August 19, 2022

Springswines

The Tour And Travel Enthusiasts

This pro’s win raised eyebrows. But few knew the whole story

4 min read
This pro’s win raised eyebrows. But few knew the whole story

Patrick Newcomb’s win at the Farmers Insurance Invitational drew questions on social media.

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When Tim O’Neal’s birdie putt spun out of the hole on Torrey Pines’ 18th green Sunday evening, Patrick Newcomb could only muster one word.

“Wow.”

O’Neal’s inopportune miss meant that Newcomb — who had holed a birdie putt of his own just moments earlier — had won the Farmers Insurance Invitational, his first victory on the Advocates Pro Golf Association Tour.

The nationally televised win came with a $30,000 paycheck and an exemption into a Korn Ferry Tour event this spring. It’s the kind of opportunity that keeps careers alive for journeymen, and which can be used as a springboard as they work to graduate to the next level.

But for Newcomb, the good vibes didn’t last long. Once video clips of his win hit social media, the narrative around his feel-good victory quickly shifted.

“Are some people confused about this for the same reason I am?” one commenter asked.

“This don’t [sic] add up at all,” said another.

“This absolutely makes no sense at all to anyone watching,” added a third.

Why the perplexity? Newcomb is white, and the APGA Tour, which was established in 2010, has a stated mission of “preparing African Americans and other minority golfers to compete and win at the highest level of professional golf.” The tour welcomes all ethnicities — about 15 percent of its members are white — but still, the optics of a white player winning the APGA’s flagship event surprised some.

As a snippet of Newcomb’s winning moment began making the rounds on the social media, opinions started flying. But, of course, a 40-second clip had no chance of telling the entire story.

Kamaiu Johnson hits his tee shot on the fifth hole during the second round of The Farmers Insurance Open on the South Course at Torrey Pines Golf Course on January 27, 2022 in La Jolla, California.

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Newcomb, 31, a former golfer at Murray State, has bounced around various development tours through his professional career, including abroad. But with border restrictions in place during the pandemic, chasing opportunities outside the U.S. became untenable. Newcomb also was without Korn Ferry status in 2021 (he has since regained that status), so some of his fellow professionals, like Willie Mack III and O’Neal, suggested he check out the APGA Tour.

“I’m good buddies with all those guys,” Newcomb told GOLF.com. “They’ve been playing [on the APGA Tour] for years; they told me about it and said I should come play.”

A successful season followed, and by year’s end, he’d accumulated enough points to play in the Farmers Insurance Invitational. The event is always circled on the APGA Tour calendar because of the venue and the stakes, but this year it had even more fanfare as Golf Channel broadcasted the final round from Torrey Pines.

After a tight leaderboard on Day 1, the final round turned into a two-man race as Newcomb and O’Neal dueled on the back nine. The pair came to the 18th hole tied, but when Newcomb got up-and-down from the sand for birdie and O’Neal failed to convert a birdie try of his own, Newcomb prevailed by a shot.

Patrick Newcomb’s win at Torrey Pines was his first on the APGA Tour.

@PGATour

“I was just trying to go play a tournament that I was excited to play, with a great field, and a great venue, that I qualified for as a member of the APGA,” Newcomb said. “And any time you tee it up in a golf tournament, you’re trying to win. That’s all I was trying to do.”

But even as the social media storm took over the narrative about the win, those in the eye of it didn’t feel the effects. Newcomb said his fellow tour mates and others involved with the tour were thrilled to see a friend win on such a grand stage.

“I can’t control people on social media,” Newcomb said. “I’m a proud member of the APGA. Everyone associated with the tour works hard in providing the opportunities for all of us within the APGA to play great organized events. I have nothing but respect and appreciation for the opportunities they gave me and the other guys on that tour to grow and improve.”

After Newcomb sealed his win on the 18th green, he walked to the scoring tent to add up his card. The win was verified, and he was ushered away for the trophy ceremony. That’s when an idea popped into his head.

“My first thought was, ‘I’m already going to be in that event anyways off my Korn Ferry status, can I give [the exemption] to Tim [O’Neal]?’” Newcomb said. “We got together with the Korn Ferry Tour and the APGA and everybody was happy and excited about it, and so was I.”

The transfer of the exemption was announced Wednesday afternoon; in a few months, the two APGA standouts will tee it up on the Korn Ferry Tour. For both men, the start will serve as another chance to chase the ultimate dream.

“It could’ve gone the other way,” Newcomb said. “I could’ve missed my putt and he could’ve made his and he’d be in anyways. Golf just happens that way sometimes. It just happened to go my way, but he played great golf all day. He’s very deserving of the spot.”

Golf.com Editor

Zephyr Melton is an assistant editor for GOLF.com where he spends his days blogging, producing and editing. Prior to joining the team at GOLF.com, he attended the University of Texas followed by stops with Team USA, the Green Bay Packers and the PGA Tour. He assists on all things instruction and covers amateur and women’s golf.