They were handing out PGA Tour cards behind the 18th green at Victoria National on Sunday, the final round of the Korn Ferry Tour Championship determining which 30 players would earn a promotion for 2024. And Shad Tuten looked like he was going to get the last one. Despite a bogey on the final hole, the 31-year-old from Augusta, Ga., who had never played in a PGA Tour event, was projected to hold on to the final spot on the season-ending points list, a birdie on the par-5 15th good enough to sneak him inside that bubble.
Yet before signing his scorecard, the tour pro in his third season on the Korn Ferry Tour was informed that the something was amiss with that birdie on the 15th. After Tuten’s drive found thick rough left, he hacked out his second shot back into the fairway. Standing inside 120 yards with his third shot, Tuten picked up his ball, which wasn’t the issue given that the final round in Newburgh, Ind., was being played under the lift, clean and place local rule because of wet conditions that lingered from earlier in the week.
Tuten proceeded to place his ball back in the fairway, only for it move ever so slightly forward. He then picked the ball back up and placed it again, only this time a few inches to the right.
And that would cost him his PGA Tour card.
According to Jim Duncan, the Korn Ferry Tour VP of rules, competitions and administration and the chief referee of the tournament, the local rule required that a player whose ball moves after being placed replace the ball on the same spot. “Then if it won’t stay at rest, that’s when you find the nearest place that you do, just like any other rule that requires placing,” Duncan said. “When he did not try to place that ball right back on the same spot [Rule 14.2e], that’s when he was under penalty, two shots for playing from the wrong place.”
So Tuten’s birdie—he just missed the green with his approach but rolled in a 14-footer—became a bogey, his two-over 74 became a 76 and instead of being in 30th place on the points list, he fell two spots to 32nd. (He started the week 29th in points.) The penalty allowed Rafael Campos to slide up from 31st to 30th and claim the final spot.
Tuten had played in 23 KFT events in 2023 prior to the Tour Championship. Despite missing nine cuts, and with one withdrawal, he had five top-10 finishes on the season, including a T-2 finish at the Club Car Championship in March. Tuten came into the week 29th on the points list, knowing a card was on the line.
“If you told me I was 29th coming in here, I would tell you I’m very happy,” Tuten said earlier in the week. “I’ve played the best golf I have my entire career, without winning, which, you know, obviously is what we work for. But you know I’ve played really, really, really good golf for an extended period of time.”