Curran wraps record week with win in Brazil
March 16, 2014
- Jon Curran won the Brasil Champions presented by HSBC on Sunday. (Halleran/Getty Images)
SAO PAULO, Brazil – Jon Curran needed only a 2-under-par 69 on the final day to cap off a record week with a four-stroke win at the Brasil Champions presented by HSBC. Curran jumped out in front with a 10-under 61 in the first round at the Sao Paulo Golf Club and never looked back in a wire-to-wire win, only the second on Tour in the past six-plus years.
The 27-year-old Vanderbilt grad slammed the door with a birdie on the final hole for a 25-under 259 total to collect his first career win and a first-place check worth $144,000.
“I kept thinking to myself all day that I wasn’t nervous, I was just anxious,” said Curran, who led by four at the start of the day. “I said to myself that it was going to be okay if I wasn’t in the lead at some point, I just wanted to have a chance on the back nine.”
Alex Cejka, winner of the Pacific Rubiales Colombia Championship, finished second at 21-under. Australia’s Ash Hall solo third, five back while Manuel Villegas was fourth, seven off the pace.
Curran never lost the lead on Sunday and very few even had a chance as the Massachusetts native etched his name in the Tour record-book with highlights every day – he made eight consecutive birdies the first round, had the second-lowest 36-hole score (125) in history, matched the lowest 54-hole score ever (190) and his 259 total equaled the fifth-best since the Tour’s inception in 1990.
“Somebody once said that you’re going to face something in the final round that you haven’t faced all week,” he said. “The guys who win deal with it and the guys that don’t, don’t win.”
Curran didn’t have to deal with too much on Sunday as he plugged along with a conservative attack that had him firing into the middle of greens and away from any dangerous pin locations.
“Maybe it wasn’t as aggressive as I had been the first three days,” he admitted. “As a result I had some good looks at birdie but they were more in the 20-foot range.”
He didn’t make many but then, he didn’t need many.
His closest challengers Cejka (69) and Hall (70) didn’t put any pressure on the leader.
“For the circumstances, I’ve never been in that position before with so much on the line, I stayed pretty calm,” said Curran, who now lives in Tequesta, FL. “Thankfully nobody was making a charge so it wasn’t like I was getting lapped because nobody was going too low. I was hitting a lot of steady, consistent shots. It was still a fight but thankfully I had enough cushion.”
Luckily he had enough time too. Minutes after rolling in the final putt and signing his card, afternoon thunderstorms bubbled over and prevented the trophy presentation from taking place outside. The rain was about the only thing that Curran couldn’t keep at a distance this week.
NOTES AND QUOTES
• Sunday weather: Sunny before noon then partly cloudy. Wind NNW 8-15 mph. High of 90. Thunderstorms at 4:00, minutes after the final putt dropped.
• Curran wins in just his fourth career start. Curran is in his first full season as a member of the Web.com Tour. He had made only career start (T39 at 2013 Utah Championship/sponsor exemption) prior to this year.
• In his two previous starts this year, Curran finished T21 at the Pacific Rubiales Colombia Championship and missed the cut at last week’s Chile Classic.
• Curran has made one cut in four career starts on the PGA TOUR. He tied for 24th at the 2013 Puerto Rico Open. His missed cuts came at the 2010 US Open, the 2013 Zurich Classic of New Orleans and the 2013 Travelers Championship.
• Curran is originally from Hopkinton, Mass., and now lives in Tequesta, Fla. He is a 2009 graduate of Vanderbilt University.
• Curran picked up a check for $144,000 and moved from No. 44 to No. 2 on the money list.
• Curran wins at the age of 27 years and 30 days.
• Curran is the third consecutive first-time winner on Tour this year. He joins Alex Cejka (Pacific Rubiales Colombia Championship) and Adam Hadwin (Chile Classic) on that list.
• Curran is the first rookie winner on Tour this year.
