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Scott Gutschewski wins in playoff at LECOM Suncoast Classic

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Scott Gutschewski wins in playoff at LECOM Suncoast Classic

    Written by Staff @KornFerryTour

    LAKEWOOD RANCH, Florida – Scott Gutschewski drained a 47-foot birdie putt from the fringe as he defeated 23-year-old Logan McAllister, a second-year Korn Ferry Tour member half his age, on the first hole of a sudden-death playoff and won the LECOM Suncoast Classic. At 46 years, 6 months, and 22 days of age, Gutschewski became the 10th-oldest winner in Korn Ferry Tour history (established 1990), in addition to earning his third career Korn Ferry Tour victory.

    Gutschewski’s last victory came at the UNC Health Championship presented by STITCH back on June 8, 2008. The native Nebraskan’s win Sunday marked the second-largest gap between victories in Korn Ferry Tour history at 14 years, 10 months, and 15 days. It was also the second time this season a Korn Ferry Tour winner went 10-plus years between victories, as Ben Kohles won the Astara Chile Classic earlier this month, nearly 11 years after he won the first two starts of his Korn Ferry Tour career back in 2012.

    Charting the Champion (stats updated through tournament)
    CategoryScott Gutschewski
    Age46 (October 1, 1976)
    2023 Korn Ferry Tour Points ListNo. 9
    Korn Ferry Tour Starts – Wins – Top-10s (2023)8-1-1
    Korn Ferry Tour Starts – Wins – Top-10s (Career)241-3-43
    Starts – wins – top-10s at LECOM Suncoast Classic4-1-1

    "It’s awesome, fun, it was a blast,” Gutschewski said. “Just putted out of my mind. Missed a short one on No. 8 today (for par) and yesterday, but other than that I pretty much made everything. I’ve been working hard on my putting. Didn’t keep my (PGA TOUR) card last year and looked at where I was at, and where I needed to improve. I need(ed) to improve my putting.

    “And I got a trainer and said I need to feel better. I’m getting old and I need to feel better on the weekend. It’s not like I’m a gym rat or anything, but I’m just doing some little things to help me feel better on the weekend.

    And it’s been working a little bit this year. I’ve been feeling a little bit better. Doesn’t always show with the finishes, but it’s something you can feel and something you can build on.”

    Largest Gap Between Wins in Korn Ferry Tour History
    WinnerTime Between WinsTournaments
    Tag Ridings18 years, 10 months, 16 days2002 Permian Basin Open/2021 The Ascendant presented by Blue
    Scott Gutschewski14 years, 10 months, 15 days2008 UNC Health Championship presented by STITCH/2023 LECOM Suncoast Classic
    Eric Axley12 years, 11 months, 14 days2005 UNC Health Championship presented by STITCH/2018 North Mississippi Classic
    Omar Uresti12 years, 11 months, 8 days1994 Shreveport Open/2007 Livermore Valley Wine Country Championship
    Skip Kendall12 years, 8 months, 27 days1994 UNC Health Championship presented by STITCH/2007 Chitimacha Louisiana Open

    Gutschewski hung around all week long, making putt after putt. A third-round 9-under 62, Saturday’s low round by two strokes, took Gutschewski from seven strokes off the lead to just one ahead of the final round.

    Playing in Sunday’s final pairing alongside 54-hole leader Kevin Dougherty, Gutschewski went birdie, bogey, birdie across the difficult opening three-hole stretch (they were the three toughest holes of the final round); his birdie at the par-3 third was one of only four made there all day. A birdie at the par-4 fifth was negated by a bogey at the par-4 eighth, where Gutschewski had one of his only mishaps with the putter this week.

    Gutschewski’s final birdies of regulation came at the par-5 10th and par-4 11th on Lakewood Ranch Golf Club’s Commander course, and even as McAllister moved ahead of him with a run of three consecutive birdies at Nos. 10-12, he two-putted for par after par and saved another at the par-4 16th.

    Just enough to hang around.

    Playoff coverage: Scott Gutschewski wins LECOM Suncoast Classic

    “I’m still able to flex my dad powers at times,” said Gutschewski, who frequently plays against his daughter and three sons. The oldest, Luke, is a sophomore on the Iowa State University men’s golf team, while the middle son, Trevor, routinely hits it past his father and won the 2022 Nebraska Junior Amateur Championship. “Trevor told his buddies when I was playing with him, ‘He’ll just kind of hang around and he’ll see where you’re at with a few holes to go and then he’ll start making putts.’ That defeinitely popped into my mind today.”

    McAllister three-putted from 15 feet for bogey at the par-3 13th and scrambled for pars at the par-5 14th and par-4 16th. A two-putt par (statiscially a one-putt, though it was merely a foot off the back of the green) at No. 18 sent McAllister into the scoring area with his own streak of pars (five) and 5-under 66 on the scorecard.

    Gutschewski closed regulation with two-putt pars at the par-3 17th and par-4 18th, capping a run of seven in a row to sign for 3-under 68 and tie McAllister at 21-under par for the tournament.

