The wind was raging. The palm trees swayed in the breeze. The number of galleries was increasing.
Ryan Brehm, on the other hand, appeared unconcerned by the situation.
Despite huge stakes, the former Michigan State star handled a figurative minefield at Grand Reserve Golf Club with ease on Sunday, needing a top-two performance to keep his PGA Tour credentials. Brehm calmly navigated the route with his wife Chelsey on his bag, as others struggled with the wind.
Brehm, who entered the week ranked 773rd in the world, finished the tournament on a high note, shooting a bogey-free final round 67 to finish at 20 under par and win the Puerto Rico Open by a comfortable margin. It was his first PGA Tour triumph.
Brehm was competing in the final event of his minor medical exemption, meaning a third-place finish or below would have required him to return to the Korn Ferry Tour. He was making his 68th appearance on the Tour.
Brehm and his wife talked about taking things one shot at a time on Sunday, knowing he was close to completing the unprecedented achievement, and he appeared surprisingly calm and composed among the chaos.
Brehm channeled his inner-football coach when addressing his mentality, as one might expect from someone from the Big 10.
“I know I sound like Bill Belichick or Nick Saban,” he continued, “but I wasn’t thinking about the impact of my status or anything this week.” “I believe that is the real lesson here.” I have folks on my team who can help me with that. It’s really simply a matter of putting my head down and hitting good golf shot after good golf shot.
“That’s my job, and I’m going to trust the people around me to do theirs, and they’ll handle all of the minutiae for me.”
The closest competitors to Brehm were Max McGreevy (14 under), favorite Brandon Wu (13 under), and Tommy Gainey (also 13 under), but none of them really put up a fight.
After helping Michigan State win three Big Ten crowns, Brehm went pro in 2008 and later worked as an assistant and even temporary head coach for the Spartans.
Brehm’s most recent triumph came at the 2019 LECOM Health Challenge at Peek’n Peak Resort in Findley Lake, New York, just outside of Buffalo, on the Korn Ferry Tour. That day, he overcame Tim Wilkinson in a playoff.
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