|...Carolina Golf News Line|
Ethan Tracy Claims $32,000 First-Place Prize With Stellar Closing Effort at River Hills
Lake Wylie, SC Aug 30, 2014– Former Arkansas Razorback star and 2011 Western Amateur champion Ethan Tracy of Columbus, OH pulled off one of the best rounds of his career on Saturday afternoon en route to winning the eGolf Tour’s $225,000 River Hills Championship. Tracy, who opened the final round trailing overnight leader Chris Gallagher of West Chester, PA by one shot, pared his first 10 holes before catching fire on the demanding River Hills Country Club course, birdieing five holes in a six-hole stretch to tie the week’s low round with a final-round 66 – good for a two-shot win and the event’s $32,000 first-place prize.
Tracy, who opened his 2014 campaign with his first pro win at the tour’s season-opening Palmetto Hall Championship presented by Westin Hilton Head Island, entered the final round at 7-under par – tied for second place alongside Christian Brand of Charleston, WV, trailing Gallagher by a single shot.
Throughout much of the front nine, Tracy sat idle, paring hole after hole while somehow managing to keep pace on a demanding Willard Byrd-designed course that had taken prisoners throughout the week.
“It wasn’t frustrating, because no one was really running away with it on the front nine,” said Tracy, 24. “I was still grinding a little bit, they just didn’t happen to fall.”
While Gallagher faltered throughout the opening nine, Tracy held his place alongside Brand and five-time tour winner Ryan Nelson of Charleston, SC, who was playing in the day’s penultimate threesome.
Nelson, looking for his first tour title in nearly a year, birdied Nos. 10 through 12 to vault from a three-way tie at 7-under par to sole possession of the lead at 10-under.
To his credit, Tracy barely flinched.
“On 11, I made birdie from the back fringe after hitting my tee shot a little long,” said Tracy after a strong par on the demanding par-4 10th. “That really got my round going.”
Stellar approach shots on the par-5 12th and the short par-4 13th delivered a trifecta of birdies for Tracy and kept him in the game, still just one shot back after Nelson found a divot off the tee on his way to an unlikely bogey on No. 13.
“I saw on 11 where Ryan was at 9-under, and that I was two back,” said Tracy. “At that point, I knew I couldn’t just ‘win it’ and that I had to make something happen.”
As Tracy was birdieing 13, Nelson was adding yet another birdie on 14 to stay in the lead. Tracy kept pace yet again with a follow-up birdie on the par-4 14th, which gave way to a two-horse race with four holes to go on one of the tour’s toughest venues.
Both players pared the par-4 15th, then somehow traded birdie blows on the arduous par-4 16th, which played as the third-hardest hole all week.
“On 16, I striped a drive down the fairway and played it real smart with a wedge below the hole to 20 feet,” said Tracy. “I just snaked it in the hole from there.”
As Tracy was dropping yet another red number on 16, Nelson was bogeying the par-3 17th to fall two shots back of his sparring partner after failing to get up and down from just short of the green.
Tracy recorded a solid two-putt par on the 17th while Nelson was paring the par-4 finishing hole, in turn giving way to the Arkansas standout having a two-shot lead on the tee of the 18th hole.
“I thought about just hitting a 5-iron at the last, but then figured I should just keep doing what I was doing,” said Tracy, who laced a hybrid down the middle of the fairway. “Once I had that wedge in my hand, I just tried to play smart.”
From 105 yards, he “chipped” it to 12 feet, setting up an easy two-putt in front of a stellar crowd at the last.
With just a smidge of pace on it, the soft-spoken Tracy lagged his birdie try down to tap-in range, and proceeded to close out a most-unlikely 30 on his back nine, good for a 5-under 66 and a 12-under 272 total.
The final-round 66, which tied the week’s low round, netted Tracy a two-shot win over Nelson, as well as the event’s $32,000 first-place prize.
“The money is definitely a plus. It’s been a great week,” said Tracy, the 2011 Western Amateur champion. “I didn’t get off to the best of starts today, but kept giving myself shots at birdie – and they began to fall on the back nine.”
The victory further continued a stellar year for Tracy, who added five additional top-10s to his 2014 resume after the Palmetto Hall win in February.
“I think I’ll probably pass out in the car. I’m just mentally drained,” said Tracy of the difficulty found between the towering trees at River Hills. “The combination of the long rough and the firm greens. You have to keep it in the fairway out here. If you’re not doing that, it’s hard to shoot even par.”
