|.Carolina Golf News Line|
|Defending Champion Matt Davidson Sheds
Bridesmaid Finishes and Claims Tour Championship Title
Southern Pines, NC – Defending champion Matt Davidson entered the final round of the eGolf Tour Championship in a three-way tie for the lead with Lee Williams and Jess Daley. Throughout the 2009 season, Davidson had flirted with victory but had often come up just short. Three runner-up finishes left a padded bank account and an empty trophy case for the former Furman University standout. Eighteen holes in the final round left a three-way playoff. Five playoff holes left Matt Davidson as the last man standing, a bridesmaid no more.
Beginning the day at 10-under 131, the final pairing of Davidson, Williams and Daley stood on the first tee of the famed Pine Needles Resort and looked to end their eGolf Tour seasons on top, with an extra $45,000 in their wallets. Through nine holes, it was Davidson who was making his presence felt atop the leaderboard. Birdies at Nos. 2, 3 and 9 took the Chapel Hill, NC resident to 13-under for the tournament and one shot clear of Williams – two shots clear of Daley. But just as quickly as he stepped on the gas, Davidson managed to put on the brakes.
“I played so good on the front, and then all of a sudden on the back nine I just kind of stalled out,” said Davidson, who ended a streak of four pars on 10-13 with a bogey at the 14th.
Davidson’s bogey at No. 14 was met with matching birdies by Williams and Daley at the par-5 15th.
“I was starting to play tentative,” said Davidson. “I missed some good putts short, just not wanting to run them by. After I bogeyed 14, Lee was playing well and Jess was playing well – then they passed me.”
Williams’ birdie at 15 gave him sole possession of the lead over both Davidson and Daley with just three holes to play.
A dramatic 25-foot birdie putt by Daley set him and Williams up for a final-hole showdown, both tied at 13-under for the event – with Davidson lurking one shot behind.
A tricky back right hole location greeted the threesome at Pine Needles’ stellar finishing hole, but cold, wet conditions left an otherwise treacherous approach more docile with a softer green.
All three players hit their approach shots within 20 feet of the hole, but when Williams and Daley both missed their attempts, it set up a make-it-or-go-home birdie try by Davidson – and he did not disappoint.
“That putt was center cut the whole way,” said Davidson, whose dramatic closing hole birdie forced a three-man playoff. “I thought it might not have had enough speed, but it finally got there.”
On the first playoff hole, the par-4 18th, Daley was eliminated with a three-putt bogey from nearly 60 feet on the front of the green. Davidson and Williams both managed two putts, and the surviving twosome went to the par-5 first to continue the extra session.
After both players missed the green with their approaches, the extra-hole session came down to a battle of short games, with each confronting a different obstacle.
Davidson, having pulled his approach in the left bunker, was left with a simple downhill blast that allowed for golf’s classic “chunk and run,” where the player splashes the ball out and watches it run to the hole. For Williams, who short sided himself on the right side of the green, a simplistic pitch up the hill would suffice.
When Davidson’s bunker shot came up 10 feet short, Williams hit a delicate pitch shot to 6 feet and set up a possible game winner.
As Davidson’s putt slid past the hole, the limited daylight crept lower and lower – drowning beneath the swarm of pine trees lining the resort. Williams looked to seize the moment and end the lengthy day, but a cruel lip out shattered his hopes and sent the two players onward to the par-4 second.
“I saw Matt putt in front of me and his didn’t turn, so I played it a bit less than he did and it still didn’t turn,” said Williams, an Alexander City, AL native. “I hit a great putt. I thought I made it.”
Matching pars at Nos. 2 and 3 brought in serious doubt about whether the two would be able to continue as the local time hit 6:24 PM. Head Rules Official Bob Beasley approached Davidson and Williams on the green of the par-3 third, and the decision was made to keep going. As with most top athletes, when you’re in the heat of battle, suspending adrenaline for a morning restart seems like an idea better suited to losers – not winners. With almost zero light remaining, the two went for one more try at the par-4 fourth.
Davidson, hitting first, pushed his tee shot into the right rough, while Williams blasted yet another driver right down the middle. Both players hit their approaches to the center of the green, with Davidson’s settling to 25 feet and Williams’ to about 17.
As spectators and officials questioned whether or not the playoff would ever end, Davidson stood over a slick downhill putt and watched helplessly as it took off like a rocket.
“He hit that thing and my first thought was, ‘That better get down,’” said Williams. “It got down alright – down in the hole.”
A birdie attempt looking like a set-up pitcher for a 6-foot par putt slammed the back of the hole, and out of nowhere Davidson was the first to strike.
“I hit it pretty hard, and then it looked like it had a chance of going in the hole,” said Davidson. “I got pretty lucky there.”
It was now Williams’ turn at a tying putt. A two-time Walker Cup selection as an amateur, this was not his first go around with pressure putts. Known as one of the best putters on tour, Williams calmly stroked the left-edge putt and watched as it ran out of speed and missed on the bottom right.
Four top-3 finishes, over $93,000 in earnings – the steady-yet-winless year for Davidson came to a dramatic halt. Again, he was a champion.
“It’s awesome. A few of those runner-up finishes, I never felt in contention,” he said after the round, lit by the spotlights that now kept the resort free from darkness. “It’s fun to be in the mix like that the whole back nine. That’s what it’s all about.”
A PGA TOUR player in 2005, Davidson joked that the $138,269 he accumulated on the eGolf Tour this year was more than he made on the big tour as a rookie. The win, with PGA TOUR