05 Jul 2021 | Professional golf |
Davis wins maiden PGA Tour title
by PGA of Australia
A hole-out bunker shot for eagle at the 71st hole, a birdie to make the playoff and a heart-stopping five-hole sudden death marathon has propelled Sydney’s Cameron Davis to a stunning breakthrough PGA TOUR title at the Rocket Mortgage Classic.
One stroke back entering the final round at Detroit Golf Club, the 2017 Australian Open champion was even par through 11 holes before catching fire over the final seven holes, three birdies on the trot from the 12th hole, the eagle at 17 and a birdie from just six feet on the 72nd hole catapulting him into a playoff with Chilean Joaquin Niemann and American Troy Merritt.
A perfect drive and laser-like iron to inside six feet put Davis in prime position to close out victory in his 71st start on Tour but his putt at the first playoff hole stayed left on the high side, Niemann’s first bogey of the tournament leaving Merritt and Davis to fight it out at the second playoff hole.
After Davis safely found the putting surface with a wedge at the par-3 15th 20 feet behind the hole Merritt pulled his tee shot into the greenside bunker. The American produced a brilliant shot from the sand to make three and when Davis’s birdie putt failed to break enough to the right for the second hole in succession the playoff entered phase three.
Once again it was Davis who had the early advantage with a drive that split the par-4 16th as Merritt’s tee shot flared right. Merritt punched out from the right rough to just short of the green as Davis hit a wedge from 142 yards to 18 feet left of the cup, his birdie putt swinging just below the hole for a tap-in par.
Merritt’s powerfully-struck par putt from five feet extended the duel to a fourth hole, the par-5 14th, the easiest hole on the golf course where both players successfully found the fairway with their tee shots.
Under immense pressure Davis bettered Merritt’s superb approach shot to play a soaring 3-iron from 236 yards to just 18 feet for eagle but again the knockout punch didn’t land, tap-in birdies sending them back to the par-3 15th for a second time.
Once again Davis found the green as Merritt missed short and left and although he failed to close it out with a birdie, Merritt’s miss from six feet for par completed the coronation of Australia’s newest PGA TOUR champion.
“It’s been pretty hectic ever since the 17th hole for me,” a relieved and elated Davis said on the 15th green.
“I just tried to put it as much out of my mind as I could and just hit every shot for what it was worth.
“As simple as that sounds, it’s so hard to do when the pressure is on like that.”
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