Rafael Campos battles wind for first win in the Bahamas
January 23, 2019
By Preston Smith , PGATOUR.COM
- January 23, 2019
Rafael Campos earns first professional victory at Great Abaco
GREAT ABACO, Bahamas — In his 63rd career start on the Web.com Tour, Rafael Campos broke through with his first victory on Wednesday at The Bahamas Great Abaco Classic at The Abaco Club. Campos posted a final-round 2-under 70 to finish at 7-under 281, becoming the first Puerto Rican to win on the Web.com Tour in the process.
“I got really emotional coming off the green,” Campos said. “My caddy told me to take my time on that eight-inch putt at the end and I didn’t know why. And then when I made it I thought to myself, ‘Okay, had a good week,’ but the cheer from the crowd was so loud and I looked over at the leaderboard and saw that I was on top … it’s just really emotional.”
Campos had a unique connection with The Abaco Club even before he teed it up this week. Head professional Brian Shaver and the president of Southworth Golf, Greg Sherwood, knew Campos from his youth. Sherwood in particular told a story during the Awards Ceremony of Campos being at the golf course at sunrise as a kid in Puerto Rico.
“First win as a professional, that can’t be beat,” Campos said. “It’s so special to do it here on the island of Abaco, with Brian Shaver and Greg Sherwood watching that have been with me since I was little. It truly is priceless; it was meant to be.”
Campos tied for the lead with only 10 bogeys or worse through the extent of the tournament, compared to 20 birdies. He carded a bogey-free 33 on the back nine on Wednesday, with multiple par saves in windy conditions. He cited his birdie at the 10th as the time he knew it could be his day.
“On my walk from the green to the next tee [on 10], I knew I had eight holes to go if I could just play those eight holes consistently,” Campos said. “This back nine has killed me at times, and I just wanted to put the ball in play. When I was walking, I knew it could be a special day. I don’t know what it was, but the next three holes or so I felt more and more calm. I thought it could be my week if I kept working in the wind. I felt it was meant to be. Even when I had bad shots, it worked out today."
After entering the final round three shots back to three co-leaders, Campos’ 2-under 70 was enough on a day when the scoring average was 74.646. Campos’ got emotional when thinking about the celebration going on in his home of Puerto Rico.
“This first win means a lot,” Campos said. “For me, for Puerto Rico, for the kids to understand that I’m a kid from the island that worked my butt off and won a tournament. I hope this serves as motivation because we have great talent there. I hope in the future to see many players on the PGA TOUR and the Web.com Tour from Puerto Rico. My phone hasn’t stopped vibrating in my pocket since the putt dropped, I know they are celebrating back home.”
Rookie Vincent Whaley had a birdie putt at the 18th to tie Campos, but it stayed right as the 23-year-old fell one shot short at 6-under 282. Whaley’s runner-up came in just his second career Web.com Tour start. Journeyman Paul Imondi posted a 2-under 70 – including a back-nine 34 – to finish solo third at 5-under 283.
- Wednesday’s weather: Partly cloudy and windy, high of 76, winds E/SE at 18-26 miles per hour, with gusts up to 38 miles per hour.
- This week’s purse is $600,000, with $108,000 going to the champion, Rafael Campos. With the win, Campos earns 500 points in the new Web.com Tour points system and a lifetime honorary membership to The Abaco Club.
- Forty-one former Web.com Tour champions competed in the field in the field, amounting to 56 victories, as well as nine PGA TOUR champions (equaling 21 victories).
- Each of the past two champions of the tournament went on to earn their PGA TOUR card for the following season (Andrew Landry, Adam Svensson). Svensson set the tournament record in 2018 at 17-under 271.
- The Wednesday scoring average of 74.646 is the highest final-round scoring average since the final round of the 2017 United Leasing & Finance Championship (76.029).
- Sponsor’s exemption Wade Binfield shot even-par 72 in the final round to finish T9. With the top-25 finish, Binfield earns another start next week at the Country Club de Bogota Championship.
- There were only seven rounds under par during the final round, after only six rounds under par in the third round for a total of 13 over the final two days. Justin Lower had the best final-round score with a 3-under 69. The other players under par on Wednesday included Campos (-2), Imondi (-2), Steven Alker (-2), Michael Gligic (-1), Matthew NeSmith (-1) and Todd Baek (-1).
- Rookie Scottie Scheffler, who won low amateur honors at the 2017 U.S. Open, finished solo seventh at 3-under 285, his best finish on the Web.com Tour. Scheffler eagled the first hole on Wednesday, one of two eagles there during the final round.
- The par-4 ninth hole (425 yards) ranked as the toughest hole on the course on Wednesday with a scoring average of 4.492. The 11th hole played as the toughest at The Abaco Club and the ninth-toughest all year on Tour last year.
- The par-5 first hole (560 yards) ranked as the easiest hole on Wednesday. The hole played to an average of 4.338.