Q & A with Michigan’s Ryan Brehm, PGA Tour player

Ryan Brehm

Ryan Brehm

Ryan Brehm was born and raised in Mt. Pleasant, MI, and excelled at golf at an early age. He was named Mr. Golf in Michigan as a senior at Mt. Pleasant HS in 2003-4. He then earned a scholarship to Michigan State University (MSU) where he continued his stellar play. In 2005, Brehm became the first amateur since 1966 to make the cut at the PGA TOUR’s Buick Open in Grand Blanc. In 2008, during his senior season at MSU, he earned honorable mention All-American honors having led the Spartans to their second straight Big Ten title. He was a four-time member of the All-Big Ten teams. In 2007, Brehm won the Michigan Amateur. Turning pro after MSU, Brehm won back-to-back Michigan Open titles in 2009-10.

Brehm played on PGA Tour Canada in 2014 and 2015. His best finish was tied for second at the 2015 Great Waterway Classic. He played on the Web.com Tour in 2016, winning the final regular season event, the WinCo Foods Portland Open. This win moved him to fourth on the money list and secured him a PGA Tour card for 2017.

Brehm, 37, earned his first PGA Tour win at the 2022 Puerto Rico Open. Before his win, Brehm had never finished in the top 10 of a PGA Tour event, was ranked 773rd in the world,  and was under a medical extension. His wife Chelsey was his caddie in Puerto Rico.

In the 2022-23 season, he played in 34 events, made nine cuts and had four Top 25 finishes. He made $596,227 and was 169th in FedEx points.

Ryan and Chelsey now reside in Traverse City and during the winters he practices and plays out of Fort Myers, FL.

He spoke by phone with Terry Moore in December.

TM: Due to your win in Puerto Rico in 2022, you still have PGA Tour status for next year, correct?

RB: Correct. That’s the good news. But now I’m on the chopping block so I have to play better in ’24.

TM: Looking back at the ’23 season, how would you evaluate it?

RB: It was hot and cold. At times, I played well and at other times not so well. I lacked consistency. I dedicated myself to getting better. I adjusted my technique and had some growing pains with it. Meanwhile, everyone else is trying to get better, too.

TM: How would you describe your change of technique?

RB: I wanted more consistency through the bag so my preferred ball shape was a small draw. Not only with my driver but with irons and wedges. This season my driving went awry but my coach (Michigan State’s men’s golf coach) Casey Lubahn and I worked on it and it improved.

TM: Do you look at your Shotlink stats to pinpoint areas you need to work on, say your approaches from 100 yards in?

RB: I don’t get too caught up with stats because I know my weaknesses. And sometimes stats can be misleading. My putting stats were good so that’s not holding me back. But I also know my par-five scoring was abysmal.

TM: Talk more about par-five scoring because your length should be an area where you excel.

RB: Many people have the misconception that a player with my length should always go for the par-fives in two. That’s not always the case. The Tour sets up the par-fives so you may have some risk with the second shot. But what hurt my scoring on par-fives was my pitching and chipping. I just didn’t get it up and down for birdie enough. I’m working through some short-game issues and need to have more confidence in my technique and execution.

TM: How much do you enjoy playing on Tour and how much of it is a grind?

RB: It’s a little of both. Certainly, the rewards outweigh the frustrations. It’s a job that I enjoy doing. When you play well, there’s a tremendous feeling of accomplishment.

TM: Off the course, who do you and Chelsey socialize wih?

RB: We’re close to the Dahmans, the Lashleys, the Hubbards, and the Schenks—all Tour couples. We’re all close in age, get along well, and have similar interests.

TM: Speaking of Nate Lashley, I see he was quoted recently for criticizing the $100 million allocated to the top 20 players for the Player Impact Program (PIP.) As you know, PIP rewards players for internet searches, earned media (unique articles), TV sponsor exposure, general population awareness and golf fan awareness. What did think of Lashley’s comments?

RB. I loved them. I completely agree with him. The Tour’s brand is a result of all of its players, and not just the top 20. When people go to a tournament they’re usually watching 150 players compete against each other. That larger field makes the competition special. One of the appeals of the PGA Tour is watching a player break out of the pack and win. Adam Schenk lost in a playoff this year and it was a great story because he hadn’t won. Fans identify with those players.  Basically, the Tour should reward all the players who have built the brand, including those on the Champions Tour.

TM: What’s your take on the ongoing negotiations between the Tour and LIV?

RB: I have zero information on what might happen. I’m hopeful. I just don’t think the PGA Tour has to be more like LIV. It was doing fine before LIV; its model was doing fine. I have read that the Tour is exploring offering equity to its members, as a way to buy into the new entity. I certainly like that idea.

TM: Who makes up your team that helps you on and off the course?

RB: My wife Chelsey heads the list as well as our families. I’m also indebted to Casey Lubahn, Matt Johnson with “On Target Living” and Andy Matthews with “Neurospeak.” All of them have been extremely helpful.

TM: Any other Tour players with whom you’re close?

RB: Lucas Glover is a friend who has offered me good advice. Considering what he overcame in terms of his game it’s been an inspiration.

TM: What’s your schedule look like for early next season?

RB: I plan to go to Hawaii for the Sony, then the desert swing, Torrey Pines and Waste Management in Phoenix. I’m not currently eligible for the “elevated” tournaments like Pebble Beach, LA, Memorial, etc.

TM: Two final questions: what are your favorite Tour stops and, if you could win another tournament what would it be?

RB: I like Kapula in Hawaii, Torrey Pines in California and PGA National in Florida. Outside of a major, I would love to win in Detroit at the Rocket Mortgage Classic. Michigan golf fans are the best anywhere.

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