Champion rewind: Owen
The United Leasing champion posted a 67 early Sunday and watched as his challengers all faltered down the stretch
Greg Owen’s perspective on Sunday took an immediate turn for the worse when he made a triple-bogey 7 on the first hole at Victoria National.
“I told my caddie ‘it’s going to be a long day,’” Owen said. “I just wanted to finish.”
Well, he was right about it being a long day at the United Leasing Championship presented by PTI. He not only had to play golf but also stand for a trophy ceremony, pictures, media obligations.
Yeah, it turned out to be a winning day, perhaps the most improbable on the Web.com Tour this year. Officially, it was a seven-shot final-round comeback, tying the largest such effort on Tour this year.
But the first one was Kris Blanks’ win at the Chitimacha Louisiana Open, where he seized victory with a blazing 62 to get into a playoff.
Owen’s seven-shot deficit lasted as long as it took him to triple bogey the opening par-4, then it was 10 shots. From there, he just wanted to crawl back to even par and salvage something to leave town with. Except he then shot a back-nine 30, signed for 67 to post 9 under and watched tough Victoria National repel everyone else who thought Sunday would be their day.
The final group of 54-hole leader Mark Hubbard, Tony Finau and Andres Echavarria shot 75, 74 and 74. The next-to-last group of Paul Claxton, Matt Weibring and Matt Davidson shot 76, 72 and 78.
Justin Thomas (71) was the only man in the day’s final three threesomes to break par. Owen’s 67 wasn’t just a nice departure-day round, it was the day’s best and ultimately good enough to win.
“I was thinking 10 (under) would be a playoff, and I wasn’t expecting to tee it up again,” said the 42-year-old Englishman, who played in the eighth-to-last group and was still two shots behind when he finished.
“It’s golf, who knows what’s going to happen next.”
This season, Owen hasn’t known what would happen next on his own schedule. The longtime veteran (whose winding career includes graduating from the Web.com Tour in 2008) finished 134th in FedExCup points last year on the PGA TOUR and then on the Web.com Tour Finals failed to land one of 25 cards. That gave him only conditional status on the PGA TOUR, which is a life of checking next week’s fields on Fridays and hoping you’re either in or perhaps first or second alternate.
“You can’t plan for anything. It’s a little stressful, you don’t know if you’re warming up for a tournament or if you’re going to have another week off,” Owen said. “It’s stop-start all the time.”
Owen has been fortunate to get eight PGA TOUR starts, but hasn’t turned any into high finishes. He’s 198th in points. Some schedule gaps were filled with Web.com Tour events, but three prior to this week were missed cut, T4 (South Georgia Classic) and missed cut.
So of course he’d win for the first time this week in Evansville, Indiana. Right.
“I’ve played a lot better this year than I played this week, but didn’t score as well,” Owen said. “It’s the strangest game and it doesn’t make sense most of the time.”
Owen is an alternate for The Greenbrier next week but is taking a sure spot at the new Nova Scotia Open on the Web.com Tour, seeing if he can keep momentum going and climb even higher from his new spot of 13th in money.
He’s been around long enough to know that you never know. Sometimes the longest days turn out to be the best.
ARMOUR ALL: Playing alongside Owen on Sunday was Ryan Armour, who has engineered his own career turnaround of sorts in recent weeks.
The 38-year-old had no status on the Web.com Tour last year, having lost his game in an attempt to find more distance. But he went back to his basics, reclaimed status in the Qualifying Tournament, and in his last three starts has played perhaps the best golf of his career.
The Akron native finished T4 in front of friends and family at the Cleveland Open, then went to Wichita, Kansas, and took T5 at the Air Capital Classic.
On Sunday, he started well off the pace alongside Owen, but shot 68 and soared into a tie for second, in turn moving from No. 23 to No. 12 on the money list.
THE 25: The money list saw an especially volatile week at the United Leasing Championship, with spots 11 through 25 – all spots earning TOUR cards for 2014-15 – all changing hands.
Hubbard failed to hold his 54-hole tournament lead, but a T2 finish vaulted him from No. 20 to 11, closer to securing a TOUR card. Just behind him are now Armour and Owen, which consequently bumped down Jason Gore, Steven Alker and Daniel Berger to Nos. 14-16.
By finishing T4 in Evansville, Tony Finau cracks THE 25 at No. 24, up from No. 37. But that dropped Alex Prugh to No. 25, the cutoff spot. Cameron Percy is now the first man out, having dropped from No. 21 to No. 26.