Wrap-up: Cejka wins Pacific Rubiales Colombia Championship
February 16, 2014
By Joe Chemycz, Web.com Tour staff, PGATOUR.COM
- Alex Cejka won his first Web.com Tour title in Colombia. (Stan Badz/PGA TOUR)
BOGOTA, Colombia – Alex Cejka was declared the winner of the Pacific Rubiales Colombia Championship when thunderstorms moved into the Bogota area Sunday afternoon and canceled the fourth round. Cejka was halfway through his final round and leading by one shot over Andrew Putnam and by two over Andres Gonzales when play was called at 2:08 pm.
The rains continued but less than an hour later it was clear that the round couldn’t resume, thus reverting the standings back to 54 holes. Cejka had moved into a three-stroke lead earlier in the day when he established a new course record with an 8-under 63.
His 14-under 199 total was three better than Putnam (68) and four in front of rookie Carlos Ortiz (67). Veteran Bill Lunde (70) finished fourth, five off the pace, while Sam Saunders (69), Chris Wilson (70) and Justin Thomas (71) shared fifth place.
“It’s been a long time,” said Cejka of the win. “I had a feeling the rain might come again. I just tried to hang in there. I knew it was going to be tough this afternoon so I was just grinding. Unlucky or luck, depending on how you see it with the weather. It’s nice to win. It doesn’t matter on what Tour these days because there are so many great players.”
The win is the first for the 43-year old from Germany in his 301 career starts (270 PGA TOUR/31 Web.com Tour) and it was worth $135,000. His last win came at the 2002 Trophee Lancome on the European Tour.
“I wouldn’t mind playing 72 holes but sometimes there is nothing you can do,” he said.
Cejka had completed only two holes of his third rond Saturday when play was halted by an afternoon thunderstorm (for the third consecutive day). Cejka and the rest of the field were forced to return to the Country Club of Bogota course and finish up Sunday morning.
He was nearly flawless as he kept attacking pins and rolling in birdie putts. Cejka birdied Nos. 14, 15, 17 and 18 to regain some distance over Putnam, who was two groups back and put on a charge of his own.
“I saw a leaderboard on 15 but after that I just wasn’t interested,” he said. “I knew I had to play my game and not to worry about anyone else.”
The three consecutive suspensions the first three days of play required officials to figure a way to hurry up the final round. Players were sent back out in their same groups in order to save time and hopefully beat the weather. The first groups were eight holes deep in round four when the final threesome reached the 18th green to complete round three.
The last couple of threesomes had 10-15 minutes to relax, grab a quick sandwich and head back to the tee to start the fourth round.
Shortly after signing his card, Cejka checked the time and had 12 minutes before he was to tee off in the fourth round.
“I was a little nervous the first couple of holes because I knew what was at stake,” said Cejka. “It’s not easy. You have in mind that it’s been a long time.”
Cejka gave his challengers hope when bogeyed his first two holes, dropping him to 12-under and one in front of Putnam and Andres Gonzales, who was in the first group off the tee and was about to turn the front nine in 5-under 30.
Cejka rebounded with birdies at No. 5 and 7 to widen his lead. Putnam, playing in the final group, closed to within one with a birdie at No. 7 just before the horn sounded to halt play.
“When they announced it was going to be 54 holes I was a little relieved,” said the winner. “I wanted to complete the round but I’m so happy to have won again.”
• Heavy thunderstorms moved into the Bogota area for the fourth consecutive day and halted play. Play was stopped at 2:45 pm on Thursday, 3:10 pm on Friday, 3:15 pm on Saturday and 2:08 pm Sunday.
• A total of 2.2 inches of rain fell over the four days of the tournament.
• The third round resumed play at 7am with more than half the field needing to finish the round.
• The third round was completed at 11:45 am.
• Fourth round play was in threesomes off the 1st and 10th tees. Times ranged from 10:10 am to noon.
• Players were NOT re-paired for the fourth round.
• The last time a tournament was shortened to 54 holes was the 2013 Stadion Classic at UGA. Heavy rains prevented the final round from being played. Third-round leader Brendon Todd was declared the winner.
• The last time a tournament was shortened to 54 holes when the fourth round could not be completed was the 2011 Stonebrae Classic. Morning fog delayed the start of the final round in Hayward, Calif. and returned in the afternoon, and ultimately canceled the round, leaving 54-hole Daniel Chopra as the winner.
• This is the second time in five years that the tournament has been cut short by weather. The 2011 event was also hampered by rain throughout the week and only 36 holes were completed. Brendan Pappas earned first place money but the win was unofficial.
• The Pacific Rubiales Colombia Championship has now become the first tournament in Tour history to have a 36-hole event, a 54-hole event and a 72-hole event.
ALEX CEJKA (1st place)
• Cejka moved into the 54-hole lead when he shot a course-record, 8-under 63 in the third round. Cejka birdied four of his final five holes to reach 14-under 199 and take a three-stroke lead into the final round. The previous course record of 64 was first set by Will Wilcox and Kirk Triplett in the third round in 2012. Danny Lee matched that in the opening round last year and Derek Fathauer tied in the second round earlier this week.
• Cejka’s 63 was one stroke off his career best. He shot a 9-under 62 in the second round of the 2013 Utah Championship where he finished T7.
