07 Sep 2020 | Professional golf |
Drewitt's emotional drought-breaker
by Mark Hayes
He’d waited six long years for a win on American soil, so another few minutes probably didn’t seem that critical for Australian Brett Drewitt.
But the relief that washed over the affable New South Welshman was almost palpable after he was accosted by beer-spraying mates while staying loose on the practice range.
Drewitt, 29, won the Lincoln Land Championship in Illinois today, fending off three challengers by a stroke for his first victory on the Korn Ferry Tour.
A closing 68 afforded the Sydneysider a one-shot lead having been in the second-last group out on the Panther Creek layout in Springfield, Illinois.
But it wasn’t until the birdie putt of rookie American Austen Truslow, playing in the final group, finished agonisingly short that the deal was sealed.
Nervously hitting shots on the range, Drewitt knew it was over when fellow pro Tag Ridings ran towards him to shower him in beer.
“I look over and saw Tag giving me the fist-pump from by the 18th green, and then they started running over towards me,” Drewitt said later with a beer-drenched smile.
“Cam, my caddie, said, `Man you did it’.
“At that point I was just bracing myself for the beer to get sprayed all over me.”
The win celebrates a high point in what had previously been a disappointing season for the Aussie, who last played regularly on the PGA Tour in 2017.
Drewitt is one of six players who have played in all 19 Korn Ferry events this season, but entering the week had made just six cuts with two top-10 finishes in consecutive weeks back in February.
Including this tournament, he had competed for 13 consecutive weeks, but only once finished in the top 40 in that time.
“It’s surreal right now; it’s been a hard road over the last couple of years,” said Drewitt, who entered the week 73rd in the tour’s points standings, but vaulted all the way to No.18.
“This year has been a rollercoaster. When I got to the PGA Tour, I led in ball-striking out here (on KFT in 2016).
“I just trusted that I still had it, even if it might not show in my stats. And then the putts started dropping and that’s just the way it goes.”
Drewitt took giant strides to victory with a second-round nine-under-par 62 and didn’t make a bogey in 40 holes from late in his first round.
He’d made five birdies by the 14th today, but a bogey on the 15th set him up for a nervous closing hour in his 116th start on the KFT.
But Drewitt, who remarkably became the ninth Aussie winner on global tours this year, closed strongly with three pars, including a clutch 1.5m par roll on the tough final hole.
Englishman Harry Hall had matched Drewitt at 19 under, but took bogey up the last to fall back.
So it was left to Truslow, who had leapt from the pack with an eagle on the long 16th, but his 10m last-ditch roll came up about five rolls short to ensure Drewitt joined Lucas Herbert, Min Woo Lee, Adam Scott, Marc Leishman, Cameron Smith, Steph Kyriacou, Wade Ormsby and fellow KFT player Curtis Luck as Aussie winners in 2020.
“I was talking to my parents last night and I was kind of thinking about how cool it would be to win on Father’s Day,” said Drewitt, a father to 18-month-old Brady.
“I didn’t say anything to my parents because lately my words have been coming back to bite me, but it’s a surreal feeling.”
Of the other Australians in the field, Jamie Arnold finished at T22 at 11 under, while Luck missed the cut.
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