Sandestin makes Korn Ferry debut; Andrew Novak fires 62

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SANDESTIN, Florida — The Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort has long hosted collegiate tournaments and senior PGA events. Now for the first time the world-renowned Raven Golf Club welcomed the Korn Ferry Tour for the inaugural Emerald Coast Classic, starting Thursday.

Andrew Novak fired a 29 on the back nine, including an eagle on No. 17, and finished the day with a 62. After the first day of play he has a four-stroke lead over Hayden Buckley and Austin Smotherman.

The Robert Trent Jones Jr. design is playing host to a field of 156 players competing for $600,000 purse.

“Sandestin Resort is truly a remarkable location for professional golf, and we are eager to bring the Emerald Coast Classic to this community,” Korn Ferry Tour President Alex Baldwin said. “We have vibrant partners with great track records of building spectacular events, and we are confident that the future stars of the PGA Tour will enjoy competing in this region.”

The Raven Golf Club is a par-71 layout and has previously hosted the PGA Tour Champions Boeing Championship in 2006 and 2007 and has hosted the Golfweek D-3 Fall Invitational since 2010.

The Korn Ferry Tour is the primary pathway for professional golfers looking to earn their PGA Tour card. Since 2013, the Korn Ferry Tour has had 50 available cards for the following season. Twenty-five Tour cards are reserved for the leading points earners at the end of the regular season, and another 25 are up for grabs at the three-event Korn Ferry Tour Finals that follow.