Musselman outlasts Nimmer on fourth playoff hole to capture Auburn event
September 03, 2020
By Staff, PGATOURLA.COM
- September 03, 2020
AUBURN, Alabama—The finish in regulation to The Invitational at Auburn University Club wasn’t what Cooper Musselman wanted as he finished par-bogey to fall into a playoff with two-time LOCALiQ Series winner Bryson Nimmer. The extra session? That was a different story even if it took a while. In the end, Musselman walked away extremely happy.
On the fourth playoff hole against the LOCALiQ Series’ top player, Musselman two-putted for par from 30 feet on Auburn University Club’s 11th hole and then watched as Nimmer missed a 13-foot putt for par that gave Musselman the win, 500 Race to The Bahamas points and a $16,000 first-place check.
“There are some really good players in the state of Kentucky, and that win felt like a really good win because that was my first big win,” Musselman said thinking of his victory as an amateur at the 2017 Kentucky State Open. “I think this win is a little better because the competition is so tough. I feel like anybody in the field could win this. Everybody here is pretty good, and it gives me some confidence for sure.”
Musselman, who moved to No. 4 on the Race to The Bahamas Points Standings, looked like he could win the tournament in regulation when his birdie putt on the 54th hole slid a couple inches to the right of the cup. Then on No. 18 again, Musselman experienced what might have been a heartbreaker had he not gone on to win. On the first playoff hole, Nimmer two-putted for par from 32 feet, while Musselman had a chance to end the session there. He looked at a 13-foot birdie putt, and all his ball did was a 360-degree dance around the cup before staying out.
“That was wild. I watched that ball disappear. I took a step thinking he had already made it,” Nimmer said. “I had the flag already in my hand and was ready to say congrats. It completely went back out and sat on the front lip.”
After the two played No. 18 again, trading pars for a second consecutive time, they moved to the 10th, the third playoff hole, and that’s when the fireworks really began.
Nimmer faced a 17-foot birdie putt, and Musselman was short of the green, about 30 feet from the cup with a birdie look of his own. “I figured if I wanted to cozy it up there, I would putt it and secure par. It was an uphill chip, and there wasn’t a whole lot of grain,” he explained. “I knew I was going to hit a solid chip if my technique was correct. I hit a good chip, hit my spot and it dropped in for me.
“Bryson was really clutch coming down the stretch. I figured there was probably a 70-percent chance he would make his putt, and he dropped it,” Musselman continued.
Musselman showed his poise late in regulation, especially on the par-5 16th. He held a one-shot lead over Alex Smalley and a two-shot cushion over Nimmer. After Nimmer hit what he called “the two best shots I could have possibly hit,” his 3-wood approach landing 11 feet from the cup, Musselman hit an indifferent chip from in front of the green, facing an 18-footer for birdie. Musselman made that, and Nimmer’s eagle putt slipped by.
“It easily could have changed right there, and he stepped up and made his putt for birdie,” Nimmer said. “From there, I’m kind of scrambling because [Musselman] has a two-shot lead. If he makes two pars or a birdie and a par coming in, I don’t really have a chance.”
Musselman opened the door by missing the green on the par-3 17th, unable to get up and down for par, and Nimmer forced the playoff by stuffing his approach to three feet on the 18th and rolling in the tying putt.
“I had a really bad day with the putter. I didn’t make a whole lot,” Nimmer explained. “Most of my birdies were inside four or five feet. I had to him them close to make them.”
Mexico’s Álvaro Ortiz just missed getting into the playoff. He faced a 22-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole. Had he made it, it would have moved him to 18-under, but the ball stopped on the lip, refusing to fall. He finished alone in third.
Musselman primarily played 2019 on the Mackenzie Tour, making six cuts in seven starts—a pair of ties for 11th at the Players Cup and the Canada Life Championship his best outings. He also played in two PGA TOUR events, the Barbasol Championship and the Desert Classic, and two Korn Ferry Tour tournaments, missing the cut in all four.
Musselman will attempt to keep his momentum going even as the Series observes a three-week break. Action resumes for the Florida portion of the schedule, with the Jacksonville Championship first up, September 23-25.
Did you know when Cooper Musselman won the 2017 Kentucky Open, he became the 17th amateur in the history of the event to win the title? Musselman joined current PGA TOUR player J.B. Holmes and past TOUR players Gay Brewer and Jodie Mudd as amateurs who won the Bluegrass State’s state open.
Race to The Bahamas Points Standings
Through The Invitational at Auburn University Club
Player (Home Tour)
Bryson Nimmer (Mackenzie Tour)
Hayden Shieh (Mackenzie Tour)
Stoney Crouch (Mackenzie Tour)
Cooper Musselman (Mackenzie Tour)
Alex Smalley (Mackenzie Tour)
Raúl Pereda (PGA TOUR Latinoamérica)
Patrick Cover (PGA TOUR Series-China)
Justin Suh (PGA TOUR Latinoamérica)
David Pastore (Mackenzie Tour)
Isaiah Salinda (Mackenzie Tour)
• There was a fog delay of 1 hour, 20 minutes prior to the start of play.
• Bryson Nimmer captured the Southern Company Southern Swing after he won twice, added a runner-up showing and a tie for 14th in the LOCALiQ Series’ first four events that comprised the Swing. For his play, Nimmer pocketed a $7,500 bonus from Southern Company, while Hayden Shieh finished second and earned $2,500. Shieh had two runner-up finishes in the Series’ first four tournaments.
• Bryson Nimmer and Alex Smalley caught Justin Suh for most top-10s this season with Nimmer’s second-place showing, Smalley’s tie for fourth and Suh not finishing inside the top 10 this week (tied for 33rd). All three have three top-10s, the difference is two of Nimmer’s top-10s are wins along with this week’s runner-up showing.
