NORTH PLAINS, Ore.—Harry Higgs locked up his PGA TOUR card when he won the Price Cutter Charity Championship two weeks ago. Sunday, it became official. The 2019 PGA TOUR Latinoamérica Player of the Year finished the year No. 5 on the Korn Ferry Tour points list. Higgs’ year-long performance gives him PGA TOUR membership for the first time, an amazing turn of events. Two years ago, he held no status on any PGA TOUR-affiliated Tour, and a year ago at this time, he was 16th on the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica Order of Merit and looking like he would be going to the Korn Ferry Tour Qualifying Tournament. A full season on the 2019-20 PGA TOUR now awaits the Southern Methodist graduate and Dallas resident.
“It’s just been a slight, steady progression over and over and seeing a few good results here and there. I always knew I was capable of winning. But to do it last year was huge and then to finish the year the way I did and to be No. 1 after a full season was huge,” said Higgs of his Diners Club Peru Open win and his No. 1 finish on the 2018 PGA TOUR Latinoamérica Order of Merit. “I wanted to see how last season measured up, to see if I would keep having the same feelings, keep hitting the same shots. I wanted to see how that translated to this level.
“I certainly got better this year,” continued Higgs, who has never played in a PGA TOUR tournament. “There wasn’t any need to change or revamp. What I did at the end of last year is what I did for the entirety of this year, and it stacked up pretty well.”
Higgs is the only player who finished in the top five on the 2018 PGA TOUR Latinoamérica Order of Merit to move on to the PGA TOUR, but several alums from previous years will be joining Higgs. Nelson Ledesma, with 93 career PGA TOUR Latinoamérica starts, is also going to the PGA TOUR for the first time. He has played in one previous TOUR tournament, the 2012 Puerto Rico Open. Ledesma won the Korn Ferry Tour’s TPC Colorado Championship in July and added a runner-up finish at the KC Golf Classic in Kansas City, a tie for third at the Lincoln Land Championship and three other top-10s.
American Zac Blair played seven PGA TOUR Latinoamérica tournaments in 2014 and has 120 career PGA TOUR tournament starts on his resume. Blair, a Utah native, ensured his PGA TOUR card when he won the Ellie Mae Classic in California last week. He finished 12th on the final Regular Season points list. Puerto Rico’s Rafael Campos played 56 PGA TOUR Latinoamérica tournaments between 2012 and 2015. In the second event of the season, in January, at The Bahamas Great Abaco Classic, Campos became the first Puerto Rican to win a Korn Ferry Tour event. It was his only top-10 until he tied for seventh two weeks ago at the Price Cutter Charity Championship. He finished 18th.
American Tyler McCumber, the 2018 Mackenzie Tour – PGA TOUR Canada Player of the Year, who counts three wins on PGA TOUR Latinoamérica and three victories on the Mackenzie Tour, entered this week’s WinCo Foods Portland Open precariously close to the top 25 cut off. He was 23rd but shot four under-par rounds (70-67-69-66; tied for 18th) to move to 22nd and follow in his father’s footsteps to the PGA TOUR. Mark McCumber played the TOUR full-time from 1979 to 1996, winning 10 times—including the 1988 PLAYERS Championship and the 1994 TOUR Championship.
Americans Charlie Saxon, Tyson Alexander and Austin Smotherman and Colombia’s Marcelo Rozo and Nicolas Echavarría retained their Korn Ferry Tour playing privileges and will attempt to earn their PGA TOUR cards in the upcoming three-tournament Finals that feature the 26-through-100 players on the Korn Ferry Tour points list and the 75 players who didn’t qualify for the PGA TOUR’s FedExCup Playoffs. An additional 15 players who are either Special Temporary Members or playing with medical exemptions are also entered. The top-25 finishers in the Finals will also earn 2019-20 PGA TOUR membership.
Echavarría moved from 84th to the 75th position with his performance here this week, shooting a final-round 69 to tie for 24th.
Even with their finishes, Higgs, Ledesma, Blair, Campos and McCumber will all play in all three Finals events as they attempt to improve their statuses.