Golf

Folsom’s Lucas rolling with the ups and downs of pro golf

Folsom’s Kevin Lucas won the Nevada Open last week in Mesquite. With a 19-under par (and four birdies and an eagle in the final round), he bested a field of 216 players to earn the biggest paycheck of his life.
Folsom’s Kevin Lucas won the Nevada Open last week in Mesquite. With a 19-under par (and four birdies and an eagle in the final round), he bested a field of 216 players to earn the biggest paycheck of his life. Mesquite Gaming

Kevin Lucas accentuates the positive and focuses on the future.

That works well in most walks of life. In pro golf, it’s imperative for sanity and success.

Lucas won the Nevada Open on Thursday in Mesquite, topping a salty field of 216 players to earn the biggest paycheck of his life.

That the triumph came one week after one of his most gut-wrenching setbacks is a testament to his outlook and resolve.

“I proved I’m doing exactly what I need to be doing in life,” he said.

Lucas, a 28-year-old Folsom resident, earned $28,000 in Nevada. His 19-under-par total was the best of his five-year pro career.

A week earlier in Southern California, a spot on the 2017 Web.com Tour slipped from his grasp late in the 72-hole second stage of the annual qualifying grind.

“One of the biggest letdowns I’ve ever had,” he said.

Lucas chipped in for a birdie on No. 16 in the final round at Oak Valley Golf Club in Beaumont. At that point, he was 2 under for the day and 8 under for the tournament. He didn’t know for sure, but he assumed two finishing pars would put him in the top 19 that would advance to next month’s final stage.

He was correct.

I proved I’m doing exactly what I need to be doing in life.

Kevin Lucas, on his victory in the Nevada Open

On No. 17, his approach shot one-hopped into a back bunker and into a fried egg lie that resulted in a bogey. From the right rough on No. 18, he airmailed the green with his approach shot. Sensing correctly that he needed to make a birdie and facing a near-impossible shot, he took a risk, didn’t pull it off and ended with a triple bogey. He finished with a 2-over 74 and tied for 28th.

For someone who says his ultimate goal is not just to make the PGA Tour but to win there, nothing could have dulled the pain in the immediate aftermath. Lucas said he was grateful to have the company of Jeff Hoffman, one of the Sacramento area’s most accomplished amateur players, and his wife, Michelle, who spent the week with Lucas helping make him comfortable.

“Him being there to talk to was the best thing that could have happened,” Lucas said. “It was just his belief in me. That this won’t define me or my destiny in this game. That I was going to learn from it and come back stronger.”

A proven winner on the minitour circuit and fully recovered from wrist surgery that sidelined him for almost a year after he qualified for the 2015 U.S. Open, Lucas now is going to focus on Monday qualifying for Web.com and PGA Tour events.

“I need to get out there and play with the big boys,” he said. “I need to get into a tournament and win it. Once I do that, I change my fate.

“You have to give yourself as many chances as you can. I can’t just bank on playing well for two weeks at the end of the year.”

Davis’ Tyler Raber, 26, who played alongside Lucas in the final round, closed with a 67 to finish 10th. He is guaranteed Web.com status next season, the extent to be determined next month in Florida.

Loomis’ Austin Smotherman, 22, in his first qualifying foray, missed reaching the final stage by one stroke in McKinney, Texas.

Pomeroy leaving

Nate Pomeroy, who spent the bulk of his 30 years as a PGA member in Sacramento, is leaving the golf business to open a Dickey’s Barbecue Pit a mile from TPC Scottsdale in Arizona.

Pomeroy, 59, has been the general manager at Peach Tree in Marysville for 12 years. He’s been an assistant pro at Valley Hi, the head pro at North Ridge and Lake Wildwood and the GM at Teal Bend.

I need to get out there and play with the big boys. I need to get into a tournament and win it. Once I do that, I change my fate.

Kevin Lucas

He said he was contemplating a move toward retirement for a few years, and the Dickey’s epiphany came to him during a visit to a Rocklin location six months ago.

“I thought, ‘Gosh, how remarkably simple is this model.’ 

The move from private-club GM to fast-food franchisee isn’t as incongruous as it seems, he said.

“Everything about it I do on a daily basis – except make BBQ. I run a small business and I know the challenges.

“It’s exciting and it’s scary, but I’ve done my homework. At 59, you don’t get any mulligans.”

Steve Pajak: 916-326-5526, @Steve_Pajak

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