By Joe Chemycz, Web.com Tour staff
MIDLAND, Texas – Alex Aragon fired a 6-under 66 and came from five shots back in the final round to win the WNB Golf Classic and collect his second career title. Aragon finished at 16-under 272, one better than Californian Byron Smith (70) and three in front of Brice Garnett (71).
“This is sweet. It’s a little sweeter in the sense that I feel I played a lot better to win this tournament,” said Aragon, who won the TPC Stonebrae Championship this same week one year ago. “Last year conditions took out half the field and you didn’t have to play great the whole time. It validates the first one. It validates everything.”
Will MacKenzie (72) tied for fourth place, four back along with third-round leader Edward Loar (75) and his playing partner Nick Flanagan (74).
Aragon couldn’t contain his joy after finishing his day, though the 54-hole leaders were still an hour behind him.
“I really didn’t miss a shot all day. It was unbelievable,” he said. “I just putted great all day. I started out making everything. I was hitting it really close on the front nine, which isn’t easy to do on a day like today. It was about as good as I can play.”
Sunday’s battle was against the wind, which was steady at 10-20 mph but had some serious gusts in the 30-35 mph range. Aragon attacked early and dropped birdie putts on six of his first seven holes to wipe out the five-stroke deficit he faced at the start.
“I think it was really important today to get on the lead early in the round because of the conditions. You weren’t going to make any birdies on the back nine,” he said. “I got off to such a hot start that I could think about winning the tournament from the very beginning.”
While Aragon was making his early charge, the rest of the field was struggling to make par. The final round scoring average was 73.286, more than three full strokes above Saturday’s average.
“I needed the wind and I needed the wind early,” he admitted. “If Loar goes out there and plays well, nobody was going to catch him.”
Loar, seeking his second win in as many starts, never got untracked in the last round. The Tour’s leading money winner stumbled with three straight bogeys to close the front nine and was three back at the turn.
The only player holding steady was Smith, a 32-year old rookie, who was only one back thru 15 holes, but saw his chances end when his missed the green at the par-3, 16th and made bogey.
With Aragon in the clubhouse, it came down to Smith needing to make a birdie on one of his last two holes to force a playoff.
“It’s really one of those days where you keep your head down. Steady wins the race out here,” said Smith. “If you just hang in there and get it under par you might have a chance.”
Only six players in the field of 77 posted sub-70 scores Sunday, with Aragon’s 66 the best of the bunch.
“I really didn’t feel sharp coming into this week,” he said. “I felt like I was going to play well but certainly not this well. It got better as the week went on.”
Fourth-Round Notes & Quotes:
-- Sunday weather: Mostly sunny. Wind W-SW 10-20 mph with gusts 30-35 mph. Overnight low 55. Daytime high 90.
-- Earned his second career win in his 67th career Web.com Tour start at the age of 34.
-- Picked up a check for $108,000 and increases his season total to $117,160.
-- Moved from No. 87 to No. 6 on the money list.
-- Wins almost exactly one year after his first title. He captured last year’s TPC Stonebrae Championship in Hayward, Calif. on April 15, 2012.
-- Finished the week No. 2 in total putts with 101.
-- Matched his career-best final round score with a 6-under 66. His previous fourth-round low score was 66 – a 5-under 66 at the 2009 BMW Charity Pro-Am and a 4-under 66 at the 2012 TPC Stonebrae Championship.
-- Matched his career-low score in relation to par:
-- Earned his first top-10 finish since his victory at the 2012 TPC Stonebrae Championship.
-- Matched the second-best come-from-behind win in tournament history:
-- Picks up a check for $64,800 and increases his season total to $85,201.
-- Moves from No. 47 to No. 9 on the the money list.
-- Loar picks up a check for $24,800 and increases his season total $189,484 and remains No. 1 on the money list.
-- Loar has now finished T19, T2, 1 and T4 in his last four starts.
-- Is a collective 51-under par in his last three starts:
20-under -- Chile Classic
17-under -- Chitimacha Louisiana Open
12-under -- WNB Golf Classic
-- Brice Garnett has now finished T2, T22, T6 and 3rd in his last four starts. The Missouri native moved up to three spots to No. 4 on the money list.
-- Australian Rod Pampling fired a 3-under 69 and finished T7 in his first Web.com Tour start since the end of the 2001 season – a span of approximately 11 ½ years. Pampling has been a member of the PGA Tour since graduating from this Tour and has made 195 cuts in 286 starts. He won twice, including the 2006 Bay Hill Invitational. This year, the Dallas-area resident has made two cuts in five starts with a T57 at the Puerto Rico Open his best finish.
-- Monday qualifier Todd Baek, 21, of San Diego State University posted scores of 72-68-67-70-277 to wind up at 11-under par and T7. Baek, born in South Korea and living in San Diego, led the field in putts per round with 25.00. He will earn a berth in the Tour’s next stop, the South Georgia Classic in two weeks. This was Baek’s second career start on Tour. He also Monday qualified at the Chitimacha Louisiana Open last month and finished T52. Baek turned professional last year.
-- Joe Durant shot a 1-over par 73 and finished T11. Durant is now 4-for-4 in cuts made this year and No. 52 on the money list. He finished T28 at the Panama Claro Championship, T36 at the Colombia Championship, T40 at the Chitimacha Louisiana Open and T11 at the WNB Golf Classic.
|Course statistics for the week:|
-- Did you know that Midland is home to the Midland RockHounds, a Texas League minor league baseball team. It is the Double-A affiliate of the Oakland Athletics. Among the notable residents of Midland: LPGA Hall of Fame member Judy Rankin, author Larry L. King, actors Tommie Lee Jones and Woody Harrelson and the Bush family – former Presidents George H. and George W. Bush, former first Ladies Barbara and Laura Bush and former Florida governor Jeb Bush.
-- The Web.com Tour will take one week off before resuming the domestic schedule at the South Georgia Classic presented by First State Bank and Trust Company April 22-28 at Kinderlou Forest Golf Club in Valdosta. Last year, Luke List fired a final-round 68 for a 16-under total and a two-stroke win over Brian Stuard. It was the first career win for List, who went on to finish No. 4 on the 2012 money list.