21 Sep 2023 | Professional golf |

Aussies on Tour: Crunch time on Korn Ferry Tour

by Tony Webeck

Dimi Papadatos Brett Drewitt Rhein Gibson Curtis Luck
PGA TOUR cards and Korn Ferry Tour status are on the line for Aussies Dimi Papadatos, Brett Drewitt, Rhein Gibson and Curtis Luck. Photos: Mike Stobe, David Berding, Alex Goodlett/Getty Images

Aussie pair Rhein Gibson and Brett Drewitt have two weeks to lock up 2024 PGA TOUR cards as the race for the Korn Ferry Tour’s top 30 approaches its climax.

Gibson, Drewitt, Curtis Luck and Dimi Papadatos are all in the field for this week’s Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship in Ohio, a tournament that Luck won three years ago.

The third of four Korn Ferry Tour Finals events, there are implications for every player in the field.

The top 30 at the completion of the Korn Ferry Tour Championship in two weeks’ time earn PGA TOUR status for next year, an increase on 25 from past years.

With two events left to play, Gibson is in 29th position while Drewitt is 32nd on 746.624 points, less than eight points behind 30th-placed Wilson Furr.

When he was victorious at the Astara Golf Championship in Colombia in February, Gibson moved to third on the season-long points list.

He solidified that position with a tie for 10th two months later at the Astara Chile Classic but has had just two top-10 finishes since, the most recent a tie for 10th at the NV5 Invitational in July.

Drewitt’s position has also slid since his blistering start to the season.

The New South Welshman had four top-four finishes in his first six starts of the year, his best a second-place finish at the Veritex Bank Championship in April.

He has missed 15 of 17 cuts since, however, with a best finish in that time a tie for 47th at the Visit Knoxville Open.

For Luck and Papadatos, the immediate concern is to lock in their status on the Korn Ferry Tour in 2024.

The top 75 at the end of this week advance to the Tour Championship and secure full status for 2024, Luck (61st) and Papadatos (64th) seemingly comfortably inside that number.

Elsewhere this week, Travis Smyth defends his Yeangder TPC title on the Asian Tour, Minjee Lee is chasing a maiden win on the Korean LPGA Tour at the Hana Financial Group Championship and six Aussies are teeing it up at Pebble Beach for the PURE Insurance Championship on the Champions Tour.

For Smyth, the return to Linkou International Golf and Country Club sees fond memories accompany a strong season to date.

The 28-year-old Sydneysider has six top-20s with a best finish third at the World City Championship in Hong Kong, a result that earned him a maiden start at The Open Championship at Royal Liverpool.

“All the memories of the win have come flooding back this week,” said Smyth.

“I played nine holes and remembered every shot I hit on the back nine in the final round last year.

“It’s really good to be back and have no lock down situation like last year. We are free to roam the city and go out to restaurants, so I am really looking forward to this week.

“It was a great boost to my confidence,” he said of his win last year.

“It did me a world of good. I have had a solid season; got off to good start in Saudi; I have played solid in The International Series; I played my first Major this year, thanks to the Hong Kong event; had a bunch of top 10s and a lot of solid play. I am happy with where the game is at.”

Runner-up in 2021, Lee is out to make amends after missing the cut at the Hana Financial Group Championship a year ago.

It is the fourth time she has played the event which comes with the added pressure of being sponsored by one of her personal sponsors.

“There’s going to be extra pressure as you always want to win a tournament where your sponsor is involved,” said Lee, who won her ninth LPGA Tour title a fortnight ago at the Kroger Queen City Championship.

“As a LPGA player, we do not have too many opportunities to play and have a chance to win here in Korea.

“But having said that, the level of competition on the KLPGA is indeed very strong and it certainly measures up to the LPGA.

“As for myself, I’m coming in with a lot more confidence and I hope to show that winning form again this week.”

Round 1 tee times AEST

DP World Tour Cazoo Open de France Le Golf National, Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, France 4.20pm* Tom Kim, Ryan Fox (NZ), Guido Migliozzi 9.10pm Rasmus Hojgaard, Jorge Campillo, Daniel Hillier (NZ) 9.20pm Robert MacIntyre, Min Woo Lee, Victor Perez 9.20pm* Gunner Wiebe, Alfredo Garcia-Heredia, Blake Windred

Defending champion: Guido Migliozzi Past Aussie winners: Greg Norman (1980), Robert Allenby (1996) TV times: 9.30pm-2.30am Thursday on Fox Sports 503; Live 9.30pm-2.30am Friday on Fox Sports 507; Live 9.30pm-2am Saturday on Fox Sports 507; Live 9pm-2am Sunday on Fox Sports 507 and Kayo Sport.

