Aussie Jarrod Lyle pulls away and wins Mexico OpenFebruary 03, 2008
Joe Chemycz, PGA TOUR Staff
MORELIA, Mexico -- Australian Jarrod Lyle put together the week's most impressive performance Sunday en route to a 5-stroke win at the Mexico Open. Lyle shot a bogey-free, 8-under-par 63 at the Tres Marias Golf Club to finish at 17-under 267, five better than rookie Matt Every (67) and six in front of Tom Johnson (68).
Lyle's spectacular round was the lowest round of the week and one of only two bogey-free rounds -- the other was a 2-under-par 69 by Steve Pate in Thursday's opener. The victory is the first for the 26-year old and worth $112,500, pushing his season total to $133,350 just two weeks into the 2008 schedule.
"I came out here today to try and win my first tournament ever," said Lyle, who tied for sixth at last week's Panama Movistar Championship.
"Today was by far the best I've played in a long time. I was never out of position. I was never in danger of making a bogey. It was one of those days when everything seemed to come together at the right time. This victory is for my family who has been so supportive of me, I'm just a little sad they're not here to see it."
Lyle and Greg Chalmers (72-276) began the final day tied for the lead at 9-under, with Every and Johnson one back and nobody else within reasonable shouting distance.
"I made a few solid pars to start with, and then something happened," said Lyle, who birdied Nos. 4 and 5 to take the lead before holing a wedge for an eagle-2 at No. 7. "I kind of had the feeling at that point that it was going to be my day. I've had so many seconds and thirds and fourths that something had to snap eventually."
When the final pairing made birdies at both No. 8 and 9, Lyle was 15-under, and Chalmers was 13-under. Johnson and Every, in the next-to-last group, were both at 11-under. The next closest players were at 6-under and jockeying for position, not the win. Lyle turned the front in 6-under 29 and Chalmers in 4-under 31.
"With nine holes to go, I knew it was going to be very hard for them to catch me," he said. "Not because I was ahead, but because of the way I was swinging the club. I hit a lot of great shots, and my putter felt unbelievably good today. I know when it feels that good, I'm going to hole a few putts."
Back-to-back bogeys by Chalmers at Nos. 10 and 11 pushed the lead to four for Lyle, who made six straight pars before a birdie at the par-5 16th hole put him up by five and in command for his first career title.
"I played very sensible on the back nine," said Lyle. "I played for the fatter part of the green on some holes. I figured if I was going to make a mistake, it should be on the side of caution. I knew I didn't want to start making a bunch of bogeys and let anybody back in it."
While Lyle was steady, his countryman Chalmers stumbled, falling out of contention with five bogeys on the back nine and eventually into a tie for 5th. Every and Johnson would stage their own battle, be it for second place.
The clinchers, according to Lyle, were a par at No. 15 and then a birdie at No. 16. "Fifteen is such a hard tee shot for me that I knew that if I could get through there with a par, I'd be fine. It just doesn't set up well for me," he said. "Once I birdied 16, I kind of knew it was right in front of me." Lyle added a birdie at No. 17 and had nothing to do but enjoy the difficult, 530-yard, par-5 closing hole.
"I knew at that point that no matter how hard I might try to screw it up, I couldn't do it," he said with a smile. "I never show much emotion in anything I do, but, at that point, I told myself to just relax and enjoy the moment, to make the make the most of it because it was a long time coming, and you never know when it will come again."
The Nationwide Tour will take a one-week break before heading to New Zealand and Australia for a pair of tournaments starting Feb. 14.
Fourth Round News & Notes: Matt Every's second-place finish was worth $67,500 and moved the former Florida Gator to No. 3 on the money list behind Lyle and last week's winner Scott Dunlap ... Sunday's final-round scoring average was 70.855, the lowest of the four days at the par-71 Jack Nicklaus-designed course ... The scoring average for the week was 72.661 ... Kelly Grunewald shot an even-par 71 thanks to six birdies, six pars and six bogeys.