In the final round of the Chiquita Classic, the second event in the Web.com Tour Finals, Andrew Svoboda defeats Will MacKenzie on the first hole of a sudden-death playoff.
DAVIDSON, N.C. – Andrew Svoboda two-putted the first extra hole to win the Chiquita Classic, the second of four Web.com Tour Finals’ events, in a playoff over Will MacKenzie.
Svoboda posted a final-round 70 at River Run Country Club to finish at 12-under and tied with MacKenzie (67), who chipped in for eagle on the par-5, 18th in regulation.
Ben Martin (68) and John Peterson (71) tied for third, one-stroke back. Ryo Ishikawa (66) finished two off the pace.
The Finals match Web.com Tour and PGA TOUR players together competing for 50 PGA TOUR cards and position for the 2013-14 PGA TOUR season that begins in early October. The leading money-earner of the Finals earns a spot in THE PLAYERS Championship in 2014.
The $180,000 winner’s check moves Svoboda into a tie for first with Trevor Immelman, winner of last week's Hotel Fitness Championship, on the Finals money list.
Svoboda only made five cuts in 18 starts on the PGA TOUR this year. He was inconsistent off the tee for most of the season and struggled around the greens. The St. Johns University grad put a new driver in the bag a few weeks ago and hit 39 out 54 fairways this week. Svoboda also changed the grips on his wedges to improve feel and help him around the greens.
One thing that aided Svoboda this week was the fact that he played in the Wyndham Championship earlier in the year. Svoboda finished T37 that week but did card a 65 in the opening round. The New York native believed that competing at Sedgefield Country Club gave him an advantage this week.
“I think playing there really helped me,” he said. “This course is very similar to that course in a lot of respects.”
Before the start of the Finals Svoboda did not control his fate at the Cox Classic, the final event of the Regular Season, because he missed the cut by one-stroke. He was No. 25 on the projected money list throughout much of the final round. Svoboda paid close attention to the action the entire day checking the updates on his computer.
Bronson La’Cassie had a putt on the 72nd hole of the tournament for birdie that determined who got into the top 25 on the Regular Season money list. When that putt went in, Svoboda felt very lucky to have finished inside the number.
“I have had a lot of good fortune,” he said. “If Bronson (La’Cassie) makes that putt I get in the top 25, if he misses that, I’m out.”
When La’Cassie made that putt to get into a playoff with Matt Bettencourt Svoboda received a call from his coach to head to the golf course for the card ceremony.
“I couldn’t believe it,” he said. “I put all my golf clothes on and went over to the course to get my card. That was fun.”
Regaining his PGA TOUR card was a huge relief for Svoboda. He felt like that freed him up to win this week.
“That would have made these events a lot tougher,” he said. “Now you’re playing for your card instead of playing to win a tournament.”
Svoboda’s confidence has really taken off with this victory. Svoboda is excited to get back to the PGA TOUR and plans on working really hard to improve on his weaknesses in the off season.
“I’m set now for next year,” he said. “I think if I drive it good and my short game is good I will have a chance next year on TOUR.”
• Sunday weather: Partly cloudy. Wind NW 5-10 mph. High of 88.
• Sunday's playoff was the fifth of the 2013 season. Four of the five have ended on the first extra hole.
• The playoff was the second in the tournament’s four-year history and the second in as many years. Russell Henley won in a playoff last year.
• Svoboda became the third two-time winner on the Web.com Tour in 2013. He won the Price Cutter Charity Championship in mid-August. He joined Michael Putnam and Ben Martin as the only double winners this season.
• Svoboda collected a check for $180,000 and joined Hotel Fitness Championship winner Trevor Immelman in the No. 1 spot on the Finals Priority Ranking.
• Svoboda graduated from the Web.com Tour in 2012 was a rookie on the PGA TOUR in 2013. He made the cut in just five of 18 starts and his best finish was a T37 at the Wyndham Championship. He ended the season No. 207 on the FedExCup points list.
• Svoboda finished No. 25 on the Regular Season money list and thus was guaranteed a card for the upcoming 2013-14 season, which begins next month.
• Svoboda earned his first career win at the Price Cutter Charity Championship last month and then missed the cut in his next two starts (Cox Classic, Hotel Fitness Championship) prior to his win this week.
• Svoboda finished the week T4 in fairways hit (39 of 56), T9 in greens in regulation (52 of 72) and T24 in total putts 115.
• Svoboda finished 6-under on the par-4s this week and led the field in that category. He was 5-under on the par-5s and just 1-under on the par-3s.
• Svoboda became the 11th third-round leader/co-leader to go on to win this year.
• MacKenzie chipped in for eagle from 35 feet off the green at the par-5, 18th hole and posted a 5-under 67 and a 12-under 276 total. MacKenzie wound up losing the playoff to Svoboda but his runner-up effort is his career best on the Web.com Tour. His previous best finishes were a pair of T4s at the 2011 BMW Charity Pro-Am and the 2013 WNB Golf Classic. It’s also his best finish since he won the 2008 Viking Classic on the PGA TOUR – a span of 118 combined starts (47 Web.com Tour/71 PGA TOUR).
• MacKenzie’s runner-up check for $108,000 moved him into a tie for 4th place on the Finals Priority Ranking
• Ben Martin birdied four holes in a row (Nos. 9-12) and went on to shoot a 4-under 68. Martin wound up at 11-under and one shot out of a playoff. His T3 effort marked his sixth top-6 finish in his last nine starts. Martin wound up No. 2 on the Regular Season money list and his payday today moved him up to No. 7 on the Finals Priority Ranking.
|Ben Martin since mid-June|
• John Peterson two-putted the 72nd hole for a birdie that moved him into a tie for third place. It’s the third consecutive top-5 effort for the former LSU All-American. Peterson’s last two weeks have put him No. 6 on the Finals Priority Ranking.
|Peterson's last three starts|
• Peterson has now made the cut in seven straight starts. Starting at the Midwest Classic in mid-July, Peterson has posted only one score over par in his last 27 rounds -- a 2-over 73 in the first round of the Mylan Classic. In his last 27 rounds, Peterson is a cumulative 90-under par and has a scoring average of 68.14.
• Peterson has been under par in the final round in his past seven starts.
• Peterson made the cut in 13 of 15 starts this year and wound up No. 30 on the Regular Season money list. He also made the cut in five of six starts on the PGA TOUR and finished T8 at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.
• Japan’s Ryo Ishikawa shot a 6-under 66 that gave him a 10-under total and solo fifth place. Ishikawa missed the cut at last week’s Hotel Fitness Championship, his first career start on the Web.com Tour. He moved to No. 12 on the Finals Priority Ranking.
•Course statistics for the week:
• The Web.com Tour moves into Ohio next week for the third event of the Finals series. The Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship will be held at Ohio State University’s famed Scarlet Course Sept. 9-15. Last year, Virginia All-American Ben Kohles rolled in a 22-foot birdie putt on the first playoff hole to beat Luke Guthrie and win in his first professional start. Kohles, the 54-hole leader, birdied two of his final three holes in regulation to finish at 12-under par and force a playoff with Guthrie, an All-American from the University of Illinois.