Golf

This Kansan is headed to the PGA Tour thanks to strong season in golf’s minor leagues

Michael Gellerman won the KC Golf Classic at Blue Hills Country Club in Kansas City this spring. Now he has his PGA Tour Card.
Michael Gellerman won the KC Golf Classic at Blue Hills Country Club in Kansas City this spring. Now he has his PGA Tour Card. Special to The Star/Eagle

Michael Gellerman enjoyed the biggest win of his professional golf career this spring in Kansas City, and now he is going to get a chance to compete against the best players in the game.

Gellerman, who grew up in Sterling, Kansas, qualified to play on the PGA Tour next season by finishing 21st in this season standings on the PGA’s Korn Ferry Tour.

Gellerman used a victory in the KC Golf Classic in May as a springboard to getting his PGA Tour card. He got to play in front of his parents and fiancee as well as a lot of friends in Kansas City while winning by 1 stroke over Harry Higgs and Nelson Ledesma, who also earned spots on the PGA Tour for next season.

“It was really, really exciting,” Gellerman said. “I won on Mother’s Day, so that was a pretty cool moment. I had a lot of support that week and was lucky enough to get it done.”

That victory helped Gellerman achieve a goal he had for a long time.

“I’ve always played very competitively,” he said. “I played a lot growing up. I always knew making the PGA Tour was my dream.”

While Gellerman has made that happen now, he learned a lesson in overcoming adversity several years earlier.

Gellerman broke both of his wrists while playing pickup basketball during his freshman year at Sterling High School. He missed the regular season but was ready to for the regional, which he won before going on to capture the first of his three state high school crowns.

Gellerman went on to play in college at Oklahoma before turning pro. While things didn’t always go smoothly for Gellerman, he realized that making the PGA Tour was a possible reality once he got to the Web.com Tour (now the Korn Ferry Tour).

“I figured out I am pretty close and that if I could get a little bit better and mature, it could happen,” he said. “Sure enough I have had a pretty good year this year and will get my crack at it.”

Gellerman, 27, said he was excited that he showed signs of improvement from the past this year. His season included three top-25 finishes in 21 regular-season Korn Ferry Tour events, highlighted by his triumph in Kansas City.

“It’s tough. It’s such a long season,” Gellerman said. “You are going to have ups and downs. You just hope you can take advantage of your ups. Fortunately I did that this year.”

Gellerman said ball striking is the best part of his game, but he finds it hard to be consistent.

“The days that are really good, I make a few more putts,” he said. “The days that are average, I just can’t get the putts to go in as often.”

Gellerman said he was thrilled to be making the PGA Tour at the same time as Higgs. Gellerman said they played a lot of junior golf together and competed against each other some in high school and college. Higgs graduated from Blue Valley North in Overland Park and attended SMU.

“We’ve become better friends now than we have ever been” Gellerman said. “We stay together on the road a pretty decent amount. It’s been pretty cool to share some success. He’s had a phenomenal year.”

Higgs said that he and Gellerman have a very similar approach to life as well as golf.

“When we are away from the course, we want to get away from the course and relax and recharge,” Higgs said.

Higgs won the Korn Ferry Tour’s Price Cutter Charity Championship last month in Springfield, Missouri, and finished fifth in the season standings to qualify for the PGA Tour.

“He’s played great all year long, which is pretty hard to do,” Gellerman said. “I was pretty excited for him when he won a couple of weeks ago in Springfield.”

While Gellerman has wrapped up his spot on the PGA Tour, he hasn’t set any goals for that yet. He’s concentrating on Korn Ferry Tour’s playoffs.

“I am sure when I get a little time, maybe on a flight in a couple of weeks, I will give it some more thought,” he said.

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