Capt. Kyle Westmoreland becomes the first Falcon to get his card.
By Jon Rizzi
Whether it results from a hosel rocket off a tree or purely struck 5-iron, an eagle will count the same on the scorecard.
The same principle holds true for graduating from the Korn Ferry Tour to the PGA TOUR. It ultimately doesn’t really matter if you’re one of “The 25” atop the points list (such as No. 4 Zecheng “Marty” Dou, the winner of this year’s Ascendant at TPC Colorado) or the 25th out of the second wave of 25 players who are eligible to advance in the season-ending 2022 Korn Ferry Tour Championship at Victoria National Golf Club in Newburgh, Ind. (Sept. 1-4).
That 25th guy was U.S. Air Force Academy graduate Kyle Westmoreland, whose 6-under 282 (69-70-71-72) earned him that prized final slot.
The first USAFA player ever to secure a PGA TOUR card, Captain Westmoreland will get his first test as a card-carrying PGA TOUR pro tomorrow, as he tees off in the last group off hole 10, in the PGA TOUR’s season opening Fortinet Championship at Napa’s Silverado Golf Course.
“It looks like I’m going to play between one and four times during the fall season,” he said. “The fall’s important because there’s a reshuffle within the (2nd 25) category after that, which helps get into tournaments in the spring.”
Napa won’t be Westmoreland’s first PGA TOUR event. He played on sponsor exemptions in last October’s Shriner’s Children’s Open and this February’s Honda Classic, missing the cut in both. And a positive COVID test kept him out of November’s RSM Classic in Sea Island.
Earlier last year, as the first Falcon to qualify for a major championship, he made the cut in the U.S. Open, ultimately finishing T68.
Westmoreland, who’s 30 and no relation to the Vietnam War General William Westmoreland, was one of the best golfers in Air Force Academy history, twice finishing ahead of future PGA TOUR star Xander Schauffle of San Diego State in the Mountain West Conference championships. After graduating from the Colorado Springs institution in 2014, he served as a captain for five years, mostly stateside, squeezing in swings and putts when he could.
On deployments he’d resort to putting on a ruler when the local course’s greens didn’t roll true.
His military training instilled a strong sense of mission and teamwork. Dead-eye focused on qualifying for the PGA TOUR, in 2022 he recorded three Top 10 finishes on the Korn Ferry Tour and earned $122,575. When asked about his quest, he invariably answers with “we” instead of “I.”
At the Korn Ferry Tour Championship, he and his wife Erin sweated out the final tally. A birdie at Victoria National’s 18th had put him at six-under for the tournament—as squarely on the bubble as he could be. Upon learning he’d made it, he kissed Erin and turned to the assembled officials and media.
“I don’t drink,” he said. “But I need a beer.”
Hear more from Kyle Westmoreland during his post-round interview:
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