Wichita golfer surges into lead with one round left at AdventHealth Championship in KC

·6 min read
File photo/PGA Tour

A golfer from Wichita roared from four back on Saturday to overtake the lead in the $750,000 AdventHealth Championship at Blue Hills Country Club.

With a scorching third-round score of 7-under 65, Sam Stevens holds the 54-hole lead into Sunday’s final round of the annual Korn Ferry Tour event on the par-72 track in Kansas City.

A 25-year-old graduate of Kapaun Mt. Carmel High School and Oklahoma State, Stevens sits 15-under for the tournament. The leader after two rounds, Trevor Cone, shot a 70 on Saturday and is tied with South African MJ Daffue at 14-under. Daffue fired a third-round 67.

Taylor Montgomery and Michael Feagles were tied for fourth at 13-under after shooting a 67 and 69, respectively, followed by Kevin Roy at 12-under.

Former KU golfer Andy Spencer was at 1-under after carding a 71 on Saturday.

Rain that cloaked the KC metro into Saturday morning delayed the start of the third round, but the golfers later played under pleasant skies and cool temperatures.

As for the Wichita native Stevens, he holds his first lead of any kind on the Korn Ferry Tour. He had seven birdies and no bogeys on Saturday.

“Obviously I haven’t been leading or haven’t been in this position yet this year, but I’m excited for tomorrow,” said Stevens, who is playing his first season on the PGA feeder tour. “I was pleased with the way I played. I was a little loose on maybe the last four, five holes, but that’s all right, you’re allowed to hit a bad shot from time to time.”

Before arriving at the Korn Ferry Tour, Stevens played on the All Pro Tour, winning six events and earning $203,692 in 26 starts since 2019. He’s a third-generation pro golfer — dad Charlie played at Oklahoma and TCU, while granddad Johnny played in 30 PGA events, mostly in 1968-69.

Now, the current pro golfer in the Stevens clan — the one leading the AdventHealth Championship this weekend — is finding his own way in the profession. He even made the cut as a qualifier at a PGA event in February, finishing 56th in the Honda Classic at Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.

“I’ve been playing well all year — just maybe haven’t been putting as well as I’d like to,” Stevens said. “I’ve been putting better the last two or three weeks, so I think that’s definitely helped me kind of have a little bit more consistent game.”

Stevens definitely has ample experience playing in high-leverage situations like the one he will face on Sunday. He won three straight Kansas Class 5A titles in high school at Kapaun Mt. Carmel and helped OU win an NCAA championship during his time with the Sooners.

Playing so close to home, he even has his own rooting section in the gallery at Blue Hills.

“My wife came up this week and our two boys came up earlier today,” Stevens said, “so it’s been great to get to see family, especially when you’re out of town for as long as some of the stretches we’re on. That’s been good, and it feels good to have people out there cheering you on.”

The AdventHealth Championship, formerly known as the Midwest Classic and KC Golf Classic, opened with a field of 156 hopefuls vying for a total prize pool of $750,000. The field was cut by half after Friday’s round.

The tournament typically takes place at either Blue Hills or the Nicklaus Golf Club at LionsGate in Overland Park, and it’s now been held at Blue Hills three years in a row.

Top performers on the Korn Ferry Tour — such as last year’s winner, Cameron Young — earn promotion to the PGA Tour. Young is now playing on the PGA Tour after earning his tour card with a strong performance on the Korn Ferry Tour last season. He’s currently ranked No. 38 in the Official World Golf Ranking and No. 14 in the FedExCup Standings.

With another $750,000 up for grabs next month, the Korn Ferry Tour makes its other annual visit to the region for the Wichita Open Benefiting KU Wichita Pediatrics in mid-June at Crestview Country Club in Stevens’ hometown.

Saturday’s third-round scores

Sam Stevens 69-67-65—201

MJ Daffue 65-71-66—202

Trevor Cone 65-67-70—202

Taylor Montgomery 66-70-67—203

Michael Feagles 65-69-69—203

Kevin Roy 68-67-69—204

Kyle Westmoreland 68-67-70—205

Tain Lee 68-71-67—206

Grayson Murray 70-67-70—207

Brandon Crick 69-68-70—207

Akshay Bhatia 71-67-70—208

Alvaro Ortiz 71-67-70—208

Austin Eckroat 69-73-67—209

Augusto Nunez 70-68-71—209

Seonghyeon Kim 69-68-72—209

Alexandre Rocha 67-70-72—209

Jose de Jesus Rodriguez 71-69-70—210

Chandler Blanchet 70-70-70—210

Jeremy Paul 71-69-70—210

Josh Teater 68-70-72—210

Erik Barnes 69-72-70—211

David Kocher 68-71-72—211

Brent Grant 69-74-68—211

Philip Knowles 74-69-68—211

Scott Gutschewski 69-69-73—211

Harry Hall 71-71-70—212

Garett Reband 73-69-70—212

David Lingmerth 71-70-71—212

Quade Cummins 68-75-69—212

Michael Kim 68-70-74—212

Marcelo Rozo 70-67-75—212

Luis Gagne 71-71-71—213

Chase Parker 71-71-71—213

Will Gordon 75-67-71—213

Tanner Gore 71-70-72—213

Matt McCarty 69-74-70—213

Christopher Petefish 70-70-73—213

Paul Haley II 72-71-70—213

John Chin 72-72-69—213

John Augenstein 68-74-72—214

A.J. Crouch 69-73-72—214

Peter Kuest 72-70-72—214

Thomas Walsh 71-70-73—214

Nick Voke 70-71-73—214

George Cunningham 73-71-70—214

Tag Ridings 75-69-70—214

Jake Staiano 72-72-70—214

Tee-K Kelly 73-71-70—214

Luke Guthrie 71-71-73—215

Martin Flores 73-70-72—215

Ryan McCormick 73-66-76—215

Andrew Yun 72-71-72—215

T.J. Vogel 71-73-71—215

Andy Spencer 77-67-71—215

Nicolas Echavarria 68-74-74—216

Brandon Harkins 71-71-74—216

Zecheng Dou 70-73-73—216

Daniel Chopra 71-72-73—216

Michael Visacki 72-70-75—217

Nelson Ledesma 74-69-74—217

Cody Gribble 73-70-74—217

Xinjun Zhang 72-71-74—217

Spencer Ralston 71-73-73—217

Mark Anguiano 71-73-73—217

Blake Dyer 74-70-73—217

John VanDerLaan 71-71-76—218

Tom Whitney 70-72-76—218

KK Limbhasut 73-70-75—218

Jonathan Brightwell 70-73-75—218

Martin Contini 70-73-75—218

Rafael Campos 73-71-74—218

Steven Fisk 73-71-74—218

Sean O’Hair 73-71-75—219

Albin Choi 71-72-77—220

Alex Chiarella 72-68-80—220

Ted Potter, Jr. 73-70-77—220

Conner Godsey 71-73-77—221

Zack Sucher 72-72-79—223