WICHITA, Kan. -- Brad Elder might be from Oklahoma and have attended the University of Texas, but don't blame him if he ranks Wichita, Kan., as one of his favorite places. The winner in 1999 an drunner-up in 2004, the 32-year-old shot a 6-under-par 65 Sunday for a four-stroke victory at the Preferred Health Systems Wichita Open over Argentinean Fabian Gomez.
|INSIDE THE NUMBERS|
|BRAD ELDER'S FINAL STATS|
In one of four tournaments left from the original Nationwide Tour schedule in 1990, Elder's four-stroke win is the largest margin of victory in the tournament's 18-year history. His final-round 65 matches the lowest final round by a winner in tournament history as well. With his victory, Elder also becomes the career money leader in Wichita Open history.
"I enjoy being here. It's a nice town. I grew up in Tulsa, so this is nearby," he said. "It's a great golf course. It really fits my eye. The people and the fans make it a fun tournament."
The victory is Elder's third career win on the Nationwide Tour, but his first in nearly eight years since winning twice during the 1999 season. On a day where 20-25 mph winds blew scores all over the leaderboard, Elder finished his round with an eagle on the 14th hole, a birdie on No. 15, par on 16 and finished with birdies on holes 17 and 18.
"I finished great. I got it done when I needed to," Elder said of his final five holes. "I'll keep that finish in my mind. That is what I will remember about this tournament. I had some luck today and that helps you win as well. "
The $90,000 winner's check moved Elder from No. 45 on the money list to No. 15 and on pace to finish inside The 25 to earn his 2008 PGA TOUR card. Elder spent four seasons (2000-2003) on the PGA TOUR with his best finish coming at the 2000 SEI Pennsylvania Classic (tie for second).
"It would mean a lot to get back to the PGA TOUR. That's the ultimate goal," Elder said. "I have a long way to go still. These guys out here are all very good. I'm going to have to continue to play very well."
Elder received an ovation at the rowdy par-3 202-yard 17th hole even before hitting his tee shot to 15 feet and sinking his birdie putt. Thanks to a promotion that called for free cheeseburgers for fans anytime a player made birdie during the third and fourth rounds, Elder received a chant of, "Cheeseburger, Cheeseburger, Cheeseburger" for his efforts.
"That was a lot of fun. I won the fans a cheeseburger, so that was cool. They do a great job on that hole and it was exciting. More tournaments should do stuff like that," Elder said.
There was a time late in the day when it appeared Gomez had a solid chance of either a playoff or an outright victory. As Elder stepped to the 15th tee, the tournament was all but decided. Elder's eagle moved him into the lead and he never looked back.
Gomez shot a bogey-free 65 for his first top-10 finish of the rookie's career. The runner-up finish moves him to 60th on the money list.
Elder's victory comes after a rough three-year stretch in which injuries pushed him to finish the 2004 season at no. 103 on the money list, sat out the 2005 season and finished last year at no. 144 on the money list. Elder has bounced back this year, making 13 of 17 cuts this season and four top-10 finishes.
"I've been through a lot. It's nice to remind yourself that you can get back to this level and compete again at this level," Elder said. "I give a lot of credit to my instructor Dr. Jim Suttie down in Florida for getting me back to where I was when I was playing well. He has plenty of clients and he doesn't have to help me. It's nice of him to take the time and help me. I'm swinging and playing as well as I ever have and I can't thank him enough."
Final-Round News & Notes: With his victory, Elder becomes the leading money winner in tournament history with $148,550 in winnings. ... Elder is the sixth player in Nationwide Tour history to win the same tournament twice. Other winners are Hunter Haas/Knoxville Open/2004, 2006; Pat Bates/Siouxland Open/1994, 2001; Ryan Howison/Lakeland Classic/1997, 1999; Peter O'Malley/New Zealand Championship/Holden Clearwater Classic/2002, 2005; Shane Bertsch/BMW Charity Championship/2000, 2005. ... The Nationwide Tour heads to Scranton for the Northeast Pennsylvania Classic, the 22nd event of the season.