Crouch comes from behind, claims medalist honors at Weston Hills
January 10, 2020
By Communications, PGATOURLA.COM
- January 10, 2020
- As a Qualifying Tournament medalist, A.J. Crouch will have full exempt status for the 2020 PGA TOUR Latinoamérica season. (Media/PGA TOUR)
WESTON, Florida—University of Florida alum A.J. Crouch fired a bogey-free, 4-under 68 in tough, windy conditions to come from behind and claim medalist honors at the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica Qualifying Tournament at The Club at Weston Hills. Trailing by two shots with 18 holes to play, Crouch finished the week at 10-under 278 for a two-shot win over fellow American Piri Borja, who posted a 69. As tournament medalist, Crouch earned exempt status for the entire 2020 PGA TOUR Latinoamérica season.
Outright leader through 54 holes, Brad Schneider of Brandon, Fla., carded a 73 to finish three off the pace, in solo third. Conner Godsey, of Jacksonville Beach, Fla., shot 69 to join Linus Lilliedahl of Sandviken, Sweden, who posted a 70, in a tie for fourth at 6-under. A stroke back, Puerto Rico’s Edward Figueroa, shot 70 to be joined by Americans Tom Nettles (70) and Colin Monagle (73) in a tie for sixth.
University of Connecticut alum Chris Wiatr shot 73 to finish solo ninth, with Josh Lee (70), Chris Korte (72) and Michael VanDenter (72) tying for 10th to complete the group of players spread between the second-and-12th place who secured exempt status for the events set for the first half of the season.
The following 25 players, spread between a tie for 13th and a tie for 35th, earned conditional status for the first half of the season.
“I knew it was going to be tough, so I just came out and tried to make as many pars as I could and take the birdies when they came. Ultimately that’s what did it because at no point was I thinking about winning until I got on the last green safely,” said Crouch, who survived the strong wind without a blemish on his scorecard.
The 26-year old from Jacksonville, Fla., followed a birdie at the first with a string of 10 pars. Then, he put together a critical run of birdie-birdie-par-birdie between holes 12 and 15 that locked up the win.
His thoughts about the windy conditions at The Club at Weston Hills? “It’s just survival man. If you have to make a bogey, make a bogey. I just tried to hit the center of every green, and luckily I was putting really well. I just had a lot of good par saves with the putter, and I just tried to hit as many greens as I could,” added Crouch.
After going birdie-birdie-eagle from Nos. 10 to 12 to get to 7-under for the day, Borja moved to 12-under for the tournament and seemed to be on his way to victory.
“Everything was dropping, I was hitting great shots, but I had a little hiccup on 15. [Officials] moved the tee boxes around, and I didn’t get a good enough line where I wanted to hit it and I ended up hitting it in the water and made a bad score there,” Borja said about a triple bogey he followed with a bogey at the last to lose his grasp of the lead.As runner-up at this Qualifying Tournament, Piri Borja secured PGA TOUR Latinoamérica status for the fourth consecutive year. (Enrique Berardi/PGA TOUR)
Did you know A.J. Crouch had one collegiate win while at the University of Florida? He won the 2014 FGCU Classic hosted by Florida Gulf Coast University in Estero, Fla., finishing the 54-hole event at 2-under. As a Gator he was also named to the All-Southeastern Conference Academic Honor Roll for four straight years (2014-17).
What a difference a year makes. A year ago, A.J. Crouch finished the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica Qualifying Tournament at Mission Inn in Howey-in-the-Hills in a tie for the 87th spot. He posted rounds of 76-82-75-76 at the El Campeón Course to finish at 21-over.
A.J. Crouch recorded the only bogey-free round of the day for a 4-under 68 that also happened to be the round’s low. Fellow American Matthew Naumec was the only other player to shoot 68 Friday. Entering the final day tied for 48th, Naumec managed to a tie for 26th, easily inside the group of players who made the top 35 to secure conditional status for the season.
Tied for the sixth spot, at 5-under 283, Edward Figueroa finished this event as leading Latin American. The Puerto Rican has plenty of experience, having played a combined 54 events on PGA TOUR-affiliate Tours: PGA TOUR (four), Korn Ferry Tour (one), PGA TOUR Latinoamérica (29) and the Mackenzie Tour (20) since turning pro in 2015.
The Arrazola brothers, Juan Pablo and Edgardo from Colombia, were the only other Latin Americans playing this event. They finished in a tie for 81st, at 19-over.
There were 25 rounds in the 60s over the first two rounds, but there was none Thursday and only six Friday. The following was the scoring average per round at the 7,060-yard par-72 Tour Course at The Club at Weston Hills:
With officials disqualifying Jalen Ledger and Jake Daly withdrawing Friday, 95 players completed the 72-hole event. There were 103 in the field when the tournament started Tuesday.
“I have a bunch of buddies who have played on this Tour and said they have had a blast. The competition is really good, and I’m excited to go see some of the places that we play, excited to travel and see these countries. I speak a little bit of Spanish, but I’m looking forward to interacting with a lot of people out there.” –A.J. Crouch
“It just happened. I hit it within a foot on 10, I chipped in on 11 and then I made a 40-footer for eagle on 12. I was getting some gifts out there, but I was putting myself in positions to do that. It felt nice to get really under par and give myself a nice cushion for the remaining holes because the back nine is very difficult in this wind.” –Piri Borja discussing his birdie-birdie-eagle string between holes 10 and 12
Tournament Fast Fact
There are two 2020 PGA TOUR Latinoamérica Qualifying Tournament remaining. The next one will be played at Estrella del Mar Resort in Mazatlán, Mexico next week. The last one will be played at Cañuelas Golf Club in Buenos Aires, Argentina (January 28-31).
Final-Round Weather Report
Cloudy. High of 79. Wind E at 16 mph.