Veterans Streb, Van Pelt, Ridings at career crossroads on Korn Ferry Tour

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By Ken MacLeod

The Korn Ferry Tour is mostly about aspiring PGA Tour members between the ages of 20-30 looking for that elusive PGA Tour card, future fame and fortune and trained to shoot incredibly low scores each week to achieve those goals.

Mixed in with the army of long-ball bashing youngsters showing off this weekend at the Compliance Solutions Championship at Jimmie Austin OU Golf Club in Norman are a few veterans of the PGA Tour wars with different perspectives and goals.

The two oldest players in the field are 49-year-old veterans Tag Ridings and Bo Van Pelt, both with strong Tulsa ties and both seeing the PGA Tour Champions as a possible home next year once they are 50. Also at a bit of a career crossroads is 37-year-old Robert Streb, the Edmond North grad who would like to regain his full-time status on the PGA Tour he enjoyed for 11 consecutive years before losing it last year.  But he is also conflicted by the time his suddenly limited schedule has allowed him to spend with wife Maggie and their three young children.

Tag Ridings takes a shot on the eighteenth green during the first round of the Compliance Solutions Championship at Jimmie Austin OU Golf Club on June 20, 2024 in Norman, Oklahoma

All three had decent first rounds in the CSC, with Streb and Van Pelt each shooting 3-under and Ridings 2-under. However with the younger players tearing up Jimmie Austin (Jackson Suber was at 14 under through 27 holes) it was entirely possible that none of the three will be around for the weekend.

Ridings is the son of former South Lakes Golf Course head professional Paul Ridings, who still lives in Tulsa. Tag went to Memorial High School and the University of Arkansas and has lived in Texas for most of his career, which has been split between the PGA Tour and KFT. He has 286 starts on the KFT with two wins and has played 239 PGA Tour events with a runner-up finish his best.

Tag Ridings grew up in Tulsa and attended the University of Arkansas. He turns 50 in September. from the fourth hole

Ridings said Thursday that he would be playing in the qualifying school for the senior circuit this fall and if he doesn’t make it is content to keep grinding away against the younger players. He was one of the last golfers on the range, fiddling with the set-up of his driver, which boasts several strips of lead tape as well as other modifications.

Van Pelt has 467 PGA Tour starts and has cashed more than $21 million including one win but 21 top-five finishes. He has been slowly trying to get his game back since debilitating neck and shoulder injuries in 2015 Since his comeback the KFT has often been a home, with 108 events played including one victory.

Van Pelt was actually playing very little golf this spring and summer while watching his son Crew play lacrosse for a national club team. When Crew took time off to recover from an injury, Van Pelt decided it was time to get busy on his game again.

“I’ve been practicing hard the last two months,” he said. “The results weren’t great right off the bat but it wasn’t horrible. I think things are moving in a good direction. My body feels great and I have 11 months to kind of get ready for the Champions Tour. I’d like to sprinkle in some good results between now and then.”

Streb had conditional status on the PGA Tour this year after finishing 178th on the FedEx Cup points list in 2022-23. The two-time PGA Tour winner has only gotten in four PGA Tour events and until the last three weeks had played only three KFT events. A top 10 finish at Wichita last week helped get him a spot in Norman and he should get more KFT spots in the second half of the season. Maybe enough to pull a rabbit out of his hat, finish in the top 25 on the KFT points list and regain his PGA Tour card.

If not, he has one exempt year on the KFT he can take for 2025. Streb has made over $14 million between the two tours not counting any endorsements or other ventures and said he was set up to where he could comfortably spend some time off this year. He didn’t miss the travel, particularly on the Korn Ferry Tour. But he quickly found out he did miss the competition.

“I thought I’d be all right sitting at home . . . but I like playing,” Streb said. “Maybe not chasing it all the time, but it would be nice to play a little more. Is it going to make me or break me, probably not. I’m sitting in a little different spot than some of the younger guys.”

Robert and Maggie have three children in daughter Catherine (9), son David (6) and son Michael (14 months). They keep both parents busy with a myriad of sports and activities. But Streb is a competitor and not ready to give up his day job.

“Last year it was a struggle, just not hitting it good,” he said. “And the short game wasn’t great. I feel like the last few weeks there’s been some signs of hitting it better and holing a few putts here and there. I’m just trying to get back to my old fundamentals. I probably got caught chasing my tail a little bit trying some new stuff.”

Compliance Solutions Notes:

• The largest gallery of Thursday’s opening round was commanded by John Daly II, the son of two-time major champion John Daly. He had 50-75 folks following him shoot a 76 while two groups behind there were a handful watching OU grad Logan McAllister shoot 64.

• Title sponsor Mark Lammert seemed pleased with the improvements in set-up made by new tournament operator HNS Sports. There were a number of stations giving away free drinks and even Braum’s ice cream to the spectators and using the short par-4 first hole as the 18th hole was creating quite a bit of drama as golfers decided whether it was more prudent to lay up or hit driver or 3-wood, shots that were frequently going over the green but getting relief from the grandstands.

Lammert said when he first brought the tournament to Jimmie Austin he thought the winner might shoot in single digits under par. Instead 9-under was leading through 18 holes and last year’s winning score of 22-under par is certainly under threat of being obliterated.

•Tournament officials announced today the final details surrounding the Celebrity Shootout – including the roster addition of former Oklahoma State University standout guard and current ESPN college basketball analyst, Bryndon Manzer, filling in for Doug Gottlieb.

Manzer played basketball for the Oklahoma State University Cowboys from 1992-94 under legendary coach, Eddie Sutton, where Manzer graduated as the all-time three-point field goal percentage leader. After college, Manzer went on to assistant coach the St. Gregory’s University men’s basketball team. In 1996, Manzer accepted a job as head coach of their women’s team, before becoming the men’s head coach the following year. In 2002, Manzer joined ESPN and is currently an analyst for Big 12 men’s college basketball games.

The two celebrity teams, consisting of Curtis Lofton, Teddy Lehman and Dusty Dvoracek for the University of Oklahoma team and Desmond Mason, Robin Ventura and Manzer for the Oklahoma State University team, will compete against one another for $25,000 in charity prize money. The Shootout’s two benefiting charities are the tournament’s primary beneficiaries: AustimOklahoma and Folds of Honor.

The scramble, match-play format event will be contested on Hole Nos. 10, 11, 17 and 18, with each hole worth $5,000. The winning team will receive an additional $5,000 for their charity. The charity team pairings will be decided by a coin flip prior to the Shootout. ORU golf coach Lance Watson will caddie for Nicklaus, but said his duties will not be too strenuous as he will only carry a putter.


 

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Ken MacLeod

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

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