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Trevor Werbylo wins inaugural Lake Charles Championship with back-to-back playoff birdies

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Trevor Werbylo wins inaugural Lake Charles Championship with back-to-back playoff birdies

    Written by Hagan Parkman @KornFerryTour

    Trevor Werbylo’s interview after winning the Lake Charles Championship

    LAKE CHARLES, Louisiana – Trevor Werbylo birdied the last two holes of regulation, watched from the clubhouse as 54-hole leader Seonghyeon Kim accomplished the same feat and forced a playoff, but ultimately prevailed with a birdie on the third playoff hole of the inaugural Lake Charles Championship.

    Werbylo began the day at 10-under par, five strokes behind Kim. The 23-year-old Tucson, Arizona native erased the deficit with an 8-under 63, the best final round in the field by two strokes, reaching 18-under par for the week.

    The third playoff hole was the drivable 304-yard par-4 first. Werbylo’s drive ended up just off the left side of the green, while Kim found the greenside bunker. Werbylo left his chip 18 feet short of the hole, forcing him to play before Kim, who had roughly a 10-footer for birdie.

    Werbylo poured it over the center of the cup, while Kim’s attempt grazed the edge and stayed out.

    “I don't know if it totally has sunken in yet, but it's so special,” Werbylo said. “To play this well and to win any tournament is huge, but to win on the Korn Ferry Tour, the implications of it are huge. It's very satisfying.”

    Werbylo birdied his first three holes Sunday, and later recorded back-to-back birdies at Nos. 9 and 10, as well as Nos. 13 and 14. A “sloppy” bogey at the par-3 16th dropped Werbylo to 16-under par, but a 30-footer for birdie at No. 17 negated the miscue. Werbylo stuck his approach just inside 10 feet at the downwind 398-yard par-4 18th and drained his ninth birdie of the round.

    Both Werbylo and Kim missed makeable birdie putts on the first playoff hole, sending them back to No. 18 tee for another go. Werbylo put his drive behind the grandstands the second time around, but he was fortunate to have a stance and relatively clean lie.

    “I knew it actually wasn't that bad over there,” Werbylo said. “You're chipping back into the wind, I had green to work with. There was stuff I had to go over and there wasn't a great view of where I was hitting to, but I knew I was okay. It looked bad, but honestly, I thought I could get closer than I did.”

    Werbylo’s shot from the bushes stopped in the fringe just under 20 feet from the hole. With Kim roughly 12 feet from the hole, Werbylo was first to play. Both made their birdie putts and extended the playoff.

    “You’ve got to expect your opponent to play great. I expected him to make a couple birdies, and he did,” Werbylo said. “He had a putt, like a 6‑ or 7‑footer, on the first (playoff) hole and I couldn't control that. To that point, yeah, there's part of me that's like, it's over. To then make a couple birdies in the playoff, make some putts, it was… I was putting it well. I just felt confident over every putt I hit the last couple holes, including the playoff.

    “Making that putt was huge and I gained momentum,” Werbylo said of the second playoff hole. “Standing over the putt on the third (playoff) hole, it definitely gave me more confidence. I looked at it and felt like I could put a good stroke on it, and saw it rolling right in the center.”

    The victory offered a bit of redemption for Werbylo, who led much of the final round at last week’s Chitimacha Louisiana Open presented by MISTRAS but made a costly double bogey with six holes remaining, then missed a par save on the 72nd hole and wound up one stroke out of a playoff.

    “Last week was disappointing just the way I finished the tournament, but it was still a good week,” Werbylo said. “If you're putting yourself there enough, you're going to win some tournaments, and fortunately I was able to and played great this weekend. It's nice to bounce back this quickly and get a victory. It's been a fun couple weeks.”

    Werbylo played collegiately at the University of Arizona and made his way to the Korn Ferry Tour via the newly-established PGA TOUR University presented by Velocity Global. The mission of PGA TOUR University is to elevate the path to the PGA TOUR for college golf’s top seniors. It also incentivizes players to stay in school longer and continue to work toward a degree.

    The top-five players in the inaugural PGA TOUR University Class of 2021 earned Korn Ferry Tour status and an exemption into Final Stage of the Korn Ferry Tour Qualifying Tournament. Players who finished Nos. 6-15 earned PGA TOUR Canada status and an exemption into Second Stage of the Korn Ferry Tour Qualifying Tournament. Werbylo, who garnered 2021 All-Pac-12 First Team recognition and led Arizona to team title at the 2021 Pac-12 Championships (the program’s first title since 2004), finished No. 9 in the inaugural class.

    In his first PGA TOUR Canada start last June, Werbylo lost in a playoff. Four starts later, Werbylo won The Fuzz Zoeller Classic at Covered Bridge. The strength of those two results, along with a T6 and another top-25, propelled Werbylo to No. 1 in the Order of Merit, granting him fully exempt status for the 2022 Korn Ferry Tour season and enabling him to skip the Korn Ferry Tour Qualifying Tournament altogether.

    “I owe a lot to that system,” Werbylo said. “I think it only makes sense because every other sport, you play great in college and you have a path to professional sports. Now that golf is doing that, it's phenomenal.”

    With the win, Werbylo moves to No. 3 on the Korn Ferry Tour Regular Season Points List, 37 points behind Brandon Matthews, and 55 points behind Carl Yuan.

    The 2022 Korn Ferry Tour season continues Thursday, March 31 with the first round of the Club Car Championship at The Landings Club in Savannah, Georgia, with the event being contested on The Landings Club’s Deer Creek course.

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