    As the two met on the 18th tee for the sudden-death playoff, it dawned on Gutschewski it was merely a year ago he followed Luke at the Big 12 Conference Championships, where McAllister finished T6 and helped University of Oklahoma win the team title.

    “These college kids are so good,” Gutschewski said. “They’re so good now, hit it so far that it’s just… it’s been really fun to watch people come up and progress through their career. It’s just fun to be around them and watch how they do their stuff. It’s fun to watch them succeed, it’s interesting to watch them when they don’t and how they handle it. It’s fun.”

    Both Gutschewski and McAllister found the fairway off the tee. Gutschewski’s approach reached the top shelf of the mutli-tiered green, but his yellow ball landed and remained in the left fringe some 47 feet away. McAllister’s approach reached the top level, though it trickled back down the slope and left a lengthy uphill birdie putt.

    Gutschewski had the honors at the green and wasted little time.

    “It looked good the whole way,” Gutschewski said of the putt, which curled in the left side of the cup. “(In practice) that putt is usually to win the Masters or U.S. Open, or to win a putting contest against my kids. It’s hard to put into words, but it’s something you wish everyone could feel.”

    McAllister’s birdie putt came up well short, making Gutschewski the ninth winner of 46-plus years of age in Korn Ferry Tour history, and securing the 11th win in Tour history by a player of 46-plus years of age. The last such winner was Tag Ridings, who captured the 2021 Ascendant presented by Blue title in a playoff at 46 years, 10 months, and 4 days of age.

    Gutschewski also joined David Skinns as the second winner in his 40s this season. The last calendar year featuring multiple winners in their 40s on the Korn Ferry Tour was 2015, when Dicky Pride (WinCo Foods Portland Open), Shane Bertsch (Rust-Oleum Championship), Rod Pampling (BMW Charity Pro-Am presented by TD SYNNEX), and Mathew Goggin (The Panama Championship) all accomplished the feat.

    This week marked the 380th career PGA TOUR-sanctioned start for Gutschewski, who began his collegiate career at Creighton University before he transferred to University of Nebraska and eventually turned professional in 1999.

    The first of Gutschewski’s 241 Korn Ferry Tour starts came back in 2000 at his hometown event, the Omaha Classic. Since then, he graduated from the Korn Ferry Tour (multiple times), lost his PGA TOUR card (multiple times), and battled an array of injuries, including a foot injury which required surgery in 2017 and sidelined him for nearly all of 2018.

    Neither injuries, nor losing PGA TOUR status was the most difficult part of the journey back to the winner’s circle for Gutschewski, though.

    “The toughest part is just my kids are so busy now, and there’s so much… it’s so much fun to watch them,” Gutschewski said. “It’s so much fun to watch them because it’s something that I can kind of help them with a little bit. I don’t have a lot of skills otherwise, but I can help them a little bit with golf.

    “Unless I’m out here doing really well, I’d rather be watching them.”

    Well, kids, dad is still playing alright. In fact, Gutschewski’s latest win moved him to fourth on the Korn Ferry Tour’s career money list.

    Korn Ferry Tour Career Money List Leaders
    PlayerCareer Money
    Darron Stiles$2,121,641
    Kyle Thompson$1,890,864
    Paul Claxton$1,802,290
    Scott Gutschewski$1,761,873
    Jason Gore$1,745,845
    Jeff Gove$1,702, 910

    The winner’s check this week ($180,000) is also a little larger than the ones Gutschewski cashed for victories at the 2003 Monterey Peninsula Classic and 2008 UNC Health Championship presented by STITCH.

    “I actually celebrated that week with Zach and Kim Johnson after I won. We drove to San Jose and went out to dinner,” said Gutschewski, noting the 2003 win also fell on the week of his 27th birthday. “That was a long time ago, right?

    “They’re so far apart, such a different place in my life. I’m at a weird age, right? You want to keep playing, you maybe want to give the (PGA TOUR) Champions a shot but, at the same time, those guys are really good, too. It’s not like you can go anywhere and it’s a bunch of pushovers. I really enjoy it. I really enjoy playing. I feel like I can still be competitive, and I guess that’s why I haven’t hung ‘em up. If I told you I hadn’t thought about it, that would be a bald-faced lie.”

    Gutschewski will once again be in the mix for a PGA TOUR card, as he moved to No. 9 on the 2023 Korn Ferry Tour Points List. He last graduated via the 2021 Korn Ferry Tour Finals, and was relegated after a No. 158 finish on the 2021-22 FedExCup Playoffs and Eligibilty Points List.

    “I’ve done this before. I kind of have a history,” Gutschewski said. “The last time I won in 2008, Luke, my oldest, was 5 or 6, and he told the ladies at daycare, ‘We won’t be back next year, but we’ll be back the year after that.’ I kind of have a history of going back and forth. The goals for the year are always to move up to the other tour. I just keep trying.

    “It’s kind of our nature to keep beating your head against the wall, and you hope the wall breaks first.”

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