Puerto Rico Open: Final-Round Notebook

March 23, 2008
Joe Chemycz, PGA TOUR Staff

RIO GRANDE, Puerto Rico -- Veteran Greg Kraft earned his first official PGA TOUR in his 379th career start Sunday in the inaugural Puerto Rico Open presented by Banco Popular. Kraft collected an unofficial win at the 1993 Deposit Guaranty Classic, which was held the same week as the Masters Tournament. Kraft posted a final-round 70 to finish at 14-under 274 and win by one stroke over Jerry Kelly and Bo Van Pelt, the first-, second- and third-round leader.

Inside the Numbers
Final Leaderboard
Player Score
1. Greg Kraft 274 -14
T2. Jerry Kelly 275 -13
T2. Bo Van Pelt 275 -13
T4. Kevin Stadler 276 -12
T4. Briny Baird 276 -11
T6. Tim Wilkinson 277 -10
T6. Marco Dawson 277 -10
T6. Tommy Armour III 277 -10
9. Brenden Pappas 278 -9
T10. Steve Allan 280 -8
T10. Larry Mize 280 -8
T10. Ted Purdy 280 -8
Inside the Numbers
Scoring Averages
Round Front 9 Back 9 Total
1 35.735 36.273 72.008
2 35.806 36.000 71.806
3 36.062 35.704 71.765
4 36.253 36.667 72.920
Total 35.936 36.062 71.998

Greg Kraft birdied the 71st hole to move to 15 under par and when he moved to the 18th tee he owned a three-stroke lead. Jerry Kelly, playing in the group in front of Kraft, birdied the final hole to finish at 13 under par. Playing partner Bo Van Pelt just missed a 20-foot eagle putt on the final hole and also finished at 13 under. Kraft, meantime, bogeyed the final hole for the one-shot win, his first since winning the Nationwide Tour's Northeast Pennsylvania Classic (Scranton, Pa.) in 2005.

Jerry Kelly birdied the final hole Sunday to finish at 13 under par and tied for second. Kelly, who was third at the Sony Open in Hawaii, is off to one of the best starts of his career. Kelly now has a pair of top-3 finishes -- something that he's done only twice before in a single season. Kelly had two runner-up finishes in 2006 and collected a pair of wins in 2002. In no other year has the 41-year-old Wisconsin native registered more than two top-3 finishes.

• Rookie Tim Wilkinson of New Zealand, making only his ninth career start, appears to be settling in on TOUR now. The 29-year-old had his career-best finish this week, a tie for sixth. Wilkinson shot a final-day 69 to move into the top 10. Wilkinson started the year with a tie for 25th at the Sony Open in Hawaii and then missed his next three cuts. Wilkinson finished tied for 28th at the Mayakoba Golf Classic at Riviera Maya and tied for 30th at The Honda Classic in his most recent starts.

• Canadian Jon Mills enjoyed his best finish in this, his 42nd career start on TOUR. Mills shot a final-round 70 to move up to a tie for 13th, the first top-25 finish of his career. Mills was in position for his first top-10 effort but suffered a double bogey at the 71st hole of regulation. Mills had made only 11 cuts in his previous 41 starts on TOUR. Mills made 27 starts on TOUR in 2006 after graduating from the 2005 Nationwide Tour but advanced to the weekend only six times and earned $65,494. He collected $70,000 this week.

• Veteran Marco Dawson enjoyed his best week in some time. Dawson fired a final-round 71 and tied for sixth place, his first top-10 since the 2007 Buick Open. Dawson has made 352 career starts on TOUR, this is only his 17th career top-10 finish.

Kevin Stadler birdied the final two holes for a 5-under 67 and a 12-under 276 total. Stadler started the day tied for 14th place and advanced up the leaderboard with the best score of the day. His tie for fourth marked his fifth top-10 finish in 85 career starts and his first this year. Stadler's last top-10s came in back-to-back starts last fall, when he tied for second at the Reno-Tahoe Open and then tied for 7th two weeks later at the Wyndham Championship.

Brenden Pappas' hopes for a win were dashed today with a double-bogey at the par-4 12th hole. Pappas dropped from 12 under to 10 under and fell four shots off the lead at that point. Still, the 37-year-old had a solid week and finished in ninth place. Pappas had missed the cut in all four of his TOUR starts this year. This is Pappas' first top-10 effort since a tie for fifth at the 2003 Chrysler Classic of Greensboro -- a span of 57 starts.

Ryan Blaum, a 24-year old Duke University grad (2006) was one of two Monday qualifiers to advance to the weekend. Blaum was making only his second career start this week and posted rounds of 69-66-72-75 and finished tied for 15th place. Blaum and Tom Gillis (tied for 34th) were the two open qualifiers to play the final 36 holes.

Joey Sindelar, who turns 50 on March 30, is making his final start on the PGA TOUR this week before moving to the Champions Tour on a full-time basis. He will make his debut on that Tour at the Cap Cana Championship in the Dominican Republic, April 4-6. Sindelar carded rounds of 70-75 and missed the cut.

• Four players from Puerto Rico received sponsor exemptions this week. Max Alverio (76-75--151) missed the 36-hole cut, while Rafael Campos (72-72-75--219) and Wilfredo Morales (72-69-77--218) both missed the 54-hole cut. And Miguel Suarez (68-72-77-72--289) tied for 61st place and earned $7,350.

• The best rounds of the day Sunday were the 67 from Kevin Stadler, the 68 from Ryan Armour and the 69s from Steve Allan, Andrew Buckle, Bill Haas, Larry Mize and Tim Wilkinson. Players who were bogey-free in the final round were Kevin Stadler (67), Ryan Armour (68) and Jerry Kelly (70).

• This week's inaugural Puerto Rico Open featured a truly international field with a total of 16 different countries represented in the field of 132 players. The countries represented this week include: Argentina, Australia, Canada, Colombia, England, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, Scotland, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden and the United States.