FALMOUTH — Justin Lower intimately knows how close he and his colleagues on the Korn Ferry Tour are to the PGA Tour. He has squeezed up against it like strangers in a packed elevator. In 2018, Lower had an 8-foot putt with a PGA Tour card on the line. He missed.

“Inches. It hit the hole,” Lower said after completing his third round of the Live and Work in Maine Open at Falmouth Country Club.

Lower is 26th in the Korn Ferry Tour standings entering this weekend’s tournament, and the top 25 will earn PGA Tour cards. This is his sixth season on the Korn Ferry Tour. He knows close isn’t enough. If you’re 26th after the Tour Championship the first weekend in September at Victoria National Golf Course in Newburgh, Indiana, you’re as far from the PGA Tour as the 100th player.

Lower shot a 4-under 67 Saturday, putting him at 6 under for the tournament with one day to go. He’s one of a handful of players either in the top 25 or hovering around it who squeaked into the final two rounds at 2 under, right on the cutline.

The Saturday of a pro golf tournament has been called the least important day in golf. For these players, moving day was a chance to continue their push toward the ultimate goal of leaving the Korn Ferry Tour behind in favor of a spot on the PGA Tour.

“I think all of us around the 25 are thinking about it, but at the end of the day, all of us just want to win,” said Dylan Wu, who is playing his second season on the Korn Ferry Tour. The 24-year-old Wu is back on the Korn Ferry Tour after tying for 31st place at the U.S. Open last week. Saturday, he shot a 7-under 64. In 18 holes, Wu went from barely making the cut to being in contention for the win. At 9 under overall, he’s four shots behind leader Chad Ramey.


“Last week, playing in the U.S. Open and playing well gave me a lot of confidence,” he said.

David Kocher is 25, in his first full season on the Korn Ferry Tour, and in 33rd place in the standings. Saturday, he arguably hit the two best shots of the day. First, Kocher eagled the par-4 fourth hole, holing a pitching wedge from 135 yards. Kocher’s shot took a couple bounces and went in.

On the par-4 18, Kocher did it again, this time from 208 yards for his second eagle of the round.

“I had just missed a short birdie putt from about 3 feet on 17 and was pretty pissed off. I had a good drive out there (on 18), and had 208 (yards) in. I thought it was going to be a pretty good shot. It hit on the green and just rolled right in the hole. I couldn’t see it go in, but everyone freaked out,” Kocher said.

Kocher shot a 6-under 65, bringing him to 8 under for the tournament. Thinking about where he is in the standings during a round would be futile, he said, wasting brain power that’s needed to focus on the task at hand.

“I’m just thinking about the next shot, just stick to my process. Me and my coach and a lot of people around me. I’m right around the bubble, but stick to what I’m good at and stick to my process and hopefully that will be good enough at the end,” Kocher said.


Brandon Wu (no relation to Dylan), who won the Korn Ferry Tour championship last year and is in his first full season on the tour, is in 11th place in the standings. He’s not quite a mathematical lock for a PGA Tour card yet, but he’s close. Friday, he had to make a 6-foot putt on his final hole to make the cut.

“I can guarantee you that you feel the same nerves as if you’re making a 6-footer to win,” Brandon Wu said after shooting a 1-under 70 Saturday. “I actually feel like if I focus on doing my own thing and trying to play well, the points will take care of (themselves). I’m fortunate to be in a good position, which is a little more comforting than maybe some of the other guys out here.”

Lower, Kocher and Dylan Wu also could recite big shots made Friday that allowed them to finish on the right side of the cutline.

“I birdied my last hole yesterday just to be here on the weekend. I’m just trying to grind it out. We don’t have a lot of events left. It’s getting kind of down to that time,” Lower said. “Hopefully get a good round tomorrow and get some rest and hope for a good finish.”

Saturday’s 67 was Lower’s lowest round of the tournament thus far, even with what he described as a pair of careless bogeys. Lower is close.

He also knows what close gets him.

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