Kristoffer Ventura had the record gallery with him Sunday at the Pinnacle Bank Championship for his second win on the Korn Ferry Tour in four weeks.
He said that wasn’t the case for the first one.
“At Utah there were a lot of people and they were rooting for the home guy (Daniel Summerhays),” said the Oklahoma State product after his two-stroke win over Andres Gonzales and Chad Ramey at Indian Creek.
“Here, it seemed like they were rooting for me when I made the putt on the last hole. It was just crazy. Because I don’t have many people with me, it was fun to see all the people here.”
The announced attendance of 16,879, who took advantage of cooler weather after a four-hour weather delay to start the final round, was the largest Sunday crowd in the three years since the tour returned to Omaha. Ventura said it was the most people he’s seen in his short time on the tour.
He won’t be on it long, either. The 500 points — he also collected $108,000 of the $600,000 purse — jumped him to No. 6 in the season standings, and he’ll be on the PGA Tour next season.
“It means everything. It seems so far from the Monday qualifiers, but little by little I started getting confidence,” he said. “To be here now, and now on the PGA Tour, it’s incredible.
“Winning (Sunday) is a bonus. It could have been anyone. Sometimes you play your best and that’s not good enough, and sometimes it is. For me this week and Utah were good enough, obviously. Especially coming off two missed cuts, to bounce back and still have confidence I could win out here, I’m pleased and happy and excited about next year.”
Ventura, whose start in the sport in a non-golfing family was at age 3, was born in Mexico and moved to Norway when he was 12. He was on Oklahoma State’s 2018 national championship team with recent PGA Tour winner Matthew Wolff and Viktor Hovland, who recently turned pro after being low amateur at the Masters and U.S. Open.
“I’ll see you in a few months, Matt,” he said for a tour video. “It will be fun to battle again together like we did in college and hopefully have Viktor with us. Just keep adding Oklahoma State guys and we’re going to represent them the best we can.”
Ventura’s career was set back by an appendectomy last fall — days before Q-school. He was cleared to play a day before the first round.
“I was hitting it like 230 yards and hitting into the desert all the time. It was just me and the rattlesnakes,” he said. “It’s funny now, but then I was not doing good. Honestly, shooting 2-under, I was pretty proud about that. That was my goal, to finish the tournament, but I only beat like four guys.”
Between then and now, he said, his two lowest points were learning that just because one makes it to the Q-school finals it doesn’t guarantee starts.
“Not playing any tournaments, what’s that all about,” he said. “That was brutal, having to play every single Monday (qualifier). And the second one was when I Monday-ed into the Alabama one, and I just had so much pressure because I knew I had to take advantage of that week and I missed the cut.
“I got home and I was so bummed I had to go back to Monday qualifiers. It’s been a roller- coaster ride, but to be here now is incredible.”
Ventura birdied the first three par-3s and finished at 16-under after a closing 1-under 70. Gonzales and Ramey shot 67s to finish at 14-under. Lanto Griffin, who started Sunday one behind Ventura and had the lead for a time on the front nine, faded to a 74 and tied for fourth.
Omahan Scott Gutschewski (67) tied for ninth. Luke Kluver of Norfolk, the only amateur to play this week, closed with a 79.
What will Ventura remember about Omaha?
“The win,” he said. “I mean, honestly, I’ve been on the course or in my hotel room. Nothing else. I’ve been to Chipotle like five times. That, and Carrabba’s, those are the two spots.
“That’s all I’ve done. I tell everyone like it’s great, but I wish I could go out and see things but I don’t have the energy to spend three or four hours downtown. I like to do my own thing, stretch, work out and just rest. And that’s what I did this week.”
Scott Gutschewski is much closer to making the Korn Ferry Tour finals after his tie for ninth Sunday at the Pinnacle Bank Championship at Indian Creek.
The hometown pro’s 4-under 67, one stroke off the lowest scores of the weather-delayed final round, boosted him from 109th to 91st in points with three tournaments left.
“I’m not going to Springfield, it’s too tough to do after this week,” he said. “But I’ll play the last two and hopefully get a push into the top 75 and make the playoffs.”
