Ryan McCormick knew what he wanted to do from Day 1.
From being one of the best high school golfers in New Jersey to helping St. John’s University win its first Big East Championship since 1989 during the 2014 season, and then making a huge impact on the Korn Ferry Tour, the goal was simple: Become a PGA Tour member.
That’s way easier said than done, which McCormick learned over the last three years. The journey to getting the card and solidifying himself as a top-level pro was tougher than driving from Central New Jersey to Seaside Heights in the middle of the summer. But it was the detours and the obstacles in his path that made the moment last month that much sweeter.
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“Kind of surreal,” he told Fox News Digital in a recent interview when reflecting on making the PGA Tour. “It’s been overwhelming to just sit back and think about the journey the last month or so. Gosh, I’ve traveled around the whole world to try to do this thing. I’ve been to Asia, I’ve been to Canada, I’ve been to Latin America, played on almost every major tour in the world you can play on.”
“To get it done this year was really satisfying after coming close. Really, the last two years being so close … It’s satisfying for all the people that have helped me for so long, for the people that have been coaching me, just gratifying. Just awesome to be able to celebrate with all of them.”
McCormick was initially a conditional member of the Korn Ferry Tour at the start of the 2020 season and had a tough time qualifying before the coronavirus pandemic shut everything down. McCormick said that once he got an inkling the tour was going to come back during the summer, he drove to any open state and practiced as much as he could before getting back to competition.
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He returned to the course for the Korn Ferry Challenge and the King & Bear Classic in June 2020, which started his rise on the tour. He finished tied for 14th in the first tournament and tied for sixth in the next one – just a few strokes behind future PGA Tour pro Will Zalatoris in each event.
But the COVID-19 pandemic became McCormick’s first real obstacle.
The Korn Ferry Tour decided to go to a two-year season since 10 events were canceled or rescheduled in the spring. McCormick had a sputtered start to earn points in hopes of earning the PGA Tour card through the regular season. His best hope was to sneak in through the Korn Ferry Tour Finals, which consisted of the Albertsons Boise Open, Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship and capping it off with the Korn Ferry Tour Championship. The top 25 players get to be on the PGA Tour after the three events.
“After two events, I was 26th going into the tour championship, and I was playing really good toward the end of the year, had a good feeling about it,” McCormick told Fox News Digital. “And then, I wasn’t feeling awesome on Monday and Tuesday, and I tested positive for COVID.”
“Because it was the last event of the year, there was nothing I could do to play another week or anything. This was kind of it. So, I wasn’t able to play that week. I was 26th, one spot out, and I had to sit in a hotel room for a week. Thankfully, I was OK health-wise but it was painful to sit there and not be able to do anything, having been so close.”
McCormick had to try again in 2022.
He said he started off playing well and was inside the top 25 to make the cut for most of the year. However, he failed to make the cut in the penultimate regular-season tournament. In the last event, McCormick finished right below the cut line and finished 27th in the final standings.
“That was a pretty good, call it, a kick between the legs,” he said. “That happens repeatedly in this game as a professional – you kind of continually get gut-punched. And that was a really, really tough one to take.”
It was back to the drawing board in 2023, and it came with a change for the Korn Ferry Tour. The organization kept the points list going into the final three events instead of separating the regular season and postseason. The top 30 golfers received a PGA Tour card.
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McCormick finished the season with four top 10s and 10 top 25s and wrapped the year in 27th place to finally earn the PGA Tour card. He was all smiles at Victoria National Golf Club in Newburgh, Indiana, as he posted with his card, his friends and family and PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan.
He gave major praise to his team for keeping him in the right state of mind through all of the tough times he had to go through to get to where he is now.
“I am incredibly lucky and fortunate that I get to do what I love every day. I don’t take that for granted,” he told Fox News Digital. “I have been supported by people who have helped me out over the years financially and made that possible. “
“Yeah, certainly at times it sucks, but at the end of the day, I get to wake up and try to get better every day in doing something that I love.”
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McCormick will make his PGA Tour debut in January at the Sony Open in Hawaii.