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Blair clinches PGA Tour return with Ellie Mae Classic victory

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Zac Blair is headed back to the PGA Tour.

Blair recorded his first Korn Ferry Tour victory Sunday at the Ellie Mae Classic, winning by a shot to secure his place among the 25 card earners after next week’s regular-season finale in Portland. Blair moved from 31st to 10th on the tour's money list.

“I’ve been playing really good the last four or five weeks, kind of knew that I was close, but at the same time I was kind of in a weird situation where I was playing a lot, so I knew I had to either take a break or get my card,” Blair said after shooting 3-under 67 to finish at 17 under, just ahead of runner-up Brandon Crick. “It was nice to lock it up, get it done, and [I’m] excited to get back out there [on Tour].

The 28-year-old Blair, who played four seasons on the PGA Tour before losing his card prior to this season, was competing for the sixth straight week on the Korn Ferry Tour. Before that, he had just one week off after capping a nine-week stretch with a missed cut at the U.S. Open.

Yet he had enough in the tank to post four rounds of 67 or better at TPC Stonebrae. His final round included just three birdies, but he also made no bogeys. He nearly dropped a shot at the last, leaving himself a ticklish 3-footer after missing his birdie roll from 35 feet.

“Not really the putt you want on Poa annua greens, last in, but at the same time, any putt to win obviously is a pretty good one,” Blair said. “Glad I made it.”

Full-field scores from the Ellie Mae Classic

In his four previous seasons on Tour, Blair only cracked the top 100 in points once, finishing 59th in his rookie season in 2014-15. His last top-10 finish on Tour came at the 2017 Houston Open. But he has seemingly rediscovered his game of late, notching four finishes of T-11 or better in five weeks prior to the Ellie Mae.

Finishing two shots back of Blair was Stanford product Maverick McNealy, who bogeyed his final hole to drop into solo third at 15 under. However, McNealy’s finish moved the 2015 Haskins Award winner to 20th in the money list, which is likely good enough to clinch a spot among the top 25 after next week. He's 88 points ahead of No. 26 Marty Dou.

The top 25 money leaders following the Portland Open earn PGA Tour cards while 25 more cards will be available during the Korn Ferry Tour Finals, which begin in two weeks.