Getting in the top 75 means the Korn Ferry Tour finals and a chance to play for spots on next season’s PGA Tour. If he misses, he still has tournaments remaining on his major medical exemption that he can use next year to stay on the Korn Ferry Tour.
Unlike everyone else in the final round in hotels or private housing, Gutschewski rode out the four-hour weather delay in starting times around home.
“This was like a normal Sunday morning. We went to 8 o’clock Mass and I was going to come over to the course, but we had the delay, so we went home and watched the British Open,” he said. “I’m five minutes away. It was like, ‘Time to go.’ We can go up whenever.
“It’s comfortable being at home. My wife (Amy) does a great job of taking care of me.”
Gutschewski finished with four birdies in the last six holes, though a bogey on the par-3 17th snuck in there.
“I played good,” he said. “I was losing my angles in my swing yesterday. I don’t know if I was tired or what, but lazy swings. I wasn’t sharp. I tried to focus on that today and hit it way better and made a couple putts coming in.”
Learning experience for Kluver
An 8-over 79 is not how Norfolk’s Luke Kluver, playing in front of his future college coach, wanted to wrap up his week.
“Obviously, I was super pleased to play today and to play four days is super exciting,” the incoming freshman at Kansas said. “But I got off to a terrible start.”
Kluver double-bogeyed his first hole, then a triple bogey on the next hole resulted from a two-stroke penalty for accidentally hitting the ball in a bunker and not moving it back before playing his shot.
“Unfortunate deal there. I just didn’t know the right ruling,” he said. “I had a couple shots I hit well that just missed the green. I was 15 feet from the hole, but two steps off the green.
“It was a good learning experience. I felt I hung in there all right, made a sweet putt on (Indian Creek’s) 17 in front of everyone. I had a good look on 18, and I think maybe if it catches the lip and falls in it could have jump-started something for the front nine.”
He said it was valuable for him to play two days with former Korn Ferry player and Omaha teaching pro Ryan Vermeer (Happy Hollow) and aspiring pro Kyle Westmoreland, then have tour pros on the weekend.
“I felt my game was good enough to play with them,” he said. “They limit their mistakes. I had more doubles than anyone the past two days. Obviously a rough weekend, but to make the cut was a huge deal.”
Kluver has been invited to the Canadian Amateur in Nova Scotia in August. He missed the deadline for entering U.S. Amateur qualifying. Shadow Ridge in Omaha has one of the 36-hole qualifiers Monday.
Kansas coach Jamie Bermel and his wife were in the gallery Sunday. Kluver drew the largest following around the course each of the first three days of the tournament.
» Ventura became the 10th 54-hole leader/co-leader to win this season. He joined Robby Shelton and Xinjun Zhang as the only players to win twice this year. He finished the week third in scrambling, converting 18 of 23 up-and-downs.
» Sharing second place were Andres Gonzales, who earned his best finish of the season and jumped 86 spots in points to 67th, and Chad Ramey, who is projected to have a spot in the playoffs.
» The par-4 11th hole (533 yards) ranked as the toughest on the course Sunday, playing to an average of 4.493.
» The par-5 seventh hole (559 yards) ranked as the easiest hole Sunday. The hole played to an average of 4.328 and yielded five eagles and 41 birdies.
In 2020, the PBC moves two weeks later to July 30 through Aug. 2 at Indian Creek. Hope the 115-degree heat indexes won’t follow it.
Ventura came to the 18th hole with a two-stroke lead over two already in the clubhouse. He never really had been pushed down the stretch.
Sunday’s announced attendance of 16,879 was over 3,000 more than in 2018. The four-day total of 41,430 bettered last year’s 40,190. Having Gutschewski and Kluver around for the weekend was a boost.
“My line about Luke is he’s the cheapest and the most expensive caddie I’ve ever had. So he will not be getting a check. He’s getting tuition, room and board.” Gutschewski on son Luke, his caddie this week, who attends Elkhorn Mount Michael.
