If you have lost track of Trent Phillips and what is going on in his career, you have got some catching up to do.
Phillips finished his junior career as the most honored junior, perhaps in the history of the game in South Carolina.
He went on to become an All-American at Georgia and began his professional career last spring.
Now for the the latest and the best news.
After the first round of the Korn-Ferry final Qualifying School in Savannah, Phillips opened play with a 4-under par 67 and was tied for 11th with about half the field in.
Phillips earned a trip to the Korn-Ferry Tour Final Stage Qualifying tournament when he finished fourth at the Second Stage Korn-Ferry Tour Qualifying held at the Robert Trent Jones Trail Highlands/Marshwood courses in Dothan, Alabama.
Phillips shot rounds of 68, 66, and 67 to be tied for the lead going into the final round.
“I had been playing good golf and I went out there with the expectation that I was one of the best players there and I played great golf,” said Phillips.
He was in a position to win the Qualifying tournament, but two bad holes in his final round made him change his thinking from winning to making sure he advanced.
The two bad holes didn’t take Phillips out of contention to win the qualifying tournament, but it caused him to make a “business” decision, one that was different from decisions he would make as an amateur.
“This was different from a regular tournament. In a regular tournament if you don’t do well there is another one. In this one, if you don’t do well there isn’t another tournament to play,” he said.
Phillips got back on track with a birdie and an eagle, but decided it wasn’t the time to try to be a hero.
There wasn’t much breathing room between the top of the leader board and the last player to make the cut to advance to the Final Stage.
“There was a little pressure and I was not going to play myself out of advancing. I finished with 10 straight pars,” he said.
Phillips finished in fourth place at 13-under par, two shots out of first, but comfortably advancing to the final stage.
“I’ve got a Korn-Ferry Tour membership, but you want to get full status so you can play all year,” he said.
The way the Final Stage works is the medalist is exempt for the full season.
Players who finish 2 through 10 are guaranteed 12 events for the season.11 through 40 get into the first eight events of the new season.
Phillips played in one Korn-Ferry Tour event after he finished school.
He qualified for the Rex Hospital Classic, but missed the cut.
Then for reasons that still have never been fully understood, he did not receive an exemption to play in his hometown BMW tournament.
Phillips finished the year on the PGA Tour University ranking outside the automatic qualifiers for Korn-Ferry guaranteed starts, but at number 7 in the ranking,
Phillips would have been a popular choice to be added to the field, but not including the Georgia All-American from Inman just adds to the list of missed opportunities the BMW tournament has had to include deserving local players in the field.
Without Korn-Ferry status, Phillips played last summer on PGA Tour Canada.
In eight events Phillips had 5 top 5 finishes. He led several of the tournaments and posted some great scores.
At the CRMC Championship, he made 7-straight birdies for a 28 on the nine and a 61 for the round.In the season-ending Fortinet Cup Championship, he was under the weather when he traveled to Kitchener, Ontario for the tournament.
He shot his way into the lead, but his condition didn’t improve and he fought through his illness to a fifth-place finish.
The season-long points race ended with Phillips ranked 13th and looking forward to playing closer to home this year.
“Canada was all right, but I would rather not go back, The accommodations were not great, the travel was difficult and there wasn’t much money to play for, but it was golf and I gained experience,” he said.
In between trips from his home to events in Canada, Phillips got to play at St. Andrews in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on the DP Tour.
St. Andrews can be a challenge any day, but when you tee it up at the “Old Course” and the weather is awful the course can be almost unplayable.
“I had a good first day and shot a 69, but the second day the wind was 30 miles an hour and it was cold. I hit driver and four iron on a par-4 and was still short,” he recalled.
Phillips shot a 79 in that round and missed the cut after shooting a 72 in the third round.
“It was miserable. On some holes, it was impossible to take the club back. The next time I go there it will be to play in the British Open,” he said.
Phillips also got an invitation to play in the PGA Tour’s season-ending Wyndham Championship in Greensboro.
It was his first PGA Tour event. He shot rounds of 72 and 70 but missed the cut.
While his finish on the PGA Tour University ranking wasn’t good enough to get an exemption into the BMW, skipping the First Stage of Q-School was one of the benefits.
Like every Tour quality professional, Phillips is keeping an eye on the situation caused by the start-up of the LIV Tour.
It isn’t something he is spending much time considering now, but he isn’t against playing 54-hole tournaments in shorts for a lot of money.
“I know some of the guys on the LIV Tour. I think it is something to consider, and everybody should. Being closed-minded to it isn’t very smart,” he said.
But for now, his focus is on the opportunity to improve his Korn-Ferry Tour status in Savannah.
“I’m playing good golf and I’m not changing anything. I’m just going to play golf and breathe and get the best status I can for next year,” concluded Phillips.
More Palmetto State Golfers at the Korn-Ferry Qualifier
Phillips is not the only Palmetto State golfer trying to secure a full time spot on the Korn-Ferry Tour in Savannah.
Former Clemson golfer Jacob Bridgeman, also from Inman, earned the opportunity to play on the Korn-Ferry Tour as the second ranked golfer on the PGA Tour University listing.
Instead of going through First and Second Stage qualifying he was exempt into the finals this week.
Bridgeman shot an even par round to open the 72 hole event.
Former Gamecock golfer Scott Stevens, who had a very successful season on PGA Tour Canada, also was even after the first round.
Also in the field, trying to improve their Korn-Ferry Tour status for next season.
Auburn grad Trace Crowe from Easley, former Clemson Tiger San Saunders, Withrop grad Taylor Dickson and former Heritage champion Wesley Bryan