Putnam clinches first TOUR win at Barracuda Championship
August 05, 2018
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
Andrew Putnam's Round 4 highlights from Barracuda
RENO, Nev. – The next time Andrew Putnam takes his annual family trip to Maui, it will be a working vacation.
He’ll hope it’s as productive as the vacation he had this week.
Spending the week with his wife and his parents at nearby Incline Village off the north shore of Lake Tahoe, Putnam used the stress-free environment to his advantage. On Sunday, he put the finishing touches on his first PGA TOUR win, a 9-point round under the Modified Stableford system to win the Barracuda Championship with 47 points.
He did it in style, draining a 23-foot birdie putt from the fringe at the par-5 18th to win by four points over Chad Campbell.
Among the many perks that come with winning a PGA TOUR event is a guaranteed spot in the Sentry Tournament of Champions the first week of January in Maui. The location is familiar for Putnam, but his schedule will be slightly different that week.
“Our family, we vacation there every year pretty much for my whole life,” Putnam said. “And I’ve always gone out there and seen friends play in those tournaments and dreamed of going there.
“That was one thing that really stuck out when I made that putt – that I was going to be going to Maui one week earlier than I had planned.”
Seeing Putnam break through with his first win shouldn’t be a surprise. Two months ago, he shared the 54-hole lead at the FedEx St. Jude Classic with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson. While DJ rolled to victory that Sunday, Putnam’s final-round 72 was not as bad as it seemed.
“Playing against the No. 1 player in the world, and he’s pretty good at what he does,” Putnam said. “Feel like if I was on my game, I could’ve given him a good run. I’m just thankful to be able to have those experiences and grow from them.”
His confidence continued to grow in the ensuing weeks. Then while game-planning for Barracuda, Putnam and his team knew he needed to be more aggressive. Normally he likes courses where par is a premium, but in this Modified Stableford event, Putnam wanted to test himself by finding another gear.
Result: 24 birdies this week, which tied for most by any player in the field.
“He had mentioned that let’s maybe be a little bit more aggressive,” said his caddie Brandon Winton. “I said, OK, let’s go. I’m in on that. He can be aggressive when he wants to be.”
Meanwhile, his off-the-course set-up with his family this week couldn’t have been more relaxed. It allowed him to recharge even during a tournament week. On Saturday night, one of his friends flew into town. Led by his wife Tawny, the entourage cheered his every winning move on Sunday.
“He’s got a nice off-the-course life, which I think has a reflection of what happens on the golf course,” Winton said.
Next week, Andrew and Tawny will celebrate their first anniversary. It’ll need to happen in St. Louis, as Andrew guaranteed himself a spot in the PGA Championship. Then the FedExCup Playoffs will start soon, and his stay could last awhile – he moved up to 31st in the standings with Sunday’s win, essentially guaranteeing starts in the first three events, with an eye toward making the top-30 TOUR Championship. Of course, he’s also now fully exempt on TOUR for the next two seasons.
“A dream week for me,” Putnam said, trying to wrap his head around the spoils of his victory.
Things will be a little different now for Putnam, but one thing will remain – that trip to Maui in January.
He’ll just need to add an extra week to it.
The killer blow for Chad Campbell came at the par-5 13th. With a 5-foot putt for eagle (worth 5 points in the Modifield Stableford system), he could have taken the lead. But he missed it and settled for the 2-point birdie. “That hurt,” said Campbell, seeking his first TOUR win in 11 years. “Anytime you get a chance to make an eagle, you make up so much ground out here.” Campbell was trying to read off playing partner Shane Lowry’s putt from a similar line. Lowry’s putt broke off, but Campbell’s didn’t. “Hit it right where I wanted it,” Campbell said, “and it didn’t turn.” Nonetheless, it was a solid week for Campbell – his first runner-up finish since 2009. “Disappointed I wasn’t able to finish it off, but it happens,” he said. “Definitely moving in the right direction, though.”
John Oda entered this week as a Monday qualifier. He was T-33 after the first round, T-23 after the second round, T-5 after the third round and finished T-3 with J.J. Spaun at his 8-point final round. As a result of his top-10 finish, Oda now has a spot in the Wyndham Championship in two weeks. It’s the second time this season he’s played his way into a tournament with a top-10 result; he also did it during the fall portion of the schedule. “It’s kind of nice this time because there’s a week break at least,” Oda said.
It was a tough day for Sam Saunders, who was solo second after 54 holes and playing in the final group with Putnam. Saunders suffered two bogeys on the front and also had a double bogey at the par-5 13th after a wayward drive found the native area. He ultimately finished with a minus-1 point – one of 11 players to lose points on his round -- and dropped into a tie for seventh. The good news is that he moved from 124th to 120th in the FedExCup standings.
Spaun also moved up the standings from 53 to 48 after his tie for third. It’s his third top-3 finish this season. “I’m kind of happy with how I’m putting things together,” Spaun said. “It’s not completely there but at least I know I can kind of manage the game right now and have some decent rounds.”
William McGirt had the best round on Sunday, a 20-point effort that included one eagle, eight birdies and a bogey. His solo sixth is his first top-10 result of the 2018 calendar year, and it moved him to 111th in FedExCup points. He’s off next week and will play the Wyndham Championship, which is 2-1/2 hours from his home. “Played well there in the past,” he said, “so hopefully keep that momentum going.”
Andrew Putnam drains 23-foot birdie to win Barracuda
QUOTABLESMy only thought going up to that ball was knock this thing in. Just get it over with. You never know how it's going to come out of the fringe. It rolled perfectly.I think this is my seventh week in a row, so kind of been grinding trying to get back in there. Hopefully, I can go to Greensboro and have a good week.
Low round: William McGirt's 20 points.
Longest drive: Tom Lovelady’s 439-yard drive on the par-5 18th hole.
Longest putt: Ricky Barnes' putt from 47 feet, 5 inches for par at the par-5 eighth.
Hardest hole: The 482-yard par-4 5th played to a stroke average of 4.219 and yielded just seven birdies.
Easiest hole: The 517-yard par-5 13th played to a stroke average of 4.548. The field made two eagles and 38 birdies on the hole.
SHOT OF THE DAY
Shot of the Day
Sam Saunders' approach sets up 2-foot birdie for Shot of the Day