• In his first start in a PGA TOUR-affiliated Tour event, Auburn graduate Trace Crowe acquitted himself well on an extremely familiar golf course. Crowe finished at 15-under and tied for fourth with Alex Smalley.
• Auburn graduate Jacob Solomon, a sponsor exemption this week, had a solid tournament, posting three under-par rounds, including a 4-under 68 Thursday to tie for 19th. It was Solomon’s second LOCALiQ Series appearance. He missed the cut at The Championship at Echelon Golf Club in Alpharetta, Ga., in August.
• Sixteen players had three rounds in the 60s this week. They were Eric Ansett, Peter Creighton, Trace Crowe, Brendon Doyle, Andrés Gallegos, David Germann, MJ Maguire, Cooper Musselman, Patrick Newcomb, Bryson Nimmer, Álvaro Ortiz, David Pastore, Josh Radcliff, Trey Shirley, Travis Trace and Motin Yeung.
• Andy Ogletree finished as the low amateur this week, tying for 33rd at 8-under, narrowly edging China’s Aaron Du, who shot a 1-under 71 Thursday to finish at 7-under and tied for 39th.
• Cooper Musselman matched Bryson Nimmer for largest deficit overcome on the final day to win. Nimmer was three shots back starting the final round of The Championship at Echelon Golf Club, while Musselman was three strokes back when Thursday’s final round started.
• Last week’s winner, Stoney Crouch, shot a final-round 68 to finish the tournament at 10-under and tied for 23rd.
• The No. 1 player in the Race to The Bahamas Points Standings at the conclusion of the final event of the season, the LOCALiQ Series Championship at the Ocean Club Golf Course at Atlantis Paradise Island Bahamas, earns a PGA TOUR start at a 2020-21 PGA TOUR event. Bryson Nimmer maintains his stranglehold on the top spot, 756 points ahead of Hayden Shieh.
• The top-78 eligible players on the Race to The Bahamas Points Standings following the final event of the season, the Classic at The Club at Weston Hills in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., will also qualify for the LOCALiQ Series Championship at Atlantis Bahamas.
• Charles Huntzinger earned his Mackenzie Tour status in March at Mission Inn Resort and Club in Florida. Huntzinger, who played collegiately at Penn State, tied for 10th that week to earn membership for the what would have been the first half of the Mackenzie Tour season before officials canceled the season. Huntzinger made his first cut in four LOCALiQ Series tries, finishing at 14-under and posting a tie for sixth.
• Mexico’s Álvaro Ortiz was the top international finisher this week. He followed his opening 64 with a 3-under 69 and a 66 to finish one shot out of the Cooper Musselman-Bryson Nimmer playoff. Mexico was well represented this week as Ortiz, Aaron Terrazas (tied for 13th), Raul Pereda (tied for 33rd) and Juan Carlos Benitez (tied for 55th) all made the cut.
• In his rookie season as a professional on the Mackenzie Tour in 2019, Eric Ansett played in 10 of the 12 events, making six cuts but only finishing inside the top 25 once—a tie for 23rd at the DC Bank Open. He finished 97th on the Order of Merit but re-earned his playing privileges at the Dothan, Ala., Qualifying Tournament. Ansett enjoyed his best LOCALiQ Series performance of the season as he shot rounds of 66-69-68 to tie for 10th. He tied for 27th last week at The Classic at Callaway Gardens.
• There were two significant high school connections among the leaders this week. Bryson Nimmer (second place) and Trace Crowe (tied for fourth) both attended Hilton Head Christian Academy in South Carolina, graduating together. Cooper Musselman (winner) and Brendon Doyle (tied for sixth) both attended St. Xavier High School in Louisville, were in the same class and played together on the Tigers’ golf team. Nimmer attended Clemson, while Crowe went to Auburn. Musselman was a standout at Kentucky and Doyle played at Indiana.
“I had good vibes all week. It was a lot of fun coming into the week. I knew I was hitting it well. I just needed to make some putts. Some putts dropped early the first day and that gave me the confidence to move throughout the whole tournament.” –Cooper Musselman
“I’m just happy. There’s no other way to describe it.” –Cooper Musselman
“I’m so blessed to have friends and family call me and send me texts. That actually means more than the win. It makes it all worth it.” –Cooper Musselman
“I didn’t hit the greatest pitch, and it ended up rolling right next to his line. He didn’t have to move his coin or anyting, but he was basically going to see his line from my putt. I was thinking over it. I didn’t really know where I stood. I thought, It would be great if I could make this, and we’ll figure it all out later. Sure enough, I hit a good putt and it went in. –Cooper Musselman on his 17-foot birdie on No. 16 in regulation that maintained his two-shot lead
“I made a mistake from the fairway. I was in the rough. I thought I was going to catch a flyer. I thought I hit it right at it, it came up short in the rough. I had a weird little lie and didn’t hit a great chip shot. It happens.” –Bryson Nimmer on his approach shot on the fourth playoff hole
“Just a lot of credit to Cooper. He played unbelievably today from the very beginning. He shot 5-under on the front and didn’t seem like he made a mistake all day except for on 17. It was a lot of good stuff.” –Bryson Nimmer
“We had seen each other in passing before, but we had never played together. Cooper is a really nice guy. He’s awesome. I have a lot of respect for his golf game. The entire day he might have missed one shot. It was pretty impressive how he handled himself in that situation.” –Bryson Nimmer
Next LOCALiQ Series Tournament:
Hidden Hills Golf Club
Final-Round Weather: There was a morning fog delay that delayed the beginning of the round. It lasted 1 hour, 20 minutes. Hot and humid as the day progressed. High of 91. Wind W at 5-7 mph.