Sucher wins Midwest Classic by three shots
July 27, 2014
By Joe Chemycz, PGATOUR.COM
- Zack Sucher won the Midwest Classic for his first Web.com Tour title. (Stan Badz/PGA TOUR)
OVERLAND PARK, Kan. – Alabama’s Zack Sucher wasn’t at his birdie best on Sunday, but his 1-over-par 72 was still good enough to earn his first Web.com Tour win and punch his ticket to the PGA TOUR next year.
The 27-year-old Sucher posted a four-day total of 19-under 265, good for a three-stroke win over Kansas State grad Aaron Watkins, who also shot a 72 at the wind-swept Nicklaus Golf Club at LionsGate in suburban Kansas City.
Veteran Bill Lunde played his final seven holes in five-under par and closed with a 69 that left him in solo third, four shots off the pace. Mississippi rookie Jonathan Randolph’s 67, one of three bogey-free rounds, moved him into fourth place at 14-under while Derek Fathaeur (69) finished fifth.
“I played really well last week and didn’t get it done the last two days,” said Sucher, who finished T4 at the Albertsons Boise Open after sharing the 36-hole lead. “I’m headed to the PGA TOUR and now I can finally stop worrying about it.”
Sucher already had four top-10 finishes prior to this week, but the winner’s check for $108,000 jumped him 16 spots on the money list to No. 4 with only four weeks left in the regular season. His total of $247,318 will be more than enough to earn a place among the top-25 who will advance to the big stage in 2014-15.
Sucher had overpowered the Nicklaus course for the first three rounds and his 20-under total had staked him to a three-shot lead over Watkins heading into the last day. Nobody else was within five shots and the majority thinking was that one of the two in the final group would ultimately hoist the champion’s crystal.
“I saw the forecast last night and the wind was going to be in the opposite direction than it had been all week,” said Sucher, who opened with scores of 66-63-64. “We saw that wind on Wednesday and it makes almost every hole play harder.”
Sunday wasn’t a birdie-fest but a battle of survival and a day of attrition.
“I knew that it was going to be hard for somebody to shoot a really good score,” said Sucher. “It was going to be tough.”
Any thoughts of a leisurely stroll were gone quickly after Sucher opened his day with back-to-back bogeys.
“Sometimes that helps,” he said. “It’s hard to tell yourself to stay aggressive when you’re in the lead.”
With the rest of the field failing to muster any considerable threat, the final round turned into a give-and-take battle between Sucher and Watkins, with the former holding a slim lead for most of the day.
When Sucher bogeyed Nos. 10 and 11 to fall to 17-under, he suddenly found himself tied with his playing partner.
“It felt a little like match play towards the end,” said the winner, who then clipped off three birdies in a four-hole stretch starting at No. 13. “I like to fade the ball and all day the wind was working against me. It seemed it left-to-right on every hole.”
Luckily the geography changed late as the pair headed towards the clubhouse.
“After 14 I knew it was going to be better,” said Sucher of the wind. “The last four holes set up perfectly for me.”
Sucher, who bombed his driver all over the 7,237-yard layout, bashed another one on the par-5, 15th and two-putted for birdie. He then ran a driver up through a narrow opening on the 364-yard, 16th hole and two-putted from 30 feet for another birdie that put him up by two.
A par-saving putt from 5 feet on the 17th kept his two-shot cushion heading the last hole. Another big drive and wedge put him safely on the green and in control, finally.
Watkins dumped his tee shot into a fairway bunker at 18 and made bogey, putting the final margin at three.
“I wish I could have made it easy on myself early,” said Sucher. “This is incredible. This means a lot for me for the rest of the year and a lot for next year, too.”
Zack Sucher wins Midwest Classic
FOURTH ROUND NOTES:
• Sunday weather: Partly cloudy, becoming mostly cloudy and breezy. Wind NNW 8-14 mph in the morning, 12-18 mph gusts of 20-25 mph in the afternoon. High of 88.
• Sucher earns his first career win in 33rd Web.com Tour start.
• Sucher wins at the age of 27 years, 9 months, 25 days.
• Sucher has made the cut in 12 of 17 starts this year. He has top-10 finishes at the Albertsons Boise Open (T4), the Chitimacha Louisiana Open (T5), the BMW Charity Pro-Am (6th) and the United Leasing Championship (T10).
• Sucher collected a check for $108,000 and pushed his season total to $247,318. He moved up from No. 20 to No. 4 with only four regular season events remaining on the schedule.
