Cone wins Ellie Mae Classic, secures Finals berth
August 12, 2018
By Alex Wood, PGATOUR.COM
- August 12, 2018
- Trevor Cone arrived in the Bay Area at No. 135 on the Web.com Tour money list. He departed with his first Tour title. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
HAYWARD, Calif. – After claiming the third-round lead at the Web.com Tour’s Ellie Mae Classic at Stonebrae, Virginia Tech alum Trevor Cone jokingly quoted the film Talladega Nights; “If you’re not first, you’re last,” he said when asked about sitting at No. 135 on the money list with just two events left in the Regular Season. Though his answer might have had some humor to it, Cone took the phrase to heart Sunday, shooting a smooth 6-under 64 during the final round to finish the week at 23-under 257, good for a four-stroke victory over Josh Teater and his first Web.com Tour title.
“It won’t sink in for a while,” Cone said following his victory. “I’m enjoying it right now, but I’ve been so concentrated on just playing golf today and yesterday that – I mean, you never think it’s going to happen until it does. It’s crazy how it works, but I’m ecstatic to be honest.”
The 25-year-old began the day slow and steady, parring his first two holes before picking up a birdie at the par-5 third, a hole he birdied three out of four rounds. Cone picked up another birdie on No. 5, allowing himself to reclaim the lead on an increasingly bunched leaderboard. The North Carolina native added to his total as he neared the turn, birdieing No. 8 to begin a three-hole birdie streak and pull away from the pack.
“When I woke up this morning,” he remarked, “I was lying in bed and I had the excited energy feeling in my stomach. Once I got ready and was leaving the hotel, it turned into, like, you know, this is my eighth [career] event, what do I have to fret over? A good finish is a good finish regardless, so I kind of just came out and was like, however I play, I’m just going to commit to every golf swing and where it goes is where it goes, and I’ll play it from there.”
Cone remained poised on the back nine, picking up two birdies alongside seven pars to finish the day with a clean 66, his third-straight bogey-free round of the week. When it came time for him to tee off on the final hole, he was four strokes shy of the field and with all other groups having already completed play, the title was his to lose.
“I kind of glanced up on No. 15 after I made birdie,” Cone commented when asked about the final hole, “and I think I saw that [Josh] Teater was at 19-under... I had to get through that tee shot on No. 18 but after that, I just kind of knew where I was, and I asked Murph [my caddie] walking up to the shot on 18 where I stood, and he said, ‘I think it’s three or four. It depends on whether Teater made birdie or not.’
“That’s the first time I’ve never really looked at a leaderboard in that position. It was the right move. I was just trying to play good golf, and not making a bogey really helps. We’re here now, so everything is good.”
Trevor Cone interview after winning Ellie Mae Classic
Cone spent the 2016 and 2017 seasons competing on the Mackenzie Tour – PGA TOUR Canada, where he made 23 starts and picked up 11 top 25-finishes, including a T4 at the 2017 Freedom 55 Financial Open. The former ACC Individual Championship winner turned his sites to the Web.com Tour for the 2018 season, advancing to the Web.com Tour Qualifying Tournament for the second time in his three years as a professional (Cone advanced in 2016 as well). Unfortunately for Cone, he finished the week T99, leaving Arizona with no guaranteed starts for the season.
“It’s been funny,” he joked after the round. “I didn’t really see this kind of trajectory. I’ve always been kind of steadily, through college and whatnot, just getting progressively better, like good finishes, good finishes. So to get through Q-School in 2016 and get conditional last year but not get any starts was kind of disappointing. And then getting back there last year was kind of disappointing because I knew I could play better golf. After that, I took like a month off and I didn’t even touch a golf club.”
Despite Monday qualifying and earning sponsor’s exemptions into three events, Cone struggled to move into the reshuffle. When the field at the LECOM Health Challenge went deep, Cone found himself with another chance. A T8 on the week allowed him to move into the reshuffle and earned him a spot in the following week’s Utah Championship presented by Zions Bank, where he followed up his strong play with a T24.
“I tell everyone back home that it’s a fine line,” Cone said, “and one week can change your life and now here I am, talking to [the media after a win]. It’s a really fine line. Anyone who is out here each week can win. It doesn’t matter if you’re the last man in the field or No. 1 on the money list like Sungjae Im. It’s pretty awesome to say that I’m a champion this week.”
Cone’s victory came with a $108,000 paycheck, enough to move him to No. 37 on the money list and secure his first Web.com Tour Finals berth. With next week’s WinCo Foods Portland Open presented by Kraft-Heinz marking the end of the 2018 Regular Season, the Tour rookie finds himself in a place he didn’t think he would be at the start of the season – within reach of his first PGA TOUR card.
“I’m definitely going to enjoy this tonight at least,” he remarked, “and maybe even tomorrow, and then kind of shift gears. It’s kind of a whirlwind, but being No. 37 on the money list now, I’ve got a decent chance if I have a really good finish with the purse next week to get a PGA TOUR card, as odd as that sounds, but we’re going to go for it. I’m looking forward to it.”
Trevor Cone wins by four shots at Ellie Mae Classic