Putnam wins Panama Claro Championship in playoff
February 19, 2017
By Royce Thompson, PGATOUR.COM
- Andrew Putnam defeated Chris Baker with a birdie on the first playoff hole at Panama GC. (Becky Baker/Contributed Photo)
PANAMA CITY, Panama – Andrew Putnam birdied the first hole of sudden death to win the Panama Claro Championship in a playoff over Chris Baker. Putnam, who earned his second career Web.com Tour victory, collected a check for $112,500 and moved into the top spot on the money list.
At the end of regulation, the duo was tied at 13-under-par 267 and headed back to the tee on the par-4 18th hole. Both players hit their drives in the fairway, with Baker getting first crack at the second shot. The 30-year-old from Seymour, Indiana hit his approach onto the top tier, where the flag was located, but it rolled down the ledge about 30 feet away.
Putnam’s second was right of the pin, barely made it onto the green and settled 12 feet from the hole. Baker was up first, missed his putt and was left with 2 feet for par. Putnam stepped up and drained the birdie bid for the win.
“I’ve played this hole probably 15 to 20 times in my career so I know what to do,” said Putnam, whose first birdie on 18 this week came in the playoff. “The second shot wasn’t the easiest with the ball below my feet. I told Brando (my caddie) that I felt like it was going to squirt right a little bit. I kind of got lucky that it grabbed part of the green and I made a pretty good putt.”
Sunday marked the first-time Putnam entered the final round with a 54-hole lead. In 2014, Putnam held a seven-stroke advantage after 54 holes of the WNB Golf Classic, when high wind in West Texas forced the cancellation of Sunday’s final round. Putnam had distanced himself from the field with an 8-under 64 in Saturday’s third round and didn’t get the opportunity to close out the tournament in typical fashion.
Putnam did not allow the grind of the final round to wear on him on Sunday in Panama City. Even when he bogeyed the par-3 sixth hole, he bounced back with a birdie on the seventh. For someone truly playing with the 54-hole lead for the first time in his professional career, Putnam turned in a gutsy performance.
“I didn’t really feel too much pressure,” said Putnam, who tried to avoid every scoreboard on the course. “I knew I was playing solid and I didn’t make any mistakes. I’m good friends with some of the guys in front of us so we were trying to have fun. Brando just kept telling me jokes to keep me loose.”
Top Shot: Andrew Putnam birdies to win Panama Claro
Baker did his best to take the trophy from Putnam on the back nine. The former Iowa State Cyclone carded one of two bogey-free rounds on Sunday and made a 6-foot putt on No. 16 to take the outright lead.
Putnam, playing behind Baker, drained a 20-footer on the par-4 after getting a read from playing partner Mark Anderson. At the time, Putnam didn’t know where he stood in the tournament. The Pepperdine University alum doesn’t like to look at leaderboards while he is playing and needed to ask his caddie, Brandon, where he finished in the scoring tent after he made par on the 72nd hole.
“I knew that was big,” said Putnam, who glanced at a scoreboard on his way up to the green. “I thought I saw my name in second so I knew I was probably chasing but wasn’t quite sure. Mark hit his ball next to mine and it kind of felt like fate.”
After making a clutch 3 on the first extra hole, Putnam was greeted by his girlfriend Tawny. She had a feeling Putnam was going to close strong and flew all day to get to Panama City to surprise him.
“That is unreal, she is so sporadic,” said Putnam, who was still in shock his girlfriend was standing in front of him. “I guess I just had no idea she would ever do that. That’s awesome for me to make the winning putt and for her to fly down here not knowing if I was going to win.”
Andrew Putnam interview after winning Panama Claro
* This week’s purse is $625,000 with $112,500 going to winner Andrew Putnam.
* In four appearances at the Panama Claro Championship, Andrew Putnam has finished T39 (2013), T15 (2014), T27 (2016) and 1 (2017).
* Putnam’s win comes at age 28 years, 25 days.
* Putnam holds the top spot on the money list for the first time in his career. In 2014, he was No. 2 on the money for a combined 17 weeks.
Putnam’s second career win comes in his 77th career Tour start.
* It had been 2 years, 9 months and 23 days since Putnam’s victory in Midland, Texas.
* Chris Baker moved up to No. 6 on the money list with his runner-up performance in Panama. His previous best was a T3 at the 2015 Digital Ally Open.
* Baker had played four full seasons on Tour entering this year. Last season was the first time he retained his Tour card. In 20 starts, he made 15 cuts and posted four top-10s. He made $134,289 and ended the year No. 34 on the money list.
* Baker carded one of two bogey-free rounds on Sunday.
* Roberto Diaz secured the exemption into the World Golf Championships – Mexico Championship by finishing this week as the top-ranked Mexican player in the world. Diaz will be making his fourth appearance in a PGA TOUR event when he competes in Mexico City.
R1 – Beau Hossler (64), Mark Anderson (66), Chris Baker (66).
R2 – none.
R3 – Abraham Ancer (67).
R4 – Chris Baker (66), Jonathan Byrd (66).