Kisner wins by one stroke at Chile Classic

March 10, 2013

By Joe Chemycz, Tour staff

SANTIAGO, Chile – Kevin Kisner fired a 4-under-par 68 Sunday to win the Chile Classic and earn his second career title on the Tour. Kisner, one of three 54-hole co-leaders, played the final five holes at the Prince of Wales Country Club one-over par but his 21-under 267 score was enough to edge out Brice Garnett (68) and Edward Loar (69) by one stroke for the trophy.

Guy Boros (65) and hometown favorite Benjamin Alvarado (71) tied for fourth at 18-under. Five others shared sixth place at minus-17 but the weeklong birdie fest in Santiago belonged to Kisner, who figured he might be in the mix despite playing poorly in Panama and Colombia.

“I don’t know why I won because I played so bad the last two weeks and missed the cut,” he said. “It wasn’t terrible but my game wasn’t there and I wasn’t confident. This course just fit my eye really well. I knew when I played my first nine holes in the practice round that I’d have a chance here.”

An opening 71 put him well back in the pack but a course-record, 11-under 61 on Saturday vaulted him into a share of the lead with Alvarado and Loar. Sunday figured to be a shootout but Kisner inched his way to a three-shot lead early on the back nine.

“I was trying to get to 22-under all day. That was the number I had in my head,” he said after starting out at 17-under. “When I got there with the birdie at 13 and still had two par-5s I thought I was going to be good. It was a little shaky there coming in.”

Kisner hooked his tee shot into the trees at the par-5, 14th hole and his ball nestled into a nasty lie.

“That was the worst lie I saw all week. I could barely advance the ball,” he said. “It was an ugly six.”

Kisner wound up with a bogey-6 on the second-easiest hole of the week, which cut his lead to one.

“That made me start thinking a bit,” said Kisner, who picked up a check for $117,000. “It was a pretty ugly last four holes too. I didn’t really do anything and they weren’t that pretty but the guys in front of me didn’t do anything special to put any pressure on me.”

Loar had fallen three back with a bogey at No. 15 and closed to within one with birdies on his final two holes.

“I played pretty good and obviously those first two days it was lights out,” said Loar, who opened with back-t0-back 65s to lead by two at the halfway mark. “I’ll probably look back on a couple of putts and figure I had a chance to win but that’s why you have to play them all. Anytime you shoot 20-under par you can’t really complain.”

Garnett was 4 under and bogey-free through 14 and had the leader in his sights but he dumped his second shot into a bunker at the par-4 16th and failed to get up and down for par.

“There was the one shot that probably cost me,” he said.

Garnett rebounded with a birdie on 17 and faced the reachable, par 5 closer.

“I didn’t look at board until 18 tee. I knew there was going to be some stuff going on behind me with the crown and I didn’t want that to affect me,” he said. “I figured I had a pretty good chance, one down with one par-5 to play.”

Garnett went for the green in two but his four-iron from 215 bounced over the back of the green.

“It’s hard to pull one less there with water front right,” said. “I had a chance to make birdie but couldn’t get that last one up and down.”

Garnett’s par meant all Kisner had to do was play conservatively and make it a three-shot hole.

“I could have gone for it if I needed to but I saw Brice miss that putt,” said Kisner, who hit 7-iron for his second shot. “I was just hoping it was for birdie and I wasn’t making a mistake. I figured I could I make par from 80 yards.”

His wedge stopped 20 feet from the pin and all he needed was two putts.

“I was glad to see the first putt stop where it did,” he said. “One foot, I got that.”

Fourth-Round Notes & Quotes:

-- Sunday weather: Sunny. Wind W-SW 5-10 mph. High of 88.

-- Kevin Kisner now has won twice on the Tour:
2013 Chile Classic
2010 Mylan Classic

-- Kisner missed the cut in his first two starts this year was a cumulative 5-over par in starts at the Panama Claro Championship and Colombia Championship.

-- Kisner fired a course-record, 11-under-par 61 in the third round, breaking the previous mark by three shots. His previous career low on either Tour was a 9-under 62 in the second round of the 2011 Mylan Classic, near Pittsburgh. He had five birdies and two eagles that day and tied for fifth that week.

-- Kisner has played on the PGA TOUR the past two years and made 10 cuts in 24 starts in both 2011 and 2012. He has four top-25 finishes and his only top-10 was a T10 at the 2012 RBC Canadian Open.

-- Edward Loar, winner of the 2012 Panama Claro Championship, was attempting to become the fifth player in Tour history to register more than one win outside of the United States:
- Joe Ogilvie -- 1998 Monterrey Open, 2003 Jacob’s Creek Open Championship
- Gavin Coles -- 2002 Jacob’s Creek Open Championship, 2004 New Zealand PGA Championship
- Peter O’Malley -- 2002 Clearwater Classic, 2005 ING New Zealand PGA Championship
- Vance Veazey -- 2005 Panama Claro Championship, 2009 Panama Claro Championship

-- Edward Loar led the tournament with 27 birdies. Benjamin Alvarado was second with 26.

-- I.J. Jang of Korea birdied six of his final 10 holes for a final-round 66 and a T6 finish. This was the second career start on the Tour for the 40-year old Jang, who spent the past eight seasons on the Japan Tour. Jang, who lives in Fullerton, Calif., has made 165 starts in Japan and won the 2005 Diamond Cup Tournament.

“Since my family is in the US, I want to gain more experience playing in the US,” said Jang, who missed the cut last week at the Colombia Championship. “My goal is to try and make it to the PGA TOUR.”

