By Joe Chemycz, Web.com Tour staff
CANONSBURG, Penn. – Ben Martin fired a 4-under 67 Sunday and won the Mylan Classic in suburban Pittsburgh by five shots, collecting his second win in six weeks.
Martin is the Tour’s hottest player, with five top-6 finishes in his last six starts. He has 13 top-30 finishes in 17 starts this year and has moved to No. 2 on the money list.
“At the start of the year consistency is one of the things I wanted to work on,” said Martin, a playoff winner at the United Leasing Championship in Evansville, Ind. “My coach used to tell me that great golf is playing consistently good golf. I’ve had some runs before but this is the most consistent I’ve ever played. It’s fun to keep this going.”
Martin finished at 17-under 267, one shot off the tournament record, and collected a check for $121,500 while lapping the field.
Former U.S. Amateur champion Kelly Kraft was the only one within shouting distance after trailing by eight when the sun came up. Kraft tallied 10 birdies and vaulted up the board with a 7-under 64 to finish at 12-under par.
Nick Rousey (69), Chad Collins (70), Brad Elder (71), I.J. Jang (71), Ariel Canete (70) and Whee Kim (73) all finished tied for third at 7-under par but a distant 10 shots back of the winner’s total.
The final day, and much of the week belonged to Martin, who started the last round at Southpointe Golf Club up by four shots after closing with consecutive bogeys Saturday.
“I got a text from my friend Charles Warren who told me that if I went out and shot the best round of the day today I’d probably be okay,” said Martin. “My caddie and I talked about playing today like I was one shot behind. Starting off with a four-shot lead, sometimes you can get defensive.”
Martin played a little cat-and-mouse game before finally pulling away late with a chip-in eagle at No. 15 and closing birdies at 17 and 18.
“I was a little more nervous this week because in Evansville I was chasing the lead,” said Martin, who came from five back on the final day to get into a four-man playoff there. “Playing with the lead all day is probably a little tougher.”
Not that he really knew. Martin chooses not to look at the electronic leaderboards during his rounds.
“I glanced at one on the 12th tee and saw that Kelly Kraft was 11-under and I was 14,” he said. “I was just trying to stay in the process of each shot. I hate to use the phrase ‘one shot at a time’ but that’s what it was.”
Martin started quickly with three birdies on his first five holes and opened up an eight-stroke lead at one point.
Consecutive bogeys, followed by seven straight pars and Kraft’s birdie barrage narrowed the margin to two after 14 holes. Just about the time Kraft was making bogey at No. 16 Martin chipped in for an eagle from 20 at the 311-yard, 15th hole.
“I chipped in for eagle at the 15th hole in the final round last week in Boise and I just tried to feed off those good memories,” said Martin, who was T6 a week ago. “I kind of had that thought in my head. It was similar but this one didn’t have as much green to work with.”
Martin bumped his wedge and saw it hit the pin and disappear into the cup.
“That was huge,” said Martin. “After something like that you can get to up but I just try to flatline and told myself ‘let’s finish this thing right.’”
Martin will take a two-week break from the Tour, heading to the beach for a vacation before he resumes his chase for the No. 1 spot on the money list currently held by two-time winner Michael Putnam.
“You start thinking about being number one,” said Martin. “I knew that I wanted to have any chance to be there I was going to have to win this week.”
-- Weather – partly cloudy. Wind N-NW 7-15 mph with gusts to 20 mph. High of 73.
-- Ben Martin became the second multiple winner on Tour this year, joining Michael Putnam in that category.
-- Martin collected a check for $121,500 to increase his season total to $396,249. He also moved up from No. 4 to No. 2 on the money list. He trails No. 1 Michael Putnam by $34,435.
-- Martin leads the Tour in birdies this year with 269.
-- Martin led the tournament in birdies with 25. Kelly Kraft was second with 22.
-- Martin has now posted par-or-better scores in 23 of his last 24 rounds.
-- Martin has posted sub-par scores in 21 of his last 24 rounds.
-- Martin is a cumulative 96-under par in his last 24 rounds.
-- Martin’s scoring average for his last 24 rounds is 67.166.
-- Kelly Kraft has now made the cut in five of 11 starts this year. He finished T17 at last week’s Albertsons Boise Open. Kraft collected a check for $72,900 and moved from No. 137 to No. 38 on the money list.
-- Nick Rousey fired a 2-under 69 to finish in a six-way tie for third place. Rousey tied his career-best finish – he was solo third at the rain-shortened Stadion Classic at UGA. He collected a check for $28,856 and moved up 15 spots on the money list from No. 43 to No. 28.
-- Texan Brad Elder tied for third this week – his first top-10 finish since he tied for seventh at the 2012 Chile Classic and his best week since he won the 2007 Preferred Health Systems Wichita Open (a span of 108 starts).
-- Ariel Canete of Argentina tied for third this week, his first top10-finish in 17 starts this year. Canete, the 2012 Order of Merit winner on the NEC Series-LatinoAmerica Tour, also jumped 28 spots from No. 88 to No. 60 on the money list.
-- I.J. Jang, a 40-year-old rookie from Korea, also tied for third this week. Jang moved up from No. 108 to No. 76 on the money list.
-- First-round leader Zack Sucher fired a 5-under 66 (the second-best round of the day) to vault into a tie for 10th place. Sucher’s payday of $15,525 pushed his season total to $64,058 and earned him Special Temporary Membership on Tour. Sucher needed $6,266 in order to better Michael Connell’s 2012 total of $54,799, which was No. 100 on last year’s money list. Sucher was making only his third start of the season. He was T2 at the South Georgia Classic in Valdosta in late April.
-- Scott Harrington made a double-eagle at the 553-yard, 13th hole when he knocked in a 6-iron from 217 yards.
“I didn’t see it but Fran (Quinn) was up the lay-up area and he said it hit about a foot left of the hole and one-hopped to the right and into the cup,” said Harrington, who had no birdies en route to a 7-over 78. “It was just a horrible day otherwise. Everything that could have gone wrong, did. Every putt that could have lipped out, did. It couldn’t have been worse. Well, I guess it could have been three strokes worse (laughing).”
-- Harrington’s double-eagle is the second double-eagle in the tournament’s four-year history and both have come in the fourth round. Rahil Gangee made an ace at the par-4, 15th hole in the final round in 2011
-- Harrington’s double-eagle is the second double-eagle on Tour this year. Bhavik Patel made a two at the par-5, 8th hole in the opening round of the Mexico Open.
-- Harrington’s double-eagle was the second of his career. The first came during his sophomore season at Northwestern (2000) in the Windon Memorial at Knollwood CC in Lake Forest, Ill.
-- Best rounds of the day:
64 – Kelly Kraft
66 – Zack Sucher
67 – Ben Martin, John Peterson, Brett Stegmaier
-- The Web.com Tour returns to Springfield, Mo. for next week’s Price Cutter Charity Championship. The tournament is one of four original events that remains from the Tour’s inaugural season in 1990. The 24th edition will once again be contested at the Highland Springs Country Club August 8-11.