Mount Pleasant’s Brehm earns PGA Tour card again; Petoskey’s Garber makes strides toward keeping card
For the boys from Northern Michigan, Sunday was a big day of golf.
Ryan Brehm all but secured his PGA Tour card for the 2019-20 season with a win on the Korn Ferry Tour (formerly Web.com), while Joey Garber carded a top-10 finish in suburban Minneapolis to move up the FedEx Cup standings and put himself in better position to keep his PGA Tour card for next season.
Brehm, 33, a Mount Pleasant native, blew off a double-bogey on the 72nd hole to win in a playoff in the LECOM Health Challenge in Findley Lake, N.Y. He birdied the playoff hole, his putt circling the hole before dropping, to beat Tim Wilkinson.
That clinching putt came after Brehm blew a two-stroke lead on the 18th hole of regulation Sunday.
"I have won before, and the last time I was not as calm," said Brehm, whose Web.com Tour victory in 2016 earned him a PGA Tour card for the 2016-17 season. "That helped."
The win comes a week after Brehm finished just one shot out of a playoff, and bumps him to fifth on the tour's money list — putting him in position for a PGA Tour card for the 2019-20 season. The top 25 on the Korn Ferry Tour money list earn full status for next season.
Brehm, a graduate of Michigan State, played in 17 PGA Tour events in the 2016-17 season, making eight cuts and earning nearly $400,000 — but finished 63 spots out of keeping his card for the following season.
He said he's more prepared for what lies ahead now.
"It's different," Brehm said. "I'm a little older, I've accepted this is what I do for a living, this is my career. I just wasn't ready for it (last time), maybe, I didn't really know what it meant. And this one feels like I'm on more of a solid foundation moving forward."
You could see this coming, too.
This year on the Korn Ferry Tour, Brehm has played in 11 tournaments, and earned five top-10 finishes, including a tie for third last week at the Utah Championship.
He had a two-stroke lead heading to the par-5 18th Sunday, but a bad lie in a divot cost him, and he went on to make a double-bogey 7, pushing him to the playoff.
He went ahead and hit driver again on 18 — that's the strength of his game, especially the length — and his approach just sailed over the green, leaving a short chip. The chip slid past the hole, 8 feet away.
And after Wilkinson missed his birdie putt from a similar length, Brehm stepped up and made his — only after it had circled the entire cup.
"I still don't know how it went in," he said.
Brehm said he enjoyed the week, with a course that reminded him of Northern Michigan, given its "lodgey-type atmosphere."
There might've been an omen early in the week that this week would be special; he became an uncle for the first time.
Meanwhile, Garber, 27, a rookie on the PGA Tour from Petoskey, finished tied for seventh at the 3M Open after a final-round 65 in Blaine, Minn. That moved him up 21 spots in the FedEx Cup standings, to 154th. At season's end, the top 125 continue to have full status on the PGA Tour next season. Garber for the second consecutive week made the 36-hole cut right on the number — last week at the Rocket Mortgage Classic in Detroit, and then this week with a birdie on the 18th in the second round. He tied for 29th last week, then tied for seventh this week.
This week was Garber's best showing on the PGA Tour; his previous best was a tie for 10th at the Puerto Rico Open in late February, though that was not a full-field event, opposite the World Golf Championships in Mexico City.
There are three more PGA Tour weeks before the FedEx Cup playoffs.
If Garber can jump into the 150, the PGA Tour next season will feature three Michigan natives, including Jackson's Brian Stuard, who played at Oakland, and Brehm.
Speaking more of Brehm, he already was getting texts from his fellow Spartan brethren Sunday.
"I'm proud to represent Michigan State," said Brehm, who won five individual titles as a student-athlete and three Big Ten team championships, and later was an assistant at Michigan State. "They've gone through a lot in the last couple years, and I know they're on the mend.
"There's a lot of great people that work at that institution."