Gonzales closes out wire-to-wire victory
Andres Gonzales jumps to seventh on the money list after his win in Utah
- Andres Gonzales played hole No. 1 at Willow Creek Country Club in 6-under par for the week. (Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
SANDY, Utah—Even a double bogey during his back nine in the final round of the Utah Championship couldn’t derail Andres Gonzales. The Washington native opened with a 62 to take the opening-round lead and never gave it up, taking a start-to-finish victory. Gonzales made things interesting with the double bogey on No. 13 Sunday, a hole that dropped his lead from five shots to three, but in the end, he earned the win, capturing his second Web.com Tour title in the process with a 21-under 263. Gonzales defeated Adam Crawford, Sung Kang and Travis Bertoni by four strokes.
When Gonzales stepped to Willow Creek Country Club’s 18th green Sunday, he finally allowed himself to look at the leaderboard, something he hadn’t done all week. Caddie Brandon DeStefano urged Gonzales to take peek. “I saw I had a four-shot lead, so that kind of gave me goose bumps knowing I could do some stuff on the last green and win.”
There would be no “stuff.” Gonzales hit his tee shot on the par-3 18th above the hole and routinely two-putted. He pumped his fist as the crowd cheered, unaware that he became the only player in Web.com Tour history to go wire-to-wire to win two titles. Gonzales also led after every round of the 2012 Soboba Classic.
“I was a little more nervous here,” Gonzales said, comparing how he felt on the final day at both of his wins. “Soboba was the very beginning of the year. This is kind of getting down to crunch time, where we only have five tournaments left before the Playoffs start.”
Crawford made a valiant run on the final day trying to put pressure on Gonzales. He bogeyed the fourth hole and was even par on his round. He had five bogeys to post a 66, his third consecutive round in the 60s after a 61 Friday and a 69 in the third round.
Hometown favorite Tony Finau birdied four of his first six holes but saw his chances at winning end when he double bogeyed the 14th hole.
“I played pretty nicely on the front (nine) today like I needed to to feel like I could make a move,” Finau explained. “On the back, I was in scoring position on a lot of holes, but I wasn’t able to score. On that backside, I let a few holes get away and couldn’t post something respectable to let Andres look at out there.”
Of course, Gonzales wasn’t looking anyway but is poised for a return trip to the PGA TOUR in 2014-15. Last year, he appeared to have his TOUR card locked up in the Web.com Tour’s final event of the season until Lee Williams drained a 50-foot birdie putt on the final hole to move ahead and send Gonzales back to the Web.com Tour.
“If I was meant to be on the PGA TOUR this year, I would be,” Gonzales added matter-of-factly. “I’ve been asked quite a few times by media if I was angry or upset with the guy who made the 50-foot putt. No, he was trying to do the same thing that I was trying to do, and he made a 50-foot putt on the last hole to get his PGA TOUR card. How awesome is that? I wish I would have made my putt. But what are you going to do? So I said I’ll go back to the Web.com Tour and get ready for next year.”
Gonzales has made the most of his opportunity in 2014, with the Utah Championship victory vaulting him to seventh on the money list, with $201,440 in earnings after he pocketed $112,500 for his week’s work in Utah.
Crawford recorded his first runner-up finish in his Tour career and improved to 58th on the money list. Kang moved to 47th, while Bertoni is now 52nd.
For the week, Andres Gonzales made two eagles, 21 birdies, 46 pars, two bogeys and a double bogey. Gonzales finished at 21 under, a stroke short of the tournament 72-hole record originally set in 2008 by Brendon Todd and matched by J.J. Killeen (2011) and Steven Alker (2013).
Two Monday qualifiers made it to the weekend at the Utah Championship. Paul Peterson shot rounds of 65-71-68-71 and tied for 29th. Kevin Lucas opened with three rounds in the 60s (67-67-69) and fired a 1-over 72 Sunday to match Peterson and tie for 29th. The Utah Championship was the Web.com Tour debuts for both players, who each earned $3,823 for their efforts.
This week, six players established new career Web.com Tour lows:
Player This Week Previous Low (Tournament) Travis Bertoni 63 65, 2010 Mylan Classic Zac Blair 66 67, 2014 Nova Scotia Open Adam Crawford 61 63, 2013 Midwest Classic Andres Gonzales 62 64, 2012 Cox Classic Kevin Lucas 67 Had Never Previously Played Paul Peterson 65 Had Never Previously Played
Brett Stegmaier recorded only his second top-10 of the season. He tied for seventh but stumbled coming in, making back-to-back bogeys on Nos. 17 and 18.
Going back to last year, Will Wilcox, who shot a 59 in the final round of the 2013 Utah Championship, has made 15 consecutive Web.com Tour cuts. Utahn Tony Finau made his 11th consecutive cut with his fifth-place finish this week.
Aaron Goldberg, who had recorded seven consecutive rounds in the 60s at the Utah Championship, appeared ready to keep that streak going until he hit the back nine Sunday. After making the turn at 2-under for the day and 17-under overall, he parred the 10th hole then made four consecutive bogeys on his way to a back-nine, 4-over 40. He tied for 11th.
Bogey-free rounds (32):
First Round (13): Travis Bertoni, Gavin Coles, Derek Fathauer, Andres Gonzales, Jason Gore, Tom Hoge, Sung Kang, Skip Kendall, Justin Lower, Paul Peterson, Martin Piller, Nick Rousey, Steve Wheatcroft
Second Round (15): Blayne Barber, Ryan Blaum, Cam Burke, Max Homa, Mark Hubbard, Kevin Kim, Whee Kim, Colt Knost, Kevin Lucas, Bill Lunde, Alexandre Rocha, Steve Saunders,Vaughn Taylor, Peter Tomasulo, Steve Wheatcroft
Third Round (2): Vince India, Chase Wright
Fourth Round (2): Vaughn Taylor, Martin Piller
Andres Gonzales wins big at the Utah Championship
Andres Gonzales wins big at the Utah Championship