• Curran is the second 54-hole leader to go on to victory this year (Adam Hadwin, Chile Classic)
• Curran joined 2013 champion Benjamin Alvarado as players who earned their fist career win in this event.
• Curran joined 2013 champion Benjamin Alvarado as 54-hole leaders in this event who went on to win.
• Curran is only the second player in the last six years to win wire-to-wire (no ties) on Tour. This is a list of wire-to-wire winners in the 10 previous years:
Chris Nallen, Gila River Golf Classic
Kevin Na, Mark Christopher Charity Classic
Martin Laird, Athens Regional Foundation Classic
Colt Knost, Price Cutter Charity Championship
Andres Gonzales, Soboba Golf Classic
Jon Curran, Brasil Champions
• Curran’s 29 birdies this week came close to the Tour record for most birdies in a single tournament:
31 Craig Lile 2003 Omaha Classic
29 Jon Curran 2014 Brasil Champions
• Curran’s 259 score this week matches the fifth-lowest in Tour history:
Steve Wheatcroft, University of Maryland GC (par 71), College Park, Md., in winning the 2011 Melwood Prince George’s County Open (29-under)
Chris Smith, The Champions Club (par 71), Omaha, Neb., in winning the 1997 Omaha Classic (26-under)
Daniel Chopra, The Dominion Club (par 72), Glen Allen, Va., in winning the 2004 Henrico County Open (30-under)
James Nitties, Nicklaus GC at LionsGate (par 71), Overland Park, Kan., in winning the 2011 Midwest Classic (26-under)
Mark Anderson, Thornblade Club (par 71), Greenville CC/Chanticleer (par 72) & The Reserve at Lake Keowee (par 72), Greenville, S.C., in winning the 2013 BMW Charity Pro-Am (27-under)
Jon Curran, Sao Paulo Golf Club (par 71), Sao Paulo, Brazil in winning the 2014 Brasil Champions
Mark Hensby, Hardscrabble CC (par 70), Fort Smith, Ark., in winning the 1998 Fort Smith Classic (20-under)
Roland Thatcher, Champions Run (par 71), Omaha, Neb., in winning the 2007 Cox Classic (24-under)
Casey Wittenberg, Le Triomphe CC (par 71), Lafayette, La., in winning the 2012 Chitimacha Louisiana Open (24-under)
Ben Kohles, Champions Run (par 71), Omaha, Neb., in winning the 2012 Cox Classic (24-under)
• The top three players on the leaderboard after 54 holes – Jon Curran, Alex Cejka and Ash Hall – were a combined 62-under par for the first three rounds. That’s an average of 6.88 strokes under par by each player each day. Those same three had combined for 76 birdies over the first three days (25.33/day) but made only 10 in Sunday’s final round.
• Ash Hall’s first top 10 of the year came in early March at the New Zealand Open in Queenstown, a T4, which was sandwiched around starts in the Web.com Tour's first two events in Colombia and Chile.
• Alex Cejka, playing in the final pairing, birdied the par-5, 17th hole to break a second-place tie with Hall, who was in the group directly in front of him.
• Cejka all but locked up a return trip to the PGA TOUR next year with his runner-up finish this week. Cejka kept pace with leader Jon Curran throughout the final round but wound at xx-under par and xx short of Jon Curran’s winning total. Cejka won the Pacific Rubiales Colombia Championship and earned $135,000 for his victory in Bogota. The 43-year-old from Germany pocketed $86,400 from this week’s purse to push his season total (after only two starts) to $221,400. That total would have placed him 10th on the Tour money list after 21 regular season events last year and would have guaranteed him a spot on Tour. Andy Svoboda finished No. 25 in the regular season with $140,540.
• Colombia’s Manuel Villegas put on a big charge and climbed within four of the lead on the back nine but saw his hopes dashed with a double-bogey at the par-5, 17th. Villegas was 6-under for the day and 19-under when disaster struck.
“It happened so fast,” he said. “It literally took less than a minute. You play so well for the week and then it just disappears.”
