SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – New York native Andrew Svoboda fired an 8-under 64 in Sunday’s final round to win the 24th annual Price Cutter Charity Championship presented by Dr. Pepper and earn his first career title.
Svoboda overcame a two-shot deficit at the start of the day and was flawless in first overtaking the leader and then pulling away from the field at Highland Springs Country Club. His 22-under 266 total was three shots better than playing competitor Fernando Mechereffe (67), who closed with a birdie to take solo second.
Matt Davidson (64) and Daniel Chopra (68) tied for third at 18-under. Third-round leader Alex Prugh (71) finished fifth and 49-year old Joe Durant (65) was sixth.
“It was a great final day. I’ve played in four U.S. Opens and won a lot as an amateur but this is the greatest feeling for me,” said Svoboda, who is in his fourth season on Tour. “For me to be able to win on this level is great. To win means everything to me.”
Svoboda wouldn’t have been a pre-tourney favorite to win this week. The 33-year old St. John’s grad is suffering through a difficult rookie season on the PGA TOUR – he’s made only four cuts in 17 starts and is No. 209 in the FedExCup standings – and was questioning his career choice.
“This really came out of nowhere,” said Svoboda. “It wasn’t very long ago that I was telling my caddie I wasn’t sure if I was going to play golf anymore. It’s a crazy game.”
Svoboda had the pieces fall perfectly together in southwest Missouri. He started with back-to-back birdies and then continued to hit fairways and greens -- he was 18 for 18.
“I knew I had to go low,” he said. “I knew it was going to be at least 20-under.”
He added two more birdies before turning at 18-under and tied for the lead. The decisive shots came early on the back. A flop shot from heavy rough on the par-5, 11th stopped six feet from the cup and he rolled that putt in for birdie.
Consecutive 30-foot birdie putts on the next two holes created some distance and another birdie from 12 feet at No. 15 gave him the edge he needed.
“I knew what was going on,” he said. “When I got to 20 I thought I wanted to get to 22. When I did that, I just made sure to make pars down the stretch.”
• Sunday weather: Mostly cloudy. Overnight low 69. Daytime high of 83. Wind S-SE 7-15 mph.
• Svoboda became the 10th first-time winner on Tour this year.
• Svoboda became the 15th first-time winner in the tournament’s 24-year history. He is also the third consecutive first-time winner, joining Steve Friesen (2011) and Chris Wilson (2012).
• Svoboda picked up a check for $121,500 and moved up from No. 142 to No. 20 on the money list.
• Svoboda’s win comes at the age of 33 years, 10 months and 9 days.
• Svoboda’s win came in his 90th career start on the Web.com Tour. His previous best weeks came last year when he was runner-up twice – T2 at the Colombia Championship and 2nd at the Soboba Golf Classic.
• Svoboda’s winning score of 22-under matches the second-lowest on Tour this year. Kevin Tway was 23-under in winning the Albertsons Boise Open.
• Svoboda hit 10 of 14 fairways, 18 of 18 greens and had 27 putts in the final round.
• Svoboda finished the week T6 in driving accuracy (45 of 56), T4 in greens in regulation (59 of 71) and T5 in total putts (112).
• Svoboda accomplished something that fellow St. John’s University graduate Keegan Bradley failed to do in his rookie (only) season on Tour in 2010 -- win. Bradley made the cut in 18 of 28 starts and had five top-10 finishes, including a runner-up at the Ford Wayne Gretzky Classic. Bradley ended the year No. 14 on the final money list and moved on to the PGA TOUR in 2011.
• Svoboda is in his rookie season on the PGA TOUR and has made only four cuts in 17 starts. His best finish is a T47 at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. He is currently No. 209 on the FedExCup list.
• Svoboda had made two cuts in his five previous starts on the Web.com Tour this year. He finished T12 at the Mexico Championship in late May, his last start on this Tour.
• Fernando Mechereffe’s birdie on the final hole gave him solo second place and broke a three-way at 18-under. The difference turned out be $22,500. His payday of $72,900 jumped him from No. 133 to No. 42 on the money list.
• Mechereffe, 30, is from Brazil and a 2004 graduate of North Carolina State University. He is in his second year on Tour and his previous best finish was a T7 at the 2012 Chiquita Classic.
• Mechereffe had made only five cuts in 13 starts on Tour this year and entered the week No. 133 on the money list. His best finish this season was a T14 at the United Leasing Championship presented by PTI in Evansville, Ind.
• Matt Davidson’s tied for third this week matched his career-best week on Tour – a T3 at the Midwest Classic a few weeks ago and a T3 at the 2010 News Sentinel Open.
• Davidson’s payday of $39,150 jumped him up from No. 68 to No. 34 on the money list.
• Davidson’s final-round 64 matched his career-best score on the last day. He posted a 7-under 64 at the 2011 Midwest Classic.
• Joe Durant, 49, shot a 7-under 65 and vaulted up to solo sixth, his best finish on the Web.com Tour since he tied for fifth at the 1996 Tour Championship. Durant tied for eighth earlier this year at the rain-shortened Stadion Classic at UGA.
• Brice Garnett of Gallatin, Mo. fired a 5-under 67 Sunday to reach 15-under and tie for seventh place. It’s Garnett’s fourth top-10 this year and it moved the Missouri Western State grad from No. 17 to No. 13 on the money list.
• South Carolina rookie Brian Duncan also posted a 67 to join Garnett at 15-under and T7. Duncan had made only four of 18 cuts prior to this week and his best finish had been a tie for 26th at the WNB Golf Classic. Duncan jumped from No. 175 to No. 111 on the money list.
• University of Missouri grad Peter Malnati carded a 5-under 67 to get to 13-under for the week and finish T14. Malnati, 26, has now made the cut in five of six starts this year after beginning the year without any status. His payday to pushed his season total to $56,917, which is enough to earn Special Temporary Membership. Malnati needed to top $54,799, which was the total of Michael Connell, No. 100 on the 2012 money list.
Malnati has scratched together a decent year to date and will earn a spot in next week’s News Sentinel Open in Knoxville, Tenn. with his top-25 finish this week.
|Malnati's Web.com Tour starts in 2013|
|Course statistics: Highland Springs|
• The Web.com Tour returns to Knoxville, Tenn. for next week’s News Sentinel Open. The tournament will be held at the Fox Den Country Club August 15-18.