NAPA, Calif. – When Justin Lower chipped in for the second time of the day at Silverado Resort’s North Course, his new caddie, Chad Gonzales, turned to the other caddies in his threesome and said, “Time to go buy a lottery ticket.”
It was that type of day for Lower, who holed out on Nos. 5 and 7 en route to making birdie on the half the holes and opening a three-stroke lead when was play was suspended due to darkness in the first round of the Fortinet Championship.
Lower was the hard-luck loser, who three-jacked the 72nd hole of the regular season-ending Wyndham Championship from 61 feet to miss out on the FedEx Cup playoffs and, even worse, lose his status. In the aftermath, he gave an emotional interview.
Lower was exiled to the Korn Ferry Tour Finals to try to earn his card back. He had competed in the first two events and likely had locked up his Tour card for the new season with good finishes, but none of that mattered when six players defected to LIV Golf and Lower was suddenly full-exempt for the coming season for the first time in his career.
“It’s been kind of a whirlwind,” he said. “It sucked but it turned out for the better. … I’m just happy to be here.”
And taking advantage of his opportunity he did. Lower’s 63 was a career low for him on the PGA Tour and it marks the first time he’s held the lead after any round out a Tour event.