Few people appreciate the payoff for painstaking work quite like Mexico native Kristoffer Ventura.
Kristoffer Ventura and his ascent to the PGA TOUR, though, was a long and painful (quite literally) journey.
“It all started with the Korn Ferry Tour Qualifying Tournament in 2018,” Ventura said. “With pre-qualifying, I had three tournaments before Final Stage.”
Then, 10 days before Final Stage, he was awoken in the middle of the night, writhing in pain.
“He called and told me he had a really bad stomach pain,” said his father, Carlos. “I told him he needed to go to the doctor right away. He called me after and told me they needed to operate. He was worried he was going to miss his big chance.”
A week before Final Stage, Kristoffer Ventura had an emergency appendectomy.
By virtue of making it to Final Stage, Ventura was assured Korn Ferry Tour membership—provided he teed it up at Final Stage.
And, he did. Technically, Ventura needed to hit just a single shot in Final Stage to maintain his membership. He could have withdrawn after one swing. Instead, he played all 72 holes and finished two strokes out of last place.
Undeterred by his status, Ventura attempted to gain tournament starts via Monday qualifying. By his best guess, he competed in a dozen Monday qualifiers. He was successful once.
At the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail Championship in Alabama, Ventura posted scores of 74-73 and missed the cut.
“That was the biggest low for me, because of how hard it was to get into the tournament,” Ventura said. “I put too much pressure on myself. I knew I would be back at the Monday qualifiers, which was tough.”
In June, competing on a sponsor invitation at the BMW Charity Pro-Am presented by SYNNEX Corporation, Ventura finished T3. His ascent from the bottom was looking up.
Two starts later, Ventura came from three strokes back in the final round of the Utah Championship presented by Zions Bank to close with a 65 and force a sudden death playoff with Joshua Creel at 15-under 270. On the third extra hole, his par was good for the win. Three starts later, Ventura claimed his second Korn Ferry Tour title at the Pinnacle Bank Championship.
“It all happened for me when I stopped thinking about results,” he said. “I decided that when it happens, it happens. I focused only on what I could control. I told everyone around me that if I just keep giving it 100 percent, I’ll be happy no matter the outcome.”
This article first appeared in the PGA TOUR December 2019-May 2020 issue, which can be read here.