There’s another McCumber on the PGA Tour.
Nearly 25 years after Jacksonville native Mark McCumber won the last of his 10 titles at the Tour Championship, his son Tyler has earned his card thanks to a finish of 22nd on the final regular-season points list on the Korn Ferry Tour.
The top-25 clinched their PGA Tour cards for 2020.
McCumber, a Nease graduate, moved up a spot on the final list with a tie for 18th on Sunday at the Winco Foods Portland Open. McCumber finished strong with a 66 and shot 12-under-par 272 at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club in North Plains, Ore.
Another Nease graduate, Vince Covello, was among the proud owners of a Tour card with a 20th-place finish. McCumber and Covello are the first Nease graduates to be exempt on the Tour since Len Mattiace.
Also earning PGA Tour cards from the area are Lanto Griffin of Ponte Vedra Beach (sixth on the points list), Sebastian Cappelen of Ponte Vedra (16th) and Tim Wilkinson of Jacksonville Beach (24th).
McCumber was the only player in the group to make the cut at Pumpkin Ridge. He entered the week at No. 23 and in a bit of precarious position but once he made the cut his card was assured and he and his father now become the first father-son team on the First Coast to have been fully exempt members of the PGA Tour.
“It’s a cool thing to be a part of,” McCumber said. “He has been so supportive of me the whole way. My whole family has been so supportive of each other, no matter what we do, whether it’s playing golf or anything. I feel like anything we do as McCumbers is a team effort.”
McCumber’s cousin Josh is his caddie.
“I knew it would lead to a fun year,” he said. “You’re on the road with a best friend and family member, sharing Airbnbs … it was fun and a great experience.”
McCumber actually began his run at the PGA Tour last year, when he won the Order of Merit on the Mackenzie Tour-Canada to earn his Korn Ferry card for the second time. He won three times and has six top-10 finishes.
McCumber started out well on the Korn Ferry Tour with four top-10 finishes and six top-15s among his first eight starts, giving him the points lead for one week.
However, he hit a snag in July when he developed a stomach parasite. He battled the condition for a month and lost 10 pounds.
“It just took a long time to get back in the mix,” he said. “When you lose weight and can’t work out and can’t play golf, it’s just hard to get the momentum back. I finally started feeling good two weeks ago. I was able to get back to the gym, practice, eat a meal.”
McCumber turned professional in 2013 after playing for the Florida Gators for four years. He is the only player in history to earn a Korn Ferry Tour card off both the Mackenzie Tour and PGA Tour Latinoamerica, but lost his KF card after the 2015 season and needed three years to get back.
“It dragged out a little longer than I expected,” he said of earning his PGA Tour card at the age of 28. “But I think the things I learned the first five years were monumental to have a successful year … all the lessons. It was a bit later than I planned for but I’m there now, so no point thinking about it now.”
Covello, 36, was one of the more heart-warming stories of the 2019 season. He won in Louisiana in his 80th Korn Ferry Tour start and has reached the PGA Tour after 16 seasons and seven pro tours in the U.S. and overseas.
“It’s been the driving force in my life for a long time,” he said. “There’s a lot you have to give up to chase your dreams. It’s cool to see it pay off.”
None of the area players were sweating more than Wilkinson, who finished 57 points ahead of No. 26 Chris Baker of Atlantic Beach.
Wilkinson, a 41-year-old native of New Zealand, has reached the PGA Tour for the eighth time. He said a year of changing his diet and working out more paid off.
“To get back to the PGA Tour at 41, when the game is changing so dramatically, is really special,” he said. “This year I picked up a lot of swing speed … distance off the tee [and] my putting has gotten better. Hopefully those things will continue to progress as they have done the last year.”
Baker, Steve Wheatcroft (43rd on the points list) of Jacksonville, Blayne Barber (63rd) of Lake City and Luke Guthrie (66th) of Ponte Vedra can still earn their Tour cards off the three-tournament Korn Ferry Finals series that begins this week in Columbus, Ohio. The regular-season top-25 players can also play in the Finals to improve their priority status for next season.