• Sucher has played in one PGA TOUR event to date. He missed the cut as an amateur at the 2009 John Deere Classic after shooting scores of 73-71.
• Sucher becomes the 12th first-time winner in 17 Tour events this year.
• Sucher’s 1-over 72 score is the highest final round by a tournament winner this year. Will Wilcox was the last player to shoot an over-par score in the final round and win. Wilcox carded a 1-over 73 at the 2013 South Georgia Classic.
• Australia’s Jarrod Lyle fired a 2-under 69 Sunday to finish at 11-under 273 and T11. Lyle, recovering from a second battle with leukemia, was making his first competitive start in the United States in nearly 2 ½ years.
“Everything’s good,” he said after finishing 72 holes. “The body’s held up well. I’ve done a lot of good things. I think the biggest positive is the fitness side of it, that in the heat I got around four days and got around comfortably. The golf game’s been in good shape for a while but we had to wait and see if it fared well in tournament golf.”
Read more on Lyle's return.
• Rookie Jonathan Randolph of Mississippi finished 4th this week, his fourth top-5 finish of the year. Randolph missed the cut last week but bounced back this week with his second-best effort vs. par this season. Randolph’s 14-under score is second to his 19-under total at the BMW Charity Pro-Am, where he finished solo second. Earlier this year he finished T3 in the consecutive starts at the Chitimacha Louisiana Open and the Mexico Championship.
• Randolph collected a check for $28,800 and increased his season total to $190,876. He is No. 12 on the money list.
• Veteran Bill Lunde, 38, made a late charge up the leaderboard with four birdies and an eagle on the back nine. The net result was a 3rd-place finish, his third straight top-10 finish. Lunder was solo 6th at the Utah Championship two weeks ago and T7 at last week’s Albertsons Boise Open. He also moved into the top-25, jumping eight spots to No. 20.
• Derek Fathauer birdied his final hole for a 2-under 69 and a 13-under total of 271 that put him solo fifth. It’s Fathauer’s fifth top-10 in 17 starts and he drops one spot to No. 11 on the money list. His best week came at the inaugural Nova Scotia Open, where he lost a playoff to Canada’s Roger Sloan.
• Jason Gore saw his streak of bogey-free holes end at 64 when he made double-bogey 6 at the par-4, 6th hole. Gore had played the first three rounds without a bogey and the first five holes today. He also played his last five holes at last week’s Albertsons Boise Open without a bogey. Gore struggled to a 2-over 73 and finished T11.
• Andrew Putnam, the top money-winner in the field this week (No. 2) carded a 2-under 69 in the final round and finishe T24. Putnam trails leading money winner Carlos Ortiz by $55,971.
• Tom Hoge, who matched the course record with an 11-under 60 in Saturday’s third round, shot an even-par 71 and tied for sixth place. Hoge had missed the cut in seven of his previous nine starts.
• Nathan Tyler recorded back-to-back eagles late in the round. Tyler eagled the par-5, 15th and then eagled the par-4, 16th hole. He finished with a 4-under 67 and was T25.
• Bogey-free rounds this week:
65 – Sebastian Cappelen, Mark Hubbard
66 – Derek Fathauer, Jose de Jesus Rodriguez, Henrik Norlander
67 – Jarrod Lyle, Aaron Watkins
68 – Jason Gore, Aron Price
63 – Jason Gore
66 – Steve LeBrun
60 – Tom Hoge
63 – Aron Price, Darron Stiles, D.J. Trahan
64 – Aaron Watkins
65 – Harold Varner, Jonathan Randolph
66 – Bill Lunde, Derek Fathauer
67 – Sam Saunders
68 – Jason Gore, Kyle Thompson, James Nitties
69 – Tom Gilllis
63 – Glen Day
67 – Jonathan Randolph
69 – Kyle Reifers
• Scoring Averages for the week:
Front (35) Back (36) Total (71) Round 1 35.391 35.615 71.006 Round 2 35.581 35.652 71.232 Round 3 33.972 33.819 67.792 Round 4 35.556 35.611 71.167 Total 35.257 35.343 70.600
• NEXT WEEK: The Web.com Tour heads west for the Stonebrae Championship at TPC Stonebrae in Hayward, Calif., July 28-Aug. 3. The tournament was on hiatus in 2013 due to the construction of a new clubhouse. The tournament was held from 2009-2012 with Michael Sim, Kevin Chappell, Daniel Chopra and Alex Aragon collecting the titles. The total purse will be $600,000 with $108,000 going to the winner.