Justin Lower was still in doubt when he left the scorer’s tent Sunday at the Korn Ferry Tour Championship presented by United Leasing & Finance. He hadn’t looked at the PGA TOUR app besides to look at the Forme Tour scores throughout the week. He also hadn’t looked at the leaderboard all week, and he didn’t know if the 3-under 33 he’d put together on the back was enough to get him inside the Korn Ferry Tour Finals top 25 and secure his first PGA TOUR card.
He got his answer when he walked down the stairs and was greeted with a champagne and beer shower by his fellow players and caddies. Fittingly for the 11-year-pro, who missed his TOUR card by a single shot in 2018, it once again all came down to a shot – a 30-yard pitch on the 72nd hole. After losing his drive left on the 72nd hole and leaving his second shot 30 yards short, he hit a beautiful nipper to a foot and knocked it in for par and a T15 to send him to the PGA TOUR for the first time.
Choked up with emotion after, Lower struggled to find the words.
“No words really,” Lower said. “It means everything, and I don’t think this is it. I don’t think my journey is over at all. I think it’s just getting started.”
In typical Justin Lower class, though, he wasn’t thinking about himself but rather Taylor Montgomery, his fellow competitor who he’d knocked into the 26th spot. Montgomery had also finished 26th in the Regular Season standings and fallen just shy of his TOUR card.
“Taylor Montgomery, if you’re listening, I’ve been in your spot before and I know it’s not any fun but oh man, you’re a heck of player and just keep grinding. Good things will happen,” Lower said. “To everyone back home, thank you for everything and that’s all I can say.”
Lower admittedly had watched the video of himself missing a putt on the 72nd hole in 2018 to miss his card by a shot “too many times to count” but realized he needed to relive successes not failures. He even started seeing a therapist two to three years ago to work on removing the negative thoughts, and it has helped. He now thinks of the negative thoughts as being like waves at the ocean, coming and going, and all that matters is where his feet are. So, he started watching the video of him 2017 making a birdie on the last hole at Q-School to secure guaranteed starts instead.
During the Korn Ferry Tour Finals, every time he needed to perform, he shined. Whether it was the five birdies in a row to close out the second round at the start of the Korn Ferry Tour Finals in Boise to make the cut on the number or the back nine 33 on the one of the hardest golf courses of the season, Lower brought it. It’s something he can lean on going forward as he makes the jump to the TOUR.
“[I learned] that I can do it,” Lower said. “I told myself this week something I’ve really never told myself on the golf course and that’s just trust yourself. And I told myself that most of today and a lot of this week. And it’s something I’ve never really told myself. So, something that I just have to take into the long run for sure.”
In total, his journey to the TOUR included six trips to Korn Ferry Tour Qualifying School. It took him three trips before he made it to final stage and earned guaranteed starts and countless heartbreaks.
“This is just so gratifying for the hard work and just extremely thankful,” Lower said.
“It’s just amazing what one shot can mean in the long run.”