 9-under, perfectly timing up his first successful Q-School week.

“To be honest, I’ve been waiting for Blaine Hale to pop through,” said OU coach Ryan Hybl. “He has always had big time tour quality type game and just hasn’t quite been able to take advantage of his timing yet… But he just did.  He believes in himself, and he is ready for what comes next.”

While the top five players earned PGA Tour cards, the next 40 finishers and ties cemented Korn Ferry Tour status for 2024. Included in that group were McGreevy and former OSU star Kris Ventura (tied for 21st), Edmond native Kevin Tway (T-28) and Weatherford native Quade Cummins (T-45). McGreevy and Tway, coming off the PGA Tour, will also have status on that tour as over 150 members, meaning they can play when spots are open outside of those who finished in the top 150 in 2023. That also applies to Robert Streb, who finished tied for 98th at Q School.

There are multiple permutations of  KFT status for the rest of the players with Oklahoma ties who competed. That would include former Sooner Grant Hirschman (T-72), Josh Creel of Edmond (T-72), Logan McAllister of Oklahoma City (T-92), Tulsa native Brendon Jelley (T-107), former Sooner Garret Reband (T-119), Rhein Gibson of Edmond (WD) and former Cowboy Zach Bauchou (WD).

McAlllister and Gibson finished in the top 75 on the Korn Ferry Tour in 2023 and have status through that. Bauchou finished in the top 100 which confers status as well. Hirschman, Reband, Creel and Jelley will have conditional status.

Blaine Hale, Jr. makes birdie at PGA TOUR Q-School

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Ken MacLeod

Publisher Golf Oklahoma | Oklahoma's No. 1 Golf Source