Even more special than the win may have been the fact that Tracy’s father Dan was on the bag throughout the week.
“He has saved up a number of vacation days for this, so it was great to have him on the bag,” said Tracy of his father, who is a full-time fireman back in Columbus. “He wants to do a few more going forward, so hopefully we can keep it going.”
Tracy will venture from Lake Wylie to Web.com Tour Q-School, all the while competing in eGolf’s Million Dollar Championship Series.
“I’m looking forward to rest of these, especially the Tour Championship at Palmetto Hall,” he said, referencing the identical site of his season-opening win, where the $300,000 conclusion to the season will unfold. “That finale takes place where I won earlier this year, so I feel like it sets up good for me.”
The runner-up, worth $17,000, marked yet another close call in a year full of them for Nelson.
The 36-year-old father of two entered the week with six top-10s on his resume this year, including a runner-up at the Spring Creek Classic earlier this month. All told, the former University of Portland star has notched 13 top-25 finishes in 13 starts this year, all the while amassing over $58,000 in single-season earnings.
Brand finished alone in third place, thanks to two birdies in his final three holes. The former Marshall University golfer reeled in $13,000 for his week.
eGolf West standout Ben Geyer of Arbuckle, CA closed in 67 to post 5-under 279, good for a two-way tie alongside former Stanford starAndrew Yun of Chandler, AZ.
Yun’s college career in Palo Alto was stellar from 2009 through 2013, with two wins and a career scoring average of 71.5 – third-best in the program’s storied history, trailing only Tiger Woods and 2014 Ben Hogan Award winner Patrick Rodgers. The two-time U.S. Palmer Cup team member earned “All-America” honors during three of his four years, including first-team honors in 2011.
· The tour would like to thank River Hills Country Club general manager Jim Sutton, head golf professional Gary Troyan, and T.J. Bridges, and the entire club staff for their outstanding help in conducting this tournament. A great job was done by River Hills head golf course superintendent Jason Bradley and his crew, who presented some of the best putting surfaces of the year, as well as a demanding and immaculate venue. Last but certainly not least, thank you to the members of River Hills for allowing the tour to have access to your course for the tournament week, and for your tireless efforts in volunteering and host housing.
· The tour will take next week off before returning to action for the 2nd of 4 stops in the inaugural Million Dollar Championship Series. The $225,000 Island View Casino Championship will take place on in Gulfport, Mississippi at Windance Country Club.
River Hills Championship
River Hills Country Club
Par 71; 6,743 yards
1. Ethan Tracy, Columbus, OH, $32,000.00, *70-70-66-66-272 -12
2. Ryan Nelson, Charleston, SC, $17,000.00, *68-70-69-67-274 -10
3. Christian Brand, Charleston, WV, $13,000.00, *70-66-70-71-277 -7
4. Ben Geyer, Arbuckle, CA, $9,000.00, *70-69-73-67-279 -5
4. Andrew Yun, Chandler, AZ, $9,000.00, *71-67-69-72-279 -5
6. Chris Gallagher, Charlotte, NC, $7,500.00, *68-68-69-76-281 -3
7. Abbie Valentine, Bayville, NY, $6,375.00, *71-68-70-73-282 -2
7. Seamus Power, Ireland, $6,375.00, *67-73-68-74-282 -2
9. Chris Thompson, Lawrence, KS, $5,500.00, *70-73-72-68-283 -1