-- Santiago’s Benjamin Alvarado struggled to find the magic in front of a decidedly hometown crowd. One of three 54-hole co-leaders and playing in the final pairing, the 27-year old bogeyed the second hole but recovered with birdies at Nos. 5, 9 and 13 to get within two of the leader. Alvarado, a 2-time All-American at Arizona State, dropped out of contention with a double-bogey at No. 15, which put him four off the lead.

He eventually birdied the final hole to move back into a tie for 4th place.

-- Alvarado is a 27-year-old native of Santiago, Chile. He was a heralded junior player and after waiting 18 months following his graduation, he eventually found his way to Arizona State University as a 19-year old freshman in 2005. He was a two-time All-American for the Sun Devils and turned pro following graduation in 2008.

-- With Alvarado's T4 finish, he collects $28,600 and moves closer to earning Special Temporary Membership status on the Tour for 2013. Alvarado needs to match/surpass the equivalent of #100 on the 2012 money list ($54,799 by Michael Connell) to gain his status. When he does, he will be part of the conditionally exempt group that will be re-shuffled after every four event. His top-25 effort this week will earn him a start at the Tour’s next stop, the Chitimacha Louisiana Open in two weeks.

-- Alvarado is a two-time winner of the Chile Open (2003, 2010) and also won the 2002 Orange Bowl tournament and the 2003 Southern Amateur. His Chile Open win in 2010 came on this same Prince of Wales CC course where he finished with a 22-under par score, the same winning score that Paul Haley II posted for his victory in last year’s event.

-- Alvarado had previously made nine career starts on the Tour and made five cuts. His best finish was a T9 in this event last year. He made three cuts in six starts on Tour in 2012.

-- Alvarado's only start on the PGA TOUR came at the 2011 RBC Canadian Open, where he received a sponsor exemption into the field. He posted scores of 76-71 and missed the cut.

-- Alvarado made six cuts in six starts on the 2012 LatinoAmerica Tour and had three top-10 finishes. His best week was a solo sixth at the TransAmerican Power Products Open presented by Corona in Monterrey, Mexico in mid-September.

-- Alvarado won four of the five events on the Chilean Summer Tour, which served as the qualifying tournaments to gain entry into this week Chile Classic.

-- Rookie Ryan Spears of Wichita, Kan. is off to a solid start in 2013. The 27-year old fired a 5-under 67 to finish in 11th place at 16-under. Spears finished with a tournament-low three bogeys. He has gotten better each week – he started with a T56 at the Panama Claro Championship, and was T19 at the Colombia Championship last week. His finish in Santiago bumped him up to No. 20 on the money list.

-- Guy Boros, Pompano Beach, Fla., moved into contention Sunday when he played the first 12 holes in 6-under par. Boros, 48, challenged for the lead and moved to 17-under par when he holed his second shot from 157 yards at the par-4, 12th hole.

“I hit 8-iron there and it took 2 or 3 hops and went in. It was a good shot so I thought it would be close,” he said. “I knew I needed a strong finish and then I made par at 14, an easy par-5, and missed about a 6-footer for birdie at 15 so I was pretty much done after that.”

Boros birdied the final hole for a bogey-free 7-under 65 and an 18-under total, which put him T4, his best finish since he won the 2003 Dayton Open, the second of two wins for him that year.

“I put a little scare in them I guess,” he said. “Not bad for an old, fat guy, huh!”

At 48 years, 6 months and 6 days, Boros would have become the fourth-oldest winner in Tour history.

-- Santiago’s Felipe Aguilar shot a 4-under 68 for a 17-under 271 total to finish T6. This was only the third career start on the Tour for Aguilar, who has been a regular member of the European Tour for six of the past seven years. The 38-year old American-educated (University of North Florida) Aguilar won the 2008 Enjoy Jakarta Astro Indonesia Open and finished second to Danny Lee at the 2009 Johnnie Walker Classic. He also had three top-10 finishes in 2011 and 2012 and will return to the European Tour for the 2013 season.

-- Andrew Putnam (65) and Scott Sterling (65) both posted scores of 6-under 30 on the front nine. Putnam finished T58 while Sterling was T12.

-- Best rounds of the day:
65 – Guy Boros, Matias O’Curry, Andrew Putnam, Scott Sterling

-- Players who were bogey-free in the fourth round:
65 – Guy Boros
67 – Phillip Pettitt
68 – Brian Prouty
70 – Derek Fathauer, Patrick Sheehan, Daniel Chopra

Course statistics for the week
By the numbers
  Front (36)         Back (36) Total (72)
Round 1 35.049 35.266 70.315
Round 2 35.028 35.12 70.148
Round 3 35.265 35.044 70.309
Round 4 34.941 34.647 69.588
Total 35.059 35.081 70.14

-- Did You Know About Chile? – Chile has a great diversity of natural landscapes, from the Mars-like landscapes of the hyperarid Atacama Desert to the glacier-fed fjords of the Chilean Patagonia, passing by the winelands backdropped by the Andes of the Central Valley and the old-growth forests of the Lakes District. Easter Island and Juan Fernández Archipelago, including Robinson Crusoe Island, are also major attractions.

-- The Tour will take next week off before returning to begin play in the continental United States. Next on the schedule is the Chitimacha Louisiana Open at Le Triomphe Country Club March 18-24. Last year Casey Wittenberg fired a 65 in the final round and blitzed the field by a tournament-record eight strokes, which also matched the fourth-largest winning margin in Tour history. Wittenberg made only two bogeys during the week, both were three-putts, and played the final 48 holes without a bogey. The former Oklahoma State star went on to win again in 2012, finish No. 1 on the money list and was named the Tour Player of the Year.