Headed to the Big Time

Former Air Force Academy golfer Kyle Westmoreland birdies final hole of Korn Ferry Finals and earns last PGA Tour card available; former Buff Yannik Paul makes run, but narrowly misses gaining PGA Tour status

By Gary Baines – 9/4/2022

Kyle Westmoreland never felt so satisfied in the wake of a 52nd-place finish on the golf course.

The former Air Force Academy golfer — and subsequent Colorado resident — placed 52nd on Sunday in the Korn Ferry Tour Championship in Newburgh, Ind. So what’s the big deal about that?

It was just enough to earn Westmoreland a PGA Tour card for the first time in his career. With 25 cards available through the Korn Ferry Tour Finals, which ended Sunday, Westmoreland finished — you guessed it — 25th in the Finals standings.

So after just one full season on the KFT, Westmoreland landed his PGA Tour card for the 2022-23 season, which begins on Sept. 15. He’s competed in five PGA Tour events in his career, with his lone made cut coming at the 2021 U.S. Open, where he finished 68th in the first appearance in a major golf championship by an AFA alum.

Former Colorado resident Kyle Westmoreland needed just one full season on the Korn Ferry Tour before earning his PGA Tour card.

“It’s been a lifetime” dream of being on the PGA Tour, Westmoreland told Golf Channel on Sunday. “From the time you’re little, growing up hitting golf balls, then watching these guys out here go out and succeed and get their cards and win. This is a huge steppingstone. It means a lot.”

Westmoreland becomes the first AFA graduate to land a PGA Tour card. Starting in the 2022-23 season, the card comes with an added bonus. The recently announced Earnings Assurance Program guarantees $500,000 — paid up front to rookies — to PGA Tour members who compete in at least 15 events in a season. Any golfer earning more than $500,000 in prize money for a season will keep that extra amount — in addition to the guaranteed $500k. If a player falls short of a half-million in official earnings for the season, he will still be paid that amount by the Tour.

Westmoreland, a 2014 Academy grad who lived in Colorado Springs and Broomfield from 2017-19 during his active-duty stint before moving to Charleston, S.C., missed the cut in the KFT Finals opener, but tied for ninth last weekend in the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship before his 52nd-place showing at the Korn Ferry Tour Championship.

Westmoreland was on the bubble — right around the 25th-place position in the Finals standings — for much of Sunday. In fact, when he birdied his final hole — No. 9 — from 3 feet — he didn’t know it would be enough because a lot of players remained on the course that could further affect the standings. But his performance did indeed stand up.

Westmoreland closed with an even-par 72, overcoming a double bogey on his 14th hole (No. 5) and ending up at 6 under par for the week.

“Kind of like Q-school, every single shot counts,” the 30-year-old said. “We rinsed one earlier in the round, so we were trying to battle back from that. I was just happy to get (a birdie) on the last hole.

“… We definitely faced some adversity today — didn’t have our best stuff — but we finished with a birdie.”  

Westmoreland celebrates with family after finishing Sunday’s round.

Westmoreland, whose parents and wife flew in Thursday to watch him compete in the Korn Ferry Tour Championship, finished the KF Tour season with three top-10 finishes — two sevenths and a ninth. He also placed 23rd at The Ascendant presented by Blue at TPC Colorado in July.

Another player with strong Colorado ties — former University of Colorado golfer Yannik Paul, a DP World competitor who currently resides east of Boulder — also made a run at a PGA Tour card on Sunday. But in his case, he fell a little short.

Paul actually was inside the Finals 25 briefly on Sunday, but a bogey on the 18th hole — his only one of the day — dropped him to 37th in the standings. He finished 17th this week at the Korn Ferry Tour Championship. Paul has posted three top-10 finishes on the DP World Tour this season.

Here are the final Korn Ferry Tour Finals standings.