Asian Tour Yeangder TPC Linkou International Golf and Country Club, Chinese Taipei 9.10am Suteepat Prateeptienchai, Alex Ching, Kevin Yuan 9.20am Jeev Milkha Singh, Terry Pilkadaris, Pawin Ingkhapradit 9.30am* Travis Smyth, Chan Shih-chang, Gaganjeet Bhullar 9.40am Natipong Srithong, Chen Yi-tong, Jack Thompson 10am Harrison Gilbert-Wong, Rahil Gangjee, Jaewoong Eom 10.20am KP Lin, Tom Power-Horan, Wang Wei-hsuan 1.45pm* Mardan Mamat, Huang Chi, Jack Murdoch 1.55pm* Josh Younger, Ben Leong, Kao Teng 2.25pm* Ajeetesh Sandhu, Chapchai Nirat, Ben Campbell (NZ) 2.45pm* Settee Prakongvech, Douglas Klein, Lin Yung-lung 2.55pm Dodge Kemmer, Lien Lu-sen, Nick Voke (NZ)

Defending champion: Travis Smyth Past Aussie winners: Travis Smyth (2022) Japan Golf Tour Panasonic Open Golf Championship Onotoyo Golf Club, Hyogo 8.35am Taiki Yoshida, Akio Sadakata, Brendan Jones 9.05am Shintaro Kobayashi, Yosuke Tsukada, Brad Kennedy 12.20pm* Aoki Takano, Shinji Tomimura, Andrew Evans 12.30pm Kota Kaneko, Ren Yonezawa, Adam Bland 1.40pm Dylan Perry, Kazuya Koura, Shiso Go

Defending champion: Taiga Semikawa Past Aussie winners: Nil

Korean LPGA Tour Hana Financial Group Championship Bear’s Best Cheongna, Incheon 12pm Ye Won Lee, Ji Young Park, Lydia Ko (NZ) 12.10pm Su Ji Kim, Da Som Ma, Minjee Lee

Defending champion: Su Ji Kim Past Aussie winners: Nil TV times: Live 3pm-6pm Thursday on Fox Sports 503; Live 3pm-6pm Friday on Fox Sports 507; Live 2pm-5pm Saturday on Fox Sports 507; Live 2pm-5.30pm Sunday on Fox Sports 507 and Kayo Sport.

Korn Ferry Tour Nationwide Children's Hospital Championship Ohio State University Golf Club (Scarlet Cse), Columbus, Ohio 9.40pm* Roger Sloan, Nicholas Lindheim, Brett Drewitt 10.02pm* Rhein Gibson, Taylor Dickson, Chris Gotterup 2.20am* Chan Kim, Spencer Levin, Dimi Papadatos 2.42am Norman Xiong, Jared Wolfe, Curtis Luck

Defending champion: David Lingmerth Past Aussie winners: Curtis Luck (2020) TV times: Live 5am-8am Friday, Saturday, Sunday on Fox Sports 503; Live 5am-8am Monday on Fox Sports 505 and Kayo Sport.

Epson Tour Murphy USA El Dorado Shootout Mystic Creek Golf Club, El Dorado, Arkansas 10.52pm* Katherine Smith, Amelia Garvey (NZ), Nataliya Guseva 3.33am Cassie Porter, Minji Kang, Alana Uriell 3.44am Yue Ren, Kristen Gillman, Robyn Choi 3.44am* Hira Naveed, Natasha Andrea Oon, Pinyada Kuvanun

Defending champion: Britney Yada Past Aussie winners: Hannah Green (2017)

Champions Tour PURE Insurance Championship Pebble Beach Golf Links, Monterey Peninsula, California 12.32am Mark Hensby, Wes Short Jr 12.54am* Ernie Els, John Senden 1.16am Richard Green, KJ Choi 1.49am* Steven Alker (NZ), Dan Forsman 5.06am Notah Begay III, Stuart Appleby 5.06am* Rod Pampling, David McKenzie

Defending champion: Steve Flesch Past Aussie winners: Nil TV times: Live 8am-11am Saturday, Sunday on Fox Sports 503; 1pm-2.30pm Monday on Fox Sports 505 and Kayo Sport.

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