Takeaways: Bryan's career shot leads to 3-win promotion
Poston, Murray fall short in playoff; late miss haunts Sloan; Fischer surges on Sunday
August 07, 2016
By Adam Stanley, PGATOUR.COM
- Wesley Bryan won the Digital Ally Open after his wife Elizabeth flew in for the final round. (Mark Higgins/Contributed Photo)
OVERLAND PARK, Kan. – It took two extra holes, but Wesley Bryan is PGA TOUR-bound, thanks to his playoff victory at the Digital Ally Open at the Nicklaus Golf Club at LionsGate.
His third win of the season came after he hit, what he called, the shot of his life, on the par-3 17th. After he, J.T. Poston and Grayson Murray all made birdies on the par-4 18th, they retreated to the 17th for what turned out to be the final time. Murray missed his chip long, and Poston left his putt short. That set the stage for Bryan, who had left himself about 2 feet for the win.
There was never a doubt.
“I couldn’t believe that I had won another golf tournament,” he admitted Sunday. “One is just crazy to think about, two is even crazier, and to think I’ve won three times out here and got the promotion. Coming into this year, that wasn’t even in the realm of possibility.”
12th caddie of the year. Third win. Quite a ride for Wesley Bryan. pic.twitter.com/XJQMGZk3D8— Web.com Tour (@WebDotComTour) August 7, 2016
Bryan shot 65-67-65-67, and while his playing partners were one shot lower than he on this Sunday, to the victor go the spoils.
“I’ve been in this position a lot this year and those guys, it’s their first year out here. It’s my first year out here too, but I’ve had a few more chances to win,” he explained. “Maybe I had more experience to draw on. I didn’t let anything rattle me. I stayed patient and stuck to my game plan.”
Bryan said he was gunning for The 25 as he entered the year, after playing “mediocre” golf on mini-tours and traveling with his brother, George, doing trick shots. Although he wasn’t devoting enough time to practicing and playing tournaments, he knew that was paying the bills.
When you realize you're headed to the PGA TOUR ... pic.twitter.com/tWNdfM5BFm— Web.com Tour (@WebDotComTour) August 7, 2016
He managed to stay within himself on a day when it could have been easy to be distracted – he witnessed a hole-in-one, he was in a playoff, and of course, there was the looming promotion to the PGA TOUR to think about – and stuck with his game plan, even when he found himself three shots back of the lead.
And as far as any changes from 2015 to 2016, he said he’s just become more consistent with his routine.
“I’ve got my deal that I do, and I’m going to do it every single day,” he said. “I’m doing the same thing over and over again. I’m getting good results right now. So I guess if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.”
Wesley Bryan birdies the second playoff hole, his third win of the season. pic.twitter.com/ht7rAFvKK9— Web.com Tour (@WebDotComTour) August 7, 2016
Wesley Bryan’s wife Elizabeth arrived late Saturday night in hopes she might see some history Sunday. And after Bryan nailed the winning putt, he looked up to the sky while she let out an excited scream. She ran across the 17th green to her elated husband, and into his arms.
“I really felt like I had a peace about today,” said Elizabeth, who has been married to Wesley since 2012, even though they’ve known each other since they were four. “When he got off to the birdie-birdie start, I felt great.”
Elizabeth said that after Grayson Murray made his hole-in-one – and Wesley made a bogey – she was tried to rediscover that earlier peaceful state.
However, once he hit it so close on the second playoff hole, she knew something great was about to happen.
“It was super special,” she said. This was the second victory of the year she got to witness in person (she was on-site at the Chitimacha Louisiana Open as well).
Elizabeth is studying for her Physician Assistant exams that are taking place at the end of August, and has been hitting the books for 14 hours per day. On her flight from Augusta, Georgia to Kansas City, she was studying the whole time.
“I can take this little break,” she admitted with a big smile.
Grayson Murray’s final round was going along kind of like his 2016 season: nothing spectacular, but nothing horrible either.
He made a birdie on the par-4 seventh, which got him a little closer to the lead at the time.
And then it was time for fireworks.
Murray stepped on the tee on the par-3 eighth, a 231-yarder, and made a hole-in-one, winning him a brand new car in the process.