At Indian Creek
Yardage: 7,581; Par 71
Kristoffer Ventura, $108,000 67-64-67-70—268 -16
Andres Gonzales, $52,800 67-67-69-67—270 -14
Chad Ramey, $52,800 66-67-70-67—270 -14
Jamie Arnold, $22,620 68-69-68-68—273 -11
Joseph Bramlett, $22,620 69-67-71-66—273 -11
Brett Coletta, $22,620 70-65-72-66—273 -11
Lanto Griffin, $22,620 67-68-64-74—273 -11
Ethan Tracy, $22,620 70-68-69-66—273 -11
Zac Blair, $13,886 70-66-72-67—275 -9
Brian Campbell, $13,886 70-65-74-66—275 -9
Scott Gutschewski, $13,886 70-65-73-67—275 -9
Tyson Alexander, $13,886 66-66-70-73—275 -9
Steven Ihm, $13,886 70-68-70-67—275 -9
Edward Loar, $13,886 67-70-70-68—275 -9
Byron Meth, $13,886 64-70-69-72—275 -9
MJ Daffue, $9,900 67-72-68-69—276 -8
Jonathan Randolph, $9,900 70-70-68-68—276 -8
Brett Drewitt, $8,100 71-69-70-68—278 -6
John Oda, $8,100 69-65-69-75—278 -6
Callum Tarren, $8,100 68-69-72-69—278 -6
Nicholas Thompson, $8,100 73-68-69-68—278 -6
Harry Higgs, $5,800 74-68-66-71—279 -5
Bo Hoag, $5,800 69-72-67-71—279 -5
Mark Hubbard, $5,800 69-69-73-68—279 -5
Denzel Ieremia, $5,800 69-69-69-72—279 -5
Zach Wright, $5,800 73-64-70-72—279 -5
Rhein Gibson, $4,520 71-66-73-70—280 -4
Scottie Scheffler, $4,520 69-71-70-70—280 -4
T.J. Vogel, $4,520 74-66-68-72—280 -4
Blake Cannon, $3,816 72-69-69-71—281 -3
Kyle Reifers, $3,816 69-70-72-70—281 -3
Davis Riley, $3,816 68-71-72-70—281 -3
Dawie van der Walt, $3,816 68-74-70-69—281 -3
Drew Weaver, $3,816 71-69-72-69—281 -3
Chris Baker, $2,990 71-70-72-69—282 -2
Rafael Campos, $2,990 72-70-69-71—282 -2
Trevor Cone, $2,990 73-69-70-70—282 -2
Billy Kennerly, $2,990 69-70-70-73—282 -2
Garrett Osborn, $2,990 72-68-70-72—282 -2
Conrad Shindler, $2,990 69-70-70-73—282 -2
Martin Flores, $2,164 70-72-69-72—283 -1
Ben Martin, $2,164 70-71-70-72—283 -1
Taylor Moore, $2,164 67-71-71-74—283 -1
Eric Steger, $2,164 69-71-69-74—283 -1
Max Greyserman, $2,164 68-70-75-70—283 -1
Ben Taylor, $2,164 70-71-71-71—283 -1
Andy Zhang, $2,164 73-69-65-76—283 -1
Steven Alker, $1,770 70-72-71-71—284 E
Blayne Barber, $1,770 72-69-68-75—284 E
Ben Kohles, $1,770 71-68-70-75—284 E
Thomas Bass, $1,695 70-71-72-72—285 +1
Andre Metzger, $1,695 68-73-75-69—285 +1
Will Cannon, $1,644 70-71-76-69—286 +2
J.T. Griffin, $1,644 71-70-73-72—286 +2
Tyler McCumber, $1,644 68-74-74-70—286 +2
Paul Haley II, $1,602 69-71-74-73—287 +3
Will Zalatoris, $1,602 71-71-70-75—287 +3
William Harrold, $1,572 73-69-75-71—288 +4
Horacio Leon, $1,572 69-72-71-76—288 +4
Joseph Winslow, $1,572 69-72-73-74—288 +4
Jon Curran, $1,542 71-71-73-74—289 +5
Matt Hill, $1,542 72-70-74-73—289 +5
Michael Hebert, $1,518 70-72-72-76—290 +6
Marcelo Rozo, $1,518 70-72-76-72—290 +6
Vince India, $1,500 69-73-74-75—291 +7
Sam Love, $1,488 71-70-73-78—292 +8
Luke Kluver, $0 71-71-76-79—297 +13