Wil Gibson and Luke Long each moved onto the second stage in pursuit of a Korn Ferry Tour Card.
By Chris Werner
USGA P.J. Boatwright Jr. Intern
November 13, 2023
Luke Long and Wil Gibson, each decorated former ASGA players and former Arkansas Razorbacks, recently advanced to the second stage of Korn Ferry Tour Qualifying School.
Long, the current money leader on the All Pro Tour this season, did so at the Texas 1 site, stringing together rounds of 69, 69, 66, and 63 from Oct. 17-20 at the Rockwall Golf and Athletic Club in Rockwall, Texas, to finish with a winning score of 21-under-par.
Gibson first advanced through a prequalifier, finishing second at Sand Creek Station Golf Club in Newton, Kansas, from Sept. 13-15, firing a 13-under-par 203 over three rounds.
Then he came in second again at the Stage 1 qualifier at Muskogee Golf Club in Muskogee, Oklahoma, from Oct. 10-13 with a four-round total of 9-under-par.
Long, a Fayetteville native, graduated from the University of Houston in 2021 before playing for the Razorbacks in 2021-22.
He has since grinded on the All Pro Tour for the past two seasons. He finished 2022 outside the top 100 on the money list and failed to advance past Stage 1 of Korn Ferry Q-School last season, but then he started working with a new coach.
Long and Ryan Rody began working together in November of 2022, and since then, Long’s results have improved drastically.
After failing to finish inside the top 20 at any events last season — making just two of five cuts during the regular season on the APT — long vaulted to the top of the 2023 money list, earning nearly $45,000.
In his 10 events this season, Long has made nine cuts, finished in the top 25 eight times, the top 10 three times, and collected his first APT win at the United Way Classic at Hardscrabble Country Club from June 7-10.
Long attributes a share of that success to his new coach.
“I've always been a very adequate ball striker,” Long said. “Since I've worked with the new coach, we've cleaned a few things up and kind of, you know, started from the ground up, where I could fix something on the road by myself not always have to go back to him. So that's what's been real consistent with me has been really nice ball striking, as well as being a good driver of the golf ball.
“I couldn't tell you how many greens I hit in first stage but it was definitely somewhere in the 80-ish maybe pushing 90 percent. You're not having a ton of stress there. Just continue to give yourself good looks and capitalize on those looks. Even if you hit a bad one, you can always lag it up there, tap in for pars.”
Long said his mentality for last year’s Korn Ferry Tour Q School was one of playing not to lose, and this year he’s changing his mental approach.
“The mindset I went in last year with Q-School was more along the lines of, ‘I just want to make it through,’ which probably wasn't the best mindset to have," he said. "Any time you're just like, ‘I just want to do something,’ you're gonna find yourself kind of hovering. It's gonna go one of two ways, you know, either really good or really, really not so good, you're gonna let yourself down a little bit. So this year, my mentality, going into Q-School, trying to keep the same mentality that I did with each tournament this year. I wanted to be competitive. I wanted to be at the top, trying to win the event.”
Gibson, from Jonesboro, graduated from Arkansas last May, so this summer and fall have been his first in professional golf.
He too has played this season on the APT. In five events, he has three top-10s, highlighted by a tie for third at the Real Okie Championship at the same Muskogeee Golf Club where he played his Stage 1 qualifier.
Gibson said he’s approaching second stage with a similar mental gameplan as Long. He said he’ll lean on his experiences playing in both Korn Ferry and PGA Tour qualifiers during his time as a Razorback.
“I played in a lot of qualifiers like you do that in college or qualifiers for tournaments in the summer, and I always had a good mentality going into qualifiers," Gibson said. "So trying to keep the same mentality of playing steady golf, and not getting too ahead of myself.
"But the experience has been a little different," Gibson continued. "[There's] not too much talking going on during rounds. A lot of people are focused on trying to get the job done. But I mean, the last few times since there's a bonus to win, to earn status on a tour, that's kind of raised both of our goals. So I think that's been our number one goal going into each stage.”
Long will play his Second Stage qualifier in Savanah, Georgia, at the Landings Golf and Athletic Club and Gibson will tee it up in Dothan, Alabama, at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail at Highland Oaks. Both events will take place Nov. 14-17.
There are approximately 15 spots available at each of the five Stage 2 locartions.
Final Korn Ferry Tour qualifying will take place at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, from Dec. 14-17.