Niebrugge picks up first professional victory
Earns two-shot victory at Freedom 55 Financial Open
June 04, 2018
By Staff, PGATOUR.COM
- June 04, 2018
- Jordan Niebrugge earned the hardware in Vancouver. (Chuck Russell/Mackenzie Tour)
VANCOUVER, British Columbia— Jordan Niebrugge putt the lights out this week at the Freedom 55 Financial Open at Point Grey Golf and Country Club. That was fitting since, while growing up, that was the only club the Bridgeton, Mo., golfer had in his bag.
At age 3, Niebrugge didn’t receive a wedge from his dad until he could prove he was able to two-putt on the green, and after that he didn’t own a long iron until he could get up and down from anywhere around the putting surface.
Progressive thinking, learning the game backward.
Twenty-one years later, with his parents beaming from outside the ropes, Niebrugge tapped in for par on the 72nd hole to win his first professional tournament, shooting rounds of 68-66-68-72 to win by two strokes.
Niebrugge went into the final round in a unique position, up five strokes on the field with the finish line just 18 holes away.
“I knew I was playing great golf, and I knew if I took care of what I needed to, I’d be standing here at the end, and for the most part I was able to do that,” said Niebrugge, who towers over most at 6 feet 4 inches.
“I guess that’s why you build a big enough lead, so you don’t have to make all the putts coming in.”
Niebrugge built his lead on a two-and-a-half-round stretch of bogey-free golf from the second round until the final round’s ninth hole. It was the back nine Saturday, when Chris Williams and Zach Wright faltered, that Niebrugge made his biggest move, shooting 33 to head into Sunday at 16-under.
Based on his scores the first three days, while Niebrugge may not have been sniffing the roses on Sunday, he was able to do what he does best, not overthink the game and take advantage of opportunities when they presented themselves.
For the fourth consecutive day, Niebrugge birdied the first hole to boost his confidence. Another on the third helped last year’s runner up at this event make the turn in 35 strokes. From there, not even a couple of closing bogeys on 16 and 17 could prevent Niebrugge from lifting the trophy.
“I like the golf course, it’s right in front of you,” said Niebrugge. “I hit a lot of 3-irons off the tee and had a lot of wedges and 9-irons in. I knew I was hitting it great going into the green, so I just had to get those chances.”
Niebrugge elected to defer Monday’s opportunity to qualify for the U.S. Open in order to prepare for the Web.com Tour’s Rust-Oleum Championship taking place next week in Mundelein, Ill.
Meanwhile, Riley Wheeldon of nearby Richmond, British Columbia, shot his third 70 of the week to tie for 10th and win the year’s first Canadian Player of the Week Award.
• Benjamin Griffin had a Mackenzie Tour debut to remember this week. After making the cut on the number, the recent University of North Carolina graduate followed a Saturday 68 with seven birdies and an eagle Sunday for a 63, tying Zach Wright for lowest round of the week at Point Grey.
• Michael Gellerman also made his way up the leaderboard Sunday. The 25-year-old birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 64 and finish sixth.
• The three-man Aussie contingent can hold their collective heads high after the first week of the season. Brett Coletta (tied for 17th), Ruben Sondjaja (tied for 23rd) and Lucas Herbert (tied for 49th) will all be cashing checks this week.
• Cody Blick fought back nicely from his third-round 75, eagling his first hole and making a single bogey, returning to his B.C.-loving ways with a final-round 67.
• Chris Williams’ red-hot putter deserted him on the weekend. After owning a share of the lead going into the weekend, Williams was unable to drop a single birdie Sunday as he shot his second consecutive 73 to tie for seventh.
• You may remember Jordan Niebrugge from the 2015 Open Championship, where, as an amateur, he was able to beat Adam Scott, Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler on his way to a tie for sixth.
• Jordan Niebrugge finished last season in ninth place on the year-end Mackenzie Tour Order of Merit.
“I talked to Coach (Alan Bratton from recent NCAA-winning Oklahoma State) a little bit. He was busy this past week with everything. It was cool to see them compete, and after all they did this year getting 10 wins and having a TV show about them and just getting to play the national championship on the home course. It was a lot of pressure for them, and for them to be able to get it done says a lot. He gave me a little bit of motivation this week to close it out at the end.” – Jordan Niebrugge, on his Oklahoma State roots
“It’s great to get into four-round tournaments. That’s where I feel I’m at my best, just putting four good rounds together. I was able to do that this week, and going forward going to Illinois next week for the Web.com (Tour) event is just a really good opportunity for me to get going on the Web.” – Jordan Niebrugge
“I didn’t know what to expect when I got here. It’s obviously the first event, getting the season going. Now we have three more weeks in a row here. That’s my plan, to keep playing. – Zach Wright
“I played good golf. I just had a couple of loose ones off the tee that hurt me. It was just hitting fairways and doing a few different things. I played well. I hit it well, I putted well, I did everything well.” – Zach Wright
“The one bogey was a bit of a system shock. I eagled the first hole after a good drive, good 3-wood, good putt. I was really feeling pretty solid. It was a shock to the system on (No. 2) there. But I hung in there.” – Cody Blick
“I’m excited. Just being up here in Canada is great. I love being up here in the summer, and Victoria next week is going to be fun.” – Cody Blick
Final-Round Weather: Overcast and cool, with a high of 12. Wind N at 7 kph.