Michigan’s Ryan Brehm Wins on the PGA Tour in Puerto Rico

   Ryan Brehm changed his life as a golf professional dramatically with his first PGA Tour win Sunday in the Puerto Rico Open.

  The 35-year-old Mount Pleasant native and Traverse City resident shot a closing 5-under 67 for a 20-under total and six-stroke runaway win.

  Max McGreevy of Dallas, a former University of Oklahoma golfer, finished second with a closing 69 for 14-under.

  Adding to the drama, Brehm needed a win or a second-place finish to maintain status on the PGA Tour. He was playing in the final start granted to him on a minor medical status extension.

  The victory means a two-year exemption on the PGA Tour through the 2023-24 season, which keeps him from heading back to the Korn Ferry. It also means a spot in the 2022 Players Championship next week, a spot in the 2023 Tournament of Champions, and a career-best $660,000 first-place check.

  “That was the calmest I’ve ever been as a pro,” he told the Golf Channel/NBC in a post-round interview. “We planned on playing the Korn Ferry Tour this year and this fit nicely in the schedule. We had four or five weeks out there (Korn Ferry) to get ready for this and really I felt no pressure at all. I felt like we had everything to win and nothing to lose.”

  Brehm, a former Michigan State University standout and assistant coach with an economics degree, the 2007 Michigan Amateur Champion, and three-time Michigan Open Champion, started the final round with a three-stroke lead at Grand Reserve. With his wife Chelsey serving as his caddie, he took the lead through two rounds and stayed there through the final 36 holes.

 Brehm is the first Michigan golfer win on the PGA Tour since Jackson’s Brian Stuard won the 2016 Zurich Classic in New Orleans. Prior to Stuard’s win, John Morse of Marshall won the Hawaiian Open in 1994, Mount Pleasant’s Dan Pohl won twice on the tour in 1986 and also in ‘86 Detroit’s Calvin Peete won his last of 12 tour wins. Brehm is the first former Spartan to win on the PGA Tour.

  Brehm, whose last win prior to Sunday was in 2019 on the Korn Ferry Tour, is part of Mount Pleasant’s rich history of producing elite PGA and LPGA golfers. That list also includes Pohl, Doug LaBelle, Cindy Figg-Currier and Kelly Robbins.

  Brehm’s sister, Natalie, also a former MSU standout, is a former Michigan Women’s Amateur champion. Their mother Debra Lou passed away just over a year ago at the age of 61 from brain cancer and Brehm said last summer it changed his outlook on life and golf.

  Brehm has played 68 PGA Tour events in his career. His best finish prior to Sunday was a tie for 11th last year in the Puerto Rico Open.

  “I don’t know what to say, we just kept our head down and tried to make great golf swing after great golf swing,” he said. “We got a few putts to roll in and if feels great.”