Birdie bash

Billy Tom Sargent's pro golf dreams took a huge step forward last week.

Scott County's Billy Tom Sargent is a heartbeat away from the PGA Tour.

Sargent made the cut Friday in the second stage of Korn Ferry Tour qualifying school, played at Highlands/Marshwood in Dothan, Alabama.

That ensures Sargent of his 2020 card to participate on the Korn Ferry Tour, which like Triple-A baseball or NBA's G-League is the highest developmental circuit below the elite level.

He now advances to the final stage Dec. 12-15 at Orange County National in Winter Garden, Florida, where each player's performance determines his level of exemption for the first segment of the tour's season.

Sargent sealed the deal with what has become his trademark knack for late rallies. Five birdies in an eight-hole stretch of the back nine gave him a final round of 1-under 71 and a four-day total of 4-under 284.

That put Sargent in a six-way tie for 15th place, just above the final cut line. He needed the magical run after a bogey on the second hole and double-bogey at the sixth put him in danger of missing the cut.

Stephen Franken of Raleigh, North Carolina, won the qualifying tournament at 16-under 272.

Another five-birdie masterpiece on the back nine gave Sargent a 68 in the third round. It was reminiscent of his performance in regional college tournament play this past spring, when Sargent used a late string of birdies to make a playoff, which he later survived to secure an NCAA national tournament invitation.

Sargent, who was representing Western Kentucky University as a fifth-year senior, finished in a tie for 11th place at NCAAs, the best showing ever for the Hilltoppers. He turned pro over the summer and made it through the initial stage of Korn Ferry qualifying Sept. 24-27 in Mobile, Alabama.

Sargent was a two-time Kentucky Mr. Golf in 2012 and 2013 at SCHS. Two other winners of that award, Justin Thomas and J.B. Holmes, are notable stars at pro golf's top level.

Kal Oakes can be reached via email at sports@news-graphic.com.

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