Five things we’ve learned from the first four Korn Ferry Tour events
5 Min Read
Written by Adam Stanley @adam_stanley
With four events in the books and five weeks to go until the Korn Ferry Tour’s schedule gets going again, it’s time to take a look at what we learned from the first four weeks – including Chandler Phillips’ strong start and four other noteworthy stories.
1. Chandler Phillips begins with a bang
Former Texas A&M All-American Chandler Phillips notched his first professional victory at the first event of the 2023 Korn Ferry Tour season – and he couldn’t have drawn up a better start.
Phillips backed up his first-place finish at The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay with a tie for 12th at The Bahamas Great Abaco Classic at The Abaco Club and after the first four events of the season he’s on top of the Regular Season Points List.
Phillips had a decorated college career while at Texas A&M and was named to three Palmer Cup teams – the highlight coming in 2019 when he defeated Keita Nakajima (formerly the No.1-ranked player in the World Amateur Golf Ranking) in match play.
Phillips – who continues to rock quite the mustache – also competed against former Korn Ferry Tour Player of the Year Scottie Scheffler while in high school at Texas and, at 26, is on the fast-track to earning a PGA TOUR card for the first time.
72nd-hole coverage: Chandler Phillips wins Bahamas Great Exuma Classic
2. Cody Blick's attitude adjustment
Cody Blick lost in a playoff at the second event of the season but told PGATOUR.com he’s never had that much fun in 15 minutes of golf in his life. Embracing the grind and the challenge and the moment has been top-of-mind for Blick so far this season, and its lead him to second in the Points List through four events.
Blick, who returned from a serious back injury after the COVID-impacted seasons of 2020 and 2021 played poorly last season, by his own admission, and it resulted in a trip back to Korn Ferry Tour Q-School. He earned guaranteed starts in 2023 via making it to Final Stage and he capitalized quickly after a tie for second and then the playoff loss in the first two events of the year.
At 29, and after working hard to return to top form after what could have been a career-ending back injury, Blick’s as committed as ever to earning a PGA TOUR card for the first time. His play so far has left him smiling even more than usual, and that happy-go-lucky attitude will continue to be something he’ll lean on more as the season continues.
3. Pierceson Coody continues to impress
Pierceson Coody wins the 2023 Panama Championship
It didn’t take long for Pierceson Coody to make his presence felt after turning pro last season. He was No.1 on the PGA TOUR University presented by Velocity Global Class of 2022 and it took him only two tournaments of warm-up before he found the winner’s circle in his third Korn Ferry Tour start as a pro.
This year Coody has had just as impressive a start – winning The Panama Championship in a playoff after a tidy Sunday 66. Coody, who recovered from an arm injury this winter, won for the second time on the Korn Ferry Tour in just 14 starts.
Coody was five shots back after 54 holes but shot 4-under 66 and after a multi-hour wait ended in a three-man playoff. Coody made short work of the playoff, knocking his approach on the first hole to just a foot. The win came after Coody missed the first two cuts of the season (“To say I wasn’t very high on my game would be an understatement,” he said) but with a win already under his belt and time to continue to get back to 100 percent health, look for more solid results from Coody to come soon.
4. Veteran Presence
Both Ben Silverman and Rhein Gibson have been part of the PGA TOUR before and they’re not ready to ride off into the sunset yet.
The 35- and 37-year-old, respectively, have won two of the first four Korn Ferry Tour events to start the season and are in the early conversation to earn one of the 30 PGA TOUR cards available at the end of the season.
Silverman captured The Bahamas Great Abaco Classic at The Abaco Club in a playoff (he was in the field on a sponsor exemption and won the celebrity division of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am alongside partner Aaron Rodgers the very next week) while Gibson won the Astra Golf Championship on Sunday. It was the second career Korn Ferry Tour victories for both the long-time pros.
While plenty of focus this season has been on the college stars like Coody and Phillips, Silverman and Gibson’s early-season efforts have shown that you should never count out the veterans either.
5. Chase for #TOURBound firmly underway
Phillips and Blick are Nos. 1 and 2 in The 30, while Gibson is No. 3 and Coody and Silverman are tied for fourth.
But just because it’s the early part of the season doesn’t mean that the race for The 30 isn’t very much underway.
As a quick reminder, the Korn Ferry Tour is offering 30 PGA TOUR cards at the end of this season – up from 25, the magic number for 15 years.
There will no longer be separate points standings for the pre-Finals and Finals events, but instead, the cumulative Korn Ferry Tour Points List will offer 2024 PGA TOUR membership to the top 30 finishers.
David Skinns is currently in the 30th spot, just four points ahead of Cristobal Del Solar at No.31. Other notables inside The 30 now include: Sam Saunders (11), Brandon Harkins (15), Akshay Bhatia (17), and Joey Garber (29).