Daily Wrap-up: Puerto Rico Open, Round 4

March 11, 2012
Staff and wire reports

RIO GRANDE, Puerto Rico -- George McNeill birdied the last three holes for a 3-under 69 to move past Japanese star Ryo Ishikawa and win the Puerto Rico Open presented by seepuertorico.com on Sunday.


Ishikawa, on the anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami that left his homeland in ruins, closed with a 68 and had a one-shot lead. McNeill caught him with a birdie on the 16th, took the lead with a birdie on the 17th and added another birdie on the par-5 18th.

"I was really nervous, but I knew what I had to do, and basically I just had to bear down and get it done," McNeill said. "If not, then somebody else was going to win. I was trying to basically have control of myself, and that's all I was looking for."

McNeill finished at 16-under 272 and earned $630,000 for his second career victory. He won the 2007 Frys.com Open in Las Vegas as a PGA TOUR rookie.

"I think I was a little dumb, for lack of a better word, in 2007," McNeill said. "I really didn't know any better. I've been out here a while now. It's my sixth year, and I've had six second-place finishes and two playoff losses, and seems like, wow, it's getting harder and harder and harder to win."

"Winning is tough at anything. Doesn't matter playing golf, playing tennis, trying to be the best person, smartest person in the class. It's not easy to be the best even if it's only for one week, and that's why it's tough. And you got to take in golf what you can and move on."

The 20-year-old Ishikawa, a nine-time winner on the Japan Golf Tour, had his best PGA TOUR finish.

"I made three birdies in the last four holes, and it was a great experience for me to be very close to the winning experience," Ishikawa said. "It felt like dreaming sometimes. If I get the next chance, I will grab it for sure."

Ishikawa has earned $582,471 on the PGA TOUR this season, surpassing the $411,943 -- No. 150 on the 2011 money list -- needed for special temporary membership. He has 60 days to join the tour as a special temporary member after becoming eligible and then he would be eligible for unlimited sponsor exemptions this season.

"Still thinking," Ishikawa said about accepting the temporary membership. "Need some time to think about it, but that's the direction I'll be aiming for."

Trump International: Sunday
The par-5 2nd hole was the easiest with a Sunday scoring average of 4.616.
The par-4 7th hole was the toughest with a Sunday scoring average of 4.151.
About the winner
• All four winners of the Puerto Rico Open all reside within 130 miles of each other on Florida's Gulf Coast: McNeill (Fort Myers, Fla.), Derek Lamely (Fort Myers, Fla.), Michael Bradley (Valrico, Fla.) and Greg Kraft (Clearwater, Fla.)
• McNeill wins his second career event on TOUR (2007 Frys.com Open)
• McNeill has held three third-round leads/co-leads on TOUR. He went on to win his first third-round lead at the 2007 Frys.com Open. He finished T2 the second time he held the third-round lead at the 2009 Children's Miracle Network Hospitals Classic. And he won this week after holding a one stroke lead entering the final round.
• McNeill made his 145th start on TOUR.
• McNeill ends a streak of four straight players in their 20s winning on TOUR.
• Entering this week, McNeill had six runner-up finishes and no victories since winning the 2007 Frys.com Open in his rookie season.
• McNeill finished 68th in the FedExCup standings last season and played his way into the BMW Championship on the strength of a second-place finish at the Wyndham Championship.
• Last year, McNeill finished fifth in his only other start at the Puerto Rico Open.

Henrik Stenson (71) and Boo Weekley (66) tied for third, three shots behind.