By Kevin Prise, PGATOUR.COM

Ryan McCormick logged an estimated 240,000 air miles last year, making his home in New Jersey but competing on the Asian Tour.

The 26-year-old fell short at Second Stage of the Tour Qualifying Tournament last November, but rather than make a return overseas, he opted to sign up for Monday qualifiers in 2018 and attempt to play his way onto the Tour.

McCormick didn’t need to look far for inspiration regarding this path: two years ago, he played with J.T. Poston in a Monday qualifier for the United Leasing & Finance Championship. McCormick fell short that week, but Poston qualified, finished inside the top 25 and ultimately parlayed the success into a PGA TOUR card.

After last week’s Savannah Golf Championship, McCormick has a chance to write a similar story.

Following a successful showing at the Monday qualifier, the St. John’s alum strung together rounds of 69-67-72-67 at The Landings Club (Deer Creek), including back-to-back birdies on the final two holes Sunday, en route to a T11 finish.

The showing earns McCormick entry into the North Mississippi Classic later this month, and with continued top-25 finishes, he can continue to earn Tour starts as he eyes eventual Tour status.

By amassing $42,128 of earnings, equal to No. 100 on last year’s money list (Michael Hebert), McCormick would earn Special Temporary Member status for the remainder of the season and become eligible for subsequent reshuffles. He earned $12,100 via his performance in Savannah.

Entering the final round on the Georgia coast, McCormick stood T21 at 8 under, knowing a low round would be required in order to secure a top-25 and play on. He was playing the first Tour Sunday of his professional career, having missed the cut in his two prior Tour appearances.

McCormick knew his play Sunday would be indicative regarding the state of his game and the prospects for his season.

Eight birdies later (offsetting one bogey and one double bogey), he delivered, rolling in a 25-foot birdie on the 72nd hole to finish three strokes inside the all-important top-25 number.

“It’s awesome and I feel great,” said McCormick following the final round at The Landings Club. “I knew going into today that I was going to be tested in my game and see where I was at under the gun.

“It was especially great to get a couple of birdies to fall on the back nine. I’m thrilled, man. I’m thrilled.”

McCormick represents the fine line of professional golf, the litany of professionals who have the talent to make an impact on the big stage when given the opportunity, albeit a difficult task given the scarcity of opportunities.

Upon graduating from St. John’s in 2014 with a degree in Sports Management, McCormick played two seasons on the Mackenzie Tour-PGA TOUR Canada, finishing 74th and 76th on the money list in 2014 and 2015, respectively.

In addition to last year’s stint on the Asian Tour, highlighted by a T24 at the Macao Open, he’s been playing on a variety of smaller circuits as he continues to chase the dream. He’s been spending a good deal of time recently in Sarasota, Florida, from where he made the approximately six-hour drive to Savannah – “right down the road,” he said with a laugh, considering the across-the-world flights from the New York area to Asia.

Despite the struggles in his attempt to earn Tour status, McCormick has been empowered by the support and guidance of those around him – including the membership at Suburban GC back home in New Jersey, swing guru Bernie Najar, AimPoint’s Mark Sweeney, and instructors at Plane Truth Golf.

But it’s all fueled by his consistent belief that he possesses the talent to someday play on the PGA TOUR.

“This is the culmination of a lot of really good things coming together,” McCormick said on a picturesque Sunday afternoon in Savannah. “I’m fortunate that back home … they’ve always believed in me. I always tell them, ‘I believe I can play on the PGA TOUR. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t waste your time, and I wouldn’t waste my time. I’d just go get a job.’

“That hasn’t faltered, and I feel great about my game right now.”

McCormick’s plan as he prepares for the North Mississippi Classic later this month in Oxford? He’s headed back to New Jersey to watch the Masters with family and friends – “That will be a little more fun now” – as he continues to hone his game.

Back in 2016, Poston followed his T23 in Indiana with a third-place finish at the Rex Hospital Open, securing Special Temporary Membership status then and there. He played the remainder of the Tour season, finished inside The 25 and earned his first PGA TOUR card.

After finishing in style in Savannah, it’s not unreasonable to think McCormick could do the same.

“It happens every year,” McCormick said of Monday qualifiers converting opportunities into status. “A lot of guys talk about it at the Mondays, and it’s certainly motivation for you to get out here.

“I had that mindset going into the year, see if I can’t Monday my way in, play well, get the ball rolling. I’ve gotten a couple of those things done now, and just hoping to keep it going.”

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