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Lakewood Ranch professional golfer takes winding road to success

Kevin Roy almost gave up golf but now is fighting to get back to the PGA Tour.

Lakewood Ranch's Kevin Roy is 13th on the Korn Ferry Tour points list as of March 29.
Lakewood Ranch's Kevin Roy is 13th on the Korn Ferry Tour points list as of March 29.
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In 2017, Lakewood Ranch's Kevin Roy thought he was done with professional golf. 

Roy, a native of Syracuse, New York, had spent the previous five years trying to make it his living after graduating from Long Beach State University in 2012. It had been a slog. Roy said he won one of the first events he played on the West Florida Golf Tour, collecting $10,000 in the process, but soon found it a struggle to stay afloat. 

He came close to a breakthrough in 2015 when he obtained a card for the PGA Tour Latinoamérica, but went on to play "absolutely horrible," he said, making the cut in just one of 10 events and losing nearly all of the money he had raised or earned. 

"It's a crazy ride," Roy said. "A lot of golf fans don't realize the credit card debts you get. You're sleeping in a Red Roof Inn, or even your car in the parking lot sometimes. It can take a toll on you mentally and physically." 

After five years, Roy had enough of it. He did not play a single professional event in 2017, instead working in the medical sales business to get a consistent income. Having money was a nice change of pace, he said, but over the course of the year, he realized medical sales was not how he wanted to spend his life. He saved all the money he could, and in 2018 rededicated himself to professional golf. He said he knows he has the talent to make it, but that it is a matter of being more confident.

Back on the Korn Ferry Tour for 2024, Kevin Roy finished second (16 under par) at The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay in January.
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Roy's decision appears to be the right one, even thought it has been a long road. In 2020, he played his first full season on the Korn Ferry Tour, and in 2022, Roy finished 21st on the Korn Ferry Tour points list, earning his first PGA Tour card in the process. 

"There were times when I never thought it would happen," Roy said. "To have a childhood dream come true at 32 years old was emotional." 

Now 34, he wants to prove he belongs on the PGA Tour. He played 31 events during the 2022-2023 PGA Tour season, making nine cuts and finishing in the top-25 of a tournament three times. He made $478,760, but finished 174th in the FedEx Cup standings, meaning he lost his tour status for the 2023-2024 season. 

Roy said the overall talent level wasn't that much different on the PGA Tour as compared to the Korn Ferry Tour. Players on the Korn Ferry Tour are good, he said, but the biggest difference was just finding a comfort level. At one of his first events, he said, he had a locker two down from world No. 1 Scottie Scheffler. He knows he needs to adjust to that kind of pressure. He doesn't want to be happy just to be there.

Kevin Roy received his PGA Tour card for the 2022-2023 season and played in 31 events, making nine cuts.
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He focus now is playing well enough on the Korn Ferry Tour to get back to the PGA Tour. To that end, his early-season results have him in a good position. He has made the cut in all four KFT events he has played and finished second (16 under par) at The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay in January. As of March 29, Roy is 13th on the KFT points list as the top 30 at the end of the season will receive PGA Tour cards. Now that he is a Lakewood Ranch resident, he will give local golf fans a rooting interest in the LECOM Suncoast Classic, which will be played April 18-21 at Lakewood National Golf Club. 

To prepare for this season, Roy said he has been working with a mental performance coach, Brian Cain, to have more self-awareness on the golf course. Roy said he only wants to think about the next shot, not any past shots or two shots ahead. To do that, Cain's advice says athletes should monitor their body language, focus and self-talk. If an athlete is in control of all three areas, they are more likely to do what they need to do. 

Roy said the advice has been game-changing for him. He's now able to quickly get over a bad shot or a bad round, he said — a crucial skill in what can be a fickle game. Roy put those skills to work when he secured a sponsor's exemption spot in the PGA Tour's 2024 Valspar Championship, held March 17-23 at Innisbrook Golf and Spa Resort in Palm Harbor. Roy finished tied for 12th at five under par, earning $166,740. 

Roy said he's looking forward to competing at the Suncoast Classic in front of family and friends, though he hopes it will be the final time he plays in it. 

"I would not change (the journey) for the world," Roy said. "The game has been good to me. I'm eager to get back out there because I know I can compete, and I'm more motivated than ever." 



Ryan Kohn

Ryan Kohn is the sports editor for Sarasota and East County and a Missouri School of Journalism graduate. He was born and raised in Olney, Maryland. His biggest inspirations are Wright Thompson and Alex Ovechkin. His strongest belief is that mint chip ice cream is unbeatable.

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