After earning his first victory on the Korn Ferry Tour March 1, University of Maryland graduate David Kocher has his eyes set on the PGA Tour.
Kocher, 23, finished 12-under at the El Bosque Mexico Championship and edged out Paul Barjon and Chad Ramey in a playoff for the title. Kocher, who has competed in six Korn Ferry events, also finished fourth at the LECOM Suncoast Classic in February. With a chance to make the PGA tour, Kocher has no doubts he can get there soon.
“It’s pretty cool having these two weeks off and be able to realize what I just did,” Kocher said on Glenn Clark Radio March 6. “Realizing that a lifelong dream could potentially happen this fall, I just need to play well the rest of the year and make sure I keep doing the same thing … making cuts [and] hit the ball great.”
Every year, 50 Korn Ferry golfers are awarded PGA Tour cards for the following season — the top 25 players from the Korn Ferry Tour regular season and another 25 players based on the results of the Korn Ferry Tour Finals (three events). Golfers who win three Korn Ferry events in one year are immediately promoted to the PGA Tour.
Kocher is currently third in the regular-season standings. (All Korn Ferry Tour events have been canceled through April 5 due to COVID-19.)
“I’ve been thinking in my head the whole time that I could be on the PGA Tour in the fall,” Kocher said. “I’ve been talking to all the guys I live with and my family and we’re trying to figure out how many points I need the rest of the year.”
Kocher was born in Morristown, N.J., but resides in Charlotte, N.C. Kocher has family in Pennsylvania and wanted to attend Penn State, but he wasn’t recruited by the Nittany Lions and turned to Maryland.
“I originally wanted to go to Penn State. Both my parents and my brother, sister, my whole family is from Pennsylvania,” Kocher said. “I ended up not getting recruited by them and decided I really wanted to go to a Big Ten school anyway. When I found out Maryland was going to the Big Ten, I realized when I [visited] I love the school, the campus [and] my two coaches, Jason Rodenhaver and Steve Delmar. It was a perfect fit. I loved it there. I loved my teammates.”
During his four years at Maryland, he competed in every event and became the first Terp to earn four straight individual NCAA bids (2015-2018). Kocher won his first tournament in 2015, winning the Firestone Invitational individual title, and his second in 2018, capturing the Tiger Invitational individual title.
Kocher says Rodenhaver, his former golf coach at Maryland, played a big role in his development.
“Coach played a huge role in my development from junior golfer to college golfer to the pros,” Kocher said. “He helped me kind of realize that my game is good enough to play out here. And he let me do my own thing. He does a great job at that he kind of transformed my game.”
While at Maryland, Kocher started to believe college golf was too easy, as he kept placing high in tournaments. That’s when he realized golf was what he wanted to do for his life. He turned pro in 2018 after graduating.
“I kept finishing top 15 every tournament and I was like, ‘College golf should not be this easy,'” Kocher said. “I kept shooting under par, under par, under par, and I realized that as college kept going on, golf is really not that hard if you keep it in the fairway and put it on the green to putt.”
After college, Kocher took his place in the PGA developmental circuit in China where he finished in the top 10 five times and top 25 eight times. He also had four top-three finishes, including a win. Kocher says the circuit was helpful.
“The developmental circuits helped me a ton,” Kocher said. “I played mini-tours right after college. … In college, you’re used to shooting even par and then when you get out to mini-tours and these developmental tours, you have to go really, really deep to win these golf tournaments. And I realized that the best players keep rising to the top each and every time.”
“I definitely took a lot of experience last year playing in China and knowing how to win out there and took it to when I played Mexico,” Kocher added. “And the half of the season or the first few events of the season, took a lot of confidence from those China tournaments through the first couple of weeks.”
For more from Kocher, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credits: Eduardo Sanchez/PGA Tour and Courtesy of Maryland Athletics