“That was pretty neat. It went right at the flag, just kept rolling up to the green and into the hole,” he said. “It was pretty cool.”
Murray made four birdies on his back nine – offset by two bogeys – and fell to Bryan in the playoff. Still, his T2 finish was his best of the year.
“It was a big week for me,” he stated. “It got me closer to The 25, which is what we’re all chasing.”
Murray’s finish actually gets him to 24th on the money list, inside The 25 for the first time in 2016.
Win a car, jump on said car. 🚘 pic.twitter.com/56PbzH7USV— Web.com Tour (@WebDotComTour) August 7, 2016
J.T. Poston had been in the final group earlier this year, and after stuffing his approach on the first playoff hole, it looked like he was about to notch his first career Web.com Tour victory.
It was not to be on this day, but Poston, 23, catapulted himself to 11th on the money list and is on the cusp of the PGA TOUR for next year.
Not bad for someone who started the year without any status.
“In March I was looking at playing mini-tours all year, with a couple Monday qualifiers, but I didn’t really have a place to play. I got into one (Web.com Tour event), played well, earned status, then continued to play well,” he said. “It was such a whirlwind to go from really wanting to be out here to now being out on the big TOUR next year.”
“I wouldn’t want it any other way though,” he continued, “My game has been on another level. It’s been fun.”
Poston locked up his third top-three finish of the season this week, and said despite not winning, it was a big week for his confidence.
“I hit a lot of good shots under the gun,” he admitted. “The nerves were really kicking the last five holes or so. Definitely a lot of positives from this week, and I would have loved to have gotten a win and locked it up, but Wesley played great all day.”
Stoic but superb.— Web.com Tour (@WebDotComTour) August 8, 2016
After entering the season with no status, J.T. Poston is headed to the PGA TOUR. 👍 pic.twitter.com/Lrf7jGCTKs
Despite, what he called, the “worst putt of (his) life” on the 72nd hole, Roger Sloan left the Digital Ally Open with his best finish of the year.
The Canadian came to the 18th hole tied for the lead, but landed in a fairway bunker off the tee. His approach caught the lip and he ended up in the rough adjacent to the sand. He hit a tight approach to 4 feet, but missed his putt that would have put him in the playoff.
“I’ve been struggling with fairway bunkers,” he admitted. “I hit it thin, but hit a great recovery shot. I made a lot of good putts this week, so we’ll focus on those.”
“I was really pleased with how I played this week overall, and I can (continue) that momentum into the four Finals events,” continued Sloan.
The one-time Web.com Tour winner will be off next week as he and his wife, Casey, celebrate their wedding anniversary in Boston. They are going to attend a Red Sox game at Fenway Park – a bucket list item for Sloan.
“I’m excited to see Big Papi (David Ortiz) and hopefully the Sox can beat those Yankees,” said Sloan with a smile.
Roger Sloan had this to post -20. Just slides by. The final group approaches 18... pic.twitter.com/bcgYFv5rAZ— Web.com Tour (@WebDotComTour) August 7, 2016
Zack Fischer didn’t end up winning Sunday at the Digital Ally Open, but he did shoot his lowest ever round in competition, an 8-under-par 63. After missing seven straight cuts earlier this year, he’s happy with his best finish of the year.
“I don’t even know how to explain it,” he said of his final round. “I made a double bogey in my second round, and I just thought, ‘I don’t want to worry about it anymore; just let it go.’ All of a sudden I started making birdies. There was no pressure. It was so much fun.
Since Fischer’s streak of missed cuts, he actually bounced back to make eight of his next nine. He was 99th on the money list going into this week, but his tie for fourth moved him to 66th and inside the top-75 number that would secure status in the Finals.
“I’ve been doing a lot of good stuff, but just having one bad round. To put four rounds together feels really good,” he explained. “To have it happen at the end of the season feels even better, going into the Finals with a lot of momentum. It feels really good to have a good finish.
Fischer compared his round Sunday to when he won the 2013 Web.com Tour Qualifying Tournament tournament, where he played free-flowing golf.
“I was just not worrying about anything. Literally, there was no pressure,” he explained. “I hope I can just keep it going the rest of the year.”