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When might it hit Ryan Brehm that he's going back to the PGA Tour?

Soon enough. More specifically, perhaps when he's not stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic, trying to get to the airport, where he'll fly off to suburban Denver for his 13th consecutive week of tournament competition.

That was his Monday, fresh off Sunday's sudden-death playoff victory in the LECOM Health Challenge on the Korn Ferry Tour in someplace called Findley Lake, New York.

"My celebration is going to be able to get home," said Brehm, a Mount Pleasant native and current Traverse City resident. "I haven't been home in 12 weeks.

"That's gonna be my celebration."

Brehm, 33, earned his second victory on the Korn Ferry Tour (formerly the Web.com Tour), and in doing so bumped his season earnings to $232,276, fourth on the Tour this season — more than enough to earn himself his PGA Tour card for the 2019-20 season.

This will be the second go-around on the PGA Tour for Brehm, who played the 2016-17 season on the PGA Tour.

That year, he had 17 of 25 cuts with one top-25, earning nearly $400,000, but not enough to keep his playing privileges. He's been on the Korn Ferry the last two years.

Brehm, a former Michigan State golfer and assistant coach, said he's better prepared for the leap this time around.

"I mean, my attitude needed to improve," he said, from the car Monday. "The bottom line is that the caliber of play is so close to being the exact same. It's just an absolute razor-thin line between playing on the Korn Ferry or playing on the PGA Tour. I don't think the average person understands how close it is.

"So, you know, if you're going to be a professional golfer, I think you need to accept that and try to keep getting better, wherever that leads you."

Specifically, Brehm said he figures to be better at time management and energy management this time around.

And there's more he's learned, too.

"I could write a book on that," he said.

Brehm had several close calls to victory this season, and finished a shot out of a playoff the week before his latest breakthrough win.

He took a two-stroke lead to the 72nd hole Sunday, and faced a 134-yard third shot to the par 5. Problem was, his ball found a sand-filled divot. His approach came up short, he made double-bogey, and all of a sudden he found himself in a playoff.

On his way to the 18th tee, he walked with wife Chelsey. They had a quiet chat, his arm round her. But there was nothing profound. He found himself remarkably calm.

"I was never down," Brehm said. "I did everything in my mind I thought I needed to do, and, you know, there was still golf to be played.

"This happened the last time I won, too. I was surprisingly calm, and I don't know why. I'm not always that way."

Brehm made up for the double in regulation to make birdie on the first playoff hole, his 8-footer rolling all the way around the cup before dropping in.

It was good for the victory over Tim Wilkinson.

He previously won on the Web.com Tour in 2016.

Brehm said he appreciates the Korn Ferry Tour, though he acknowledged life on the PGA Tour is substantially better. 

"Everything. You can add a zero to your paycheck, which is nice," Brehm said. "You get better meals, which is nice. Courtesy cars. The list goes on and on."

Brehm will be one of at least two Michigan men on the PGA Tour for the 2019-20 season, along with Jackson's Brian Stuard, the Oakland alum who has been a long-time member of the PGA Tour. Petoskey's Joey Garber, who moved up nicely in the FedEx Cup standings with a seventh-place showing at the 3M Open in suburban Minneapolis, needs another strong finish or two to secure full privileges for a sophomore season.

In his first go-around on the PGA Tour, Brehm started off nicely, with four made cuts in a row and nine of 10, including a tie for 18th in his second start.

But Brehm struggled from there, and he missed the cut in four of his last seven events.

He struggled on the Korn Ferry Tour the following season, before righting the ship this year. He's played 17 tournaments, with 11 made cuts and five top-10 finishes.

"Playing golf for a living, it has its ups and downs," Brehm said. "It's definitely my dream, but it comes with some sacrifice. I don't get to see my family very much, traveling week to week can get monotonous, and it can lead to some negative thinking. You're never gonna be successful in this game if you don't have the right attitude.

"Of course, it's true in life. Everybody's job in life sucks at some point."

It sucks a whole lot less these days for Brehm, who after playing in Denver will take two weeks off to head back to Traverse City.

Then, only then, will the celebration begin.

tpaul@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @tonypaul1984

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