• Cejka’s career best round on the PGA TOUR is an 8-under 63 in the second round of the 2004 Booz Allen Classic.
• This is the first time that Cejka has held the 54-hole lead on the Web.com Tour.
• Cejka has held/shared the 54-hole lead twice in his PGA TOUR career. He shared the lead at The Open Championship in 2001 but finished T13. He held a five-stroke lead after three rounds at THE PLAYERS Championship but posted a 7-over 79 in the final round and dropped to T7, eight back of winner Henrik Stenson.
• Cejka’s 3-stroke lead is the largest 54-hole lead in the tournament’s five-year history. Steve Pate led by two in the inaugural event in 2010.
• Cejka’s 54-hole score of 199 is also the lowest in the tournament’s history. Patrick Cantlay and Jim Renner were tied at 200 (-13) last year.
• This is Cejka’s first Web.com Tour win in his 31st career start. His previous best finishes came in 2013 when he was solo sixth at the United Leasing Championship and T7 at the Utah Championship. Cejka has made 270 career starts on the PGA TOUR. His best finishes are a T2 at the 2003 B.C. Open and a solo second place finish at The International in 2004.
• Cejka’s win comes at the age of 43 years, 2 months and 14 days.
• Cejka picks up a winner’s check for $135,000.
ANDREW PUTNAM (2nd place)
• Putnam birdied four of his final five holes (the other was a bogey) to complete Sunday’s third round with a 3-under 68. His closing birdies pushed him past several players and into solo second place, three back of Cejka. Putnam’s second-place finish is a career best. His previous best weeks came in his rookie season last year – a T7 at the Rex Hospital Open and a T9 at the Mexico Championship.
• Putnam picks up the second-place check for $81,000.
• Putnam bounced back from a bout of food poisoning earlier this week, which forced him to withdraw halfway through Tuesday’s Pro-Am.
“I’ve been better,” he said on Friday. “You usually play good golf when you’re sick because you forget about everything. My caddie and I have been doing a good job with our numbers so far. The course is a lot softer than it was the first day and so it’s much easier to go at some pins and be more aggressive.
• Putnam is in his second full year on the Web.com Tour. He made the cut in 15 of 24 starts last year and finished No. 49 on the final money list but did not earn his PGA TOUR card. Putnam got his year off to a solid start with four sub-par rounds (69-68-70-70/277, 7-under) and a T15 in Bogota last March. He went on to finish T9 at the Mexico Championship and T7 at the Rex Hospital Open.
CARLOS ORTIZ (3rd place)
• Ortiz, a 23-year old Tour rookie, birdied Nos. 14, 16 and 17 Sunday morning to shoot a 4-under 67 and finish at 10-under 203. Ortiz collected third-place money of $51,000.
• Ortiz is a 2013 graduate of the University of North Texas (Denton, TX) where he was the 2011 Sun Belt Conference Champion and named to the All-Sun Belt first team four consecutive years.
• Ortiz, who lives in Zapopan, Mexico, had made only one previous start on the Web.com Tour. He received a sponsor exemption to the 2010 Mexico Open Bicentenary and played as an amateur but shot 74-77 and missed the cut.
BILL LUNDE (4th place)
• Lunde spent five years on the PGA TOUR (2009-13) and has made 67 in 122 career starts. His lone win came at the 2010 Turning Stone Championship in New York. Lunde also has one win on the Web.com Tour – the 2008 Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship in Columbus, Ohio.
SEBASTIAN PINZON (T8)
• Pinzon (pin-ZONE), a native of Bogota, finished T8 this week and will earn a start at the Chile Classic in Santiago in two weeks. Pinzone, 26, is a 2011 graduate of Barry University in Miami, Fla.
• Pinzon was making his third career start on the Web.com Tour. He played as an amateur in 2012 and missed the cut. He received a sponsor exemption again last year and posted rounds of 70-72 but missed the cut by one stroke.
• Pinzon has played on the LatinoAmerica Tour the past two years and made one cut in 14 total starts.
• Curran ran off a streak of 44 consecutive holes without a bogey. Curran, a 2009 Vanderbilt grad and Tour rookie, played his last five holes in round one without a bogey, was bogey-free for both the second and third rounds and played the first three holes of the fourth round before making a bogey at the par-4, 13th.
• Curran (Tequesta, Fla.) is making his second career start on the Web.com Tour. He finished T39 at the 2013 Utah Championship.
• Players who were bogey-free this week:
Round One -- Tony Finau (69), Alex Cejka (68), Carlos Ortiz (67), Michael Kim (66), Alex Rocha (66)
Round Two – Andrew Putnam (66), Rod Pampling (67), Jon Curran (67)
Round Three – Jon Curran (66), Ariel Canete (68), Billy Mayfair (70)
• Did you know…Bogota is located on the west of the Savannah of Bogota, although the geographical site is actually a high plateau in the Andes mountains. The average temperature is 58F. The official highest recorded temperature inside the city limits is 80F and the lowest is 19F.
• Course statistics for the week:
Front 9 (35) Back 9 (36) Total (71) Round 1 35.713 35.490
71.203 Round 2 35.814
36.250 72.064 Round 3 34.471 35.286 69.757 Round 4 -- -- -- Cumulative 35.507 35.751