Rico Hoey has played in just one PGA Tour event and that was more than three years ago.
After earning his first Korn Ferry Tour win on Sunday in the 2023 Visit Knoxville Open, Hoey took a huge step toward perhaps being a regular on the big tour.
Hoey birdied the par-5 18th hole Sunday at Holston Hills Country Club in Knoxville, Tennessee, to win by a shot over Chase Seiffert and Norman Xiong. Hoey’s final-round 65 got him to 14 under for the week. It’s his sixth top-10 finish of the 2023 season.
“I’m just ecstatic. There was a lot of hard work. Everyone works hard. And I have battled through things for myself, and I’m just really happy to get it done,” he said. “And I never thought the day would come, but a lot of people told me it would.”
He punctuated his birdie on 18 with an animated fist pump.
“It was just like your heart’s racing, you can’t think straight, your head’s all over the place. I couldn’t control my hands,” he said of his putt on 18. “I just told myself: ‘Just hit it down the line and see what happens.’”
It’s his first win in 82 Korn Ferry starts and his second professional win since he claimed the 2017 Freedom 55 Financial Championship on the PGA Tour Canada.
The last 10 events of 2023 have been feast or famine for Hoey.
Rico Hoey poses with the trophy after winning the 2023 Visit Knoxville Open at Holston Hills Country Club in Knoxville, Tennessee. (Photo: Alex Slitz/Getty Images)
Prior to winning this week, he tied for second. In the two events before that, he missed the cut. The three events before those missed cuts were three consecutive ties for third. In his last 10 starts, he either has finished in the top 10 or he has missed the cut.