Villegas was only 14 yards off the green in two but chunked his third into a bunker (“I wasn’t aggressive enough”) and his fourth from the sand kept trickling away from him until it went off the green. He pitched to 8 feet with his fifth shot but missed the putt.
“I wasn’t looking at the leaderboard at all. I didn’t think I could catch the leader. Not on this course,” he said after starting the day 10 shots back. “I was hitting it good off the tee and making some putts. I missed only three greens the last two rounds. I saw it on 17 and my stomach just sank. It’s still down there.”
Villegas birdied the closing hole for a 66 and an 18-under total.
The only consolation for the former Florida Gator was a career-best sole fourth-place finish and a check for $38,400 that vaulted him from No. 26 to No. 8 on the money list.
• Manuel Villegas’ previous career best finishes were a solo sixth at the 2010 Moonah Classic in Australia and a T7 at the 2013 Pacific Rubiales Colombia Championship. Villegas was T14 in Colombia a couple weeks ago and T34 at last week’s Chile Classic.
• Florida State All-American Daniel Berger continues his solid start to his rookie season. Berger posted scores of 64-64-71-69—268 to finish at 16-under par and T7. The 20-year old newcomer finished T29/Pacifici Rubiales Colombia Championship and T12/Chile Classic in his first two starts as a Tour member. He moved up from No. 27 to No. 7 on the money list.
• Casey Wittenberg closed with a back nine of 5-under 31 to finish with a 65 and a 17-under 267 total. Wittenberg was a two-time winner in 2012 and the Tour’s Player of the Year after finishing No. 1 on the money list.
• Andrew Putnam posted weekend scores of 66-66 to wind up at 15-under and T9. Putnam was runner-up at the Pacific Rubiales Colombia Championship and T6 at last week’s Chile Classic. He is No. 4 on the money list.
• Adam Hadwin, winner of last week’s Chile Classic posted a 2-over 73 in the final round to finish T65. Hadwin had moved up the leaderboard with a 5-under 30 on the front but then stumbled on the way with a 7-over 43 on the back.
• Low rounds of the day:
64 – Cameron Percy; 65 – Casey Wittenberg
• Players who were bogey-free in a round this week:
R1 – 61 – Jon Curran; 64 – Michael Connell; 65 – Ash Hall, Cliff Kresge, Alex Cejka; 66 – Sung Kang, Shane Bertsch, Jeff Klauk; 67 – Skip Kendall, Steve Friesen; 68 – Camilo Benedetti
R2 – 63 – Andres Echavarria, Brad Schneider; 64 – Daniel Berger, Dawie van der Walt; 66 – Josh Broadaway, Chris Wilson; 67 – Kevin Kim, Aaron Watkins; 68 – Philip Pettitt, Bhavik Patel, Andrew Putnam
R3 – 63 – Alex Cejka; 65 – Casey Wittenberg; 66 – Andrew Putnam, James Nitties; 67 – Oscar Fraustro; 69 – Jose de Jesus Rodriguez
R4 – 64 – Cameron Percy
• There are nine players from Brazil in this week’s field:
- Ronaldo Francisco 66-66-71-73—276 (-8) T41
- Lucas Lee 69-68-67-68—272 (-12) 21
- Fernando Mechereffe 67-69-70-73—279 (-5) T62
- Erik Andersson 73-73—146 (+4) M/C
- Rafael Barcellos 70-71—141 (-1) M/C
- Rafa Becker 71-69—140 (-2) M/C
- Felipe Navarro 71-68—139 (-3) M/C
- Alexandre Rocha 70-70—140 (-2) M/C
- Daniel Stapff 72-72—144 (+2) M/C
• Scoring averages for the week
Front 9 (35) Back 9 (36) Total (71)
R1 33.930 35.503 69.434
R2 34.028 34.965 68.993
R3 34.158 34.882 69.039
R4 34.421 35.776 70.197
Cum. 34.087 35.268 69.355