Just over a month ago, Justin Lauer had an emotional mess.
He fought hard on his last attempt to qualify for the FedExCup Playoffs, but suddenly found himself fighting back tears, his three-throw bogey on the final hole of the PGA Tour regular season finale in Greensboro, North Carolina, leaving his 127th in points, two points shy of a ticket. Postseason.
Most important, of course, was that Lower’s final status cost him his full Tour membership, relegating the 33-year-old rookie to conditional status for the following season.
“It’s absolutely disgusting,” said Lore while answering questions inside the flash area at Sedgefield Country Club.
Soon he’ll be on a flight to Boise, Idaho, for the opening of the Korn Ferry Tour Finals—or so he thought.
Lorre was among a handful of players who gained a new life after a few weeks. On September 2, after Cameron Smith and five other defectors from the LIV Golf team hit their first shots in the Saudi-backed league outside Boston – and activated their tour suspension – Lower and five others were notified that they had collided inside the summit. 125 FedExCup points and then earned full exempt status for another season.
“I am so grateful to be here and so grateful to be in the position that I am,” Laure said earlier this week at Fortinet, the 2022-23 Tour Championship. “Obviously with Windham and everything, it honestly sucked, like I said, but it turned out better.”
He wasted no time in taking advantage of his second chance.
Lower, who started his career with a 9-under 63 on Thursday, will sleep on a 54-hole lead on Saturday night after his third 69th turn at Silverado Resort in Napa, California, where he slays the defense. Champion Max Homma and Danny Willett, another of these six players to hold their cards after the last ban on the LIV.
It’s the first time Lower has entered a Sunday Tour with the lead.
In fact, his best finish after three rounds before this week was the T-6 in the Bermuda Championships.
“I’m sure I’ll be nervous for sure, but just part of it,” Laure said Saturday upon completion. “I mean, that’s why we play…playing on the PGA Tour with a chance to win, it’s cool.”
Especially for Lower, which is unlike any other way to get to this point.
15 years old, Laure I was subjected to an unimaginable tragedy. His father, Tim, and 10-year-old brother Chris were killed in a car accident in which Tim fell asleep while driving while drunk and speeding.
Lore went on to play college golf at Malone University, a private Christian school in Canton, Ohio, and won the NAIA National Championship.
He turned professional in 2011 and three years later made his way onto the Korn Ferry Tour, spending six of the next seven years. He nearly graduated on the PGA Tour in 2018, but similar to this year’s Wyndham, he missed the last hole of the Web.com Tour Championship and stayed in place for two more seasons.
After collecting his first Tour Card of the KFT Super Season in 2020-21, Laure only managed a pair of Top 10 cards in 24 starts.
The next chapter will be finished writing on Sunday.
Lower is set to blast off in the final trio on Sunday along with Homa and Willett at 10:12 a.m. local time (1:12 p.m. ET), a bad weather forecast that pushes tee times several hours. When asked what he’ll be doing until then, Lower said he plans to have some dinner (he was starving!), and maybe attend a OneRepublic party later. But with the early start, he would also call it an early night.
“I go right away, I think,” said Laure. “I mean, honestly I’d love it the traditional way, just duets and late and everything, but whatever.
“At least not 54 holes.”
If so, Lower would indeed be a first-time tour winner. But it isn’t, and that’s okay.
He had been preparing for this moment all his life.
Through tragedy, close pleas, tears, and unprecedented eligibility decisions.
And should this emotional journey continue on Sunday with this first title? Well, it won’t suck.