10. Talor Gooch, Midwest City, OK, $5,125.00, *73-71-71-69-284 E
10. Tyler McCumber, Ponte Vedra Bch, FL, $5,125.00, *73-69-70-72-284 E
12. Ryan Dillon, Desert Hills, AZ, $4,500.00, *71-72-70-72-285 +1
12. Charles Bull, Kannapolis, NC, $4,500.00, *73-69-71-72-285 +1
12. Justin Smith, Queensland, Australia, $4,500.00, *71-72-69-73-285 +1
15. Will Collins, Salisbury, NC, $3,700.00, *74-71-70-71-286 +2
15. Matthew Ryan, Santa Clarita, CA, $3,700.00, *72-71-72-71-286 +2
15. Michael Letzig, Kansas City, MO, $3,700.00, *71-70-73-72-286 +2
15. Adam Stephenson, Greenville, NC, $3,700.00, *67-72-73-74-286 +2
19. Matt Schall, Charlotte, NC, $3,100.00, *73-72-68-74-287 +3
19. Drew Perry, Charlotte, NC, $3,100.00, *70-70-72-75-287 +3
19. Brandon Hagy, Westlake Village, CA, $3,100.00, *66-70-72-79-287 +3
22. Seth Reeves, Suwanee, GA, $2,750.00, *70-73-74-71-288 +4
22. Kyle Gallo, Berlin, CT, $2,750.00, *71-74-73-70-288 +4
22. Drew Weaver, Atlanta, GA, $2,750.00, *72-71-71-74-288 +4
22. Frank Adams III, Salisbury, NC, $2,750.00, *73-71-76-68-288 +4
26. Erick Justesen, San Jose, CA, $2,425.00, *69-74-74-72-289 +5
26. Travis Ross, Charlotte, NC, $2,425.00, *69-74-72-74-289 +5
26. Bruce McDonald, Mount Pleasant, SC, $2,425.00, *71-74-73-71-289 +5
26. Jonathon Krick, Phoenix, AZ, $2,425.00, *71-72-76-70-289 +5
30. Jesse Hutchins, Kirkersville, OH, $2,200.00, *70-68-78-74-290 +6
30. Ryan Gildersleeve, Clearwater, FL, $2,200.00, *72-72-71-75-290 +6
30. Brian Vranesh, Phoenix, AZ, $2,200.00, *71-73-73-73-290 +6
30. Corey Nagy, Charlotte, NC, $2,200.00, *72-71-72-75-290 +6
30. Dustin Bray, Charleston, SC, $2,200.00, *75-70-76-69-290 +6
35. Chris Gilman, Yorba Linda, CA, $1,950.00, *71-70-75-75-291 +7
35. Richard Lamb, South Bend, IN, $1,950.00, *73-70-73-75-291 +7
35. Josh Hart, Cordova, IL, $1,950.00, *75-68-75-73-291 +7
35. James Erkenbeck, San Diego, CA, $1,950.00, *73-72-75-71-291 +7
35. Vaita Guillaume, Papeete, Tahiti, $1,950.00, *74-69-80-68-291 +7
40. Ben Briscoe, Mobile, AL, $1,750.00, *71-72-74-75-292 +8
40. Amory Davis, Chadds Ford, PA, $1,750.00, *73-71-71-77-292 +8
40. Sam Love, Trussville, AL, $1,750.00, *72-70-77-73-292 +8
43. Sam Beach, Glen Allen, VA, $1,600.00, *70-74-72-77-293 +9
43. Luciano Dodda, Argentina, $1,600.00, *70-73-74-76-293 +9
43. Andrew Mason, Huntingdon Valley, PA, $1,600.00, *70-75-74-74-293 +9
46. Patrick Rada, Wilmington, NC, $1,475.00, *74-71-73-76-294 +10
46. Craig Barlow, Henderson, NV, $1,475.00, *71-74-75-74-294 +10
48. Mark Kriston, Clemmons, NC, $1,350.00, *71-73-74-77-295 +11
48. Stephen Hale, Bakersfield, CA, $1,350.00, *74-71-74-76-295 +11
48. Brett Lange, Atlanta, GA, $1,350.00, *72-73-77-73-295 +11
51. Preston Dembowiak, Greensboro, NC, $1,250.00, *73-69-75-79-296 +12
51. Ryan Sullivan, Winston-Salem, NC, $1,250.00, *74-71-73-78-296 +12
51. Jacob Burger, Orangeburg, SC, $1,250.00, *76-69-77-74-296 +12
54. Richard Fountain, Raleigh, NC, $1,190.00, *71-70-76-80-297 +13
54. Zach Edmondson, Morrisville, NC, $1,190.00, *71-72-81-73-297 +13
56. Sunny Kim, Palm Beach Gardens, FL, $1,150.00, *72-71-78-78-299 +15
56. Dykes Harbin, Augusta, GA, $1,150.00, *75-69-83-72-299 +15
58. John-Tyler Griffin, Wilson, NC, $1,130.00, *72-73-72-83-300 +16
59. Thomas Curtis, England, $1,120.00, *70-75-78-80-303 +19
60. Joshua Brock, Wilmington, NC, $1,110.00, *73-71-77-83-304 +20
JWD. Jack Fields, Southern Pines, NC, $1,110.00, *+5