The remarkable — and rare — way this recent PGA Tour winner first earned his card

Carlos Ortiz shakes hands with Justin Thomas at the 2021 World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba.

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Carlos Ortiz is coming off the best PGA Tour season of his career. The 30-year-old Mexican notched his first PGA Tour win at the 2020 Vivint Houston Open, as well as seven additional top-25 finishes, earning a cool $2.68 million in winnings.

But perhaps one of Ortiz’s greatest achievements is something he did back in 2014, when he won three times on the Korn Ferry Tour to earn an instant upgrade to the big show, the PGA Tour, putting him in elite company. Only 12 players in history have earned their PGA Tour card via instant promotion from the Korn Ferry Tour, and he’s one of them.

On this week’s episode of Subpar, Ortiz joined hosts Colt Knost and Drew Stoltz to discuss what it was like to go on such an incredible run.

“I think it’s because I got there without expectations,” Ortiz said. “I always told myself — I knew I was a consistent player — if I give myself a full year on the Korn Ferry, I’ll prove myself. And I said my goal here is just to keep my card, kind of see how professional golf is. I’d never played a professional tournament before, so I wanted to see how it was. It was, no expectations, I just want to keep my card this year, next year I’ll go to the PGA Tour.

“So I show up the the first tournament and finish third,” he continued. “I’m like, it wasn’t that hard, it’s okay. Second one I miss the cut, third I finish [T22], and fourth tournament I play, I win it. I was like, damn, it’s much easier than I thought!”

Ortiz said he essentially played fearless golf, firing at pins.

“It was one of those years that golf was easy,” he said.

Unfortunately for Ortiz, that feeling of ease didn’t last forever, and he had to downgrade from the PGA Tour after just two seasons. But he clawed his way back, spending two more seasons on the Korn Ferry Tour, and regained his PGA Tour card in 2018. Since then, he hasn’t looked back.

“I struggled, came back to the Korn Ferry Tour, and it’s the best thing that actually happened to me,” Ortiz said. “I feel like that’s when I started to become the player [I am today]: much better, more solid, more consistent.”

For more from Ortiz, including what he’s learned about preparing for majors, check out the full interview below. Photographer

As a four-year member of Columbia’s inaugural class of female varsity golfers, Jessica can out-birdie everyone on the masthead. She can out-hustle them in the office, too, where she’s primarily responsible for producing both print and online features, and overseeing major special projects, such as GOLF’s inaugural Style Is­sue, which debuted in February 2018. Her origi­nal interview series, “A Round With,” debuted in November of 2015, and appeared in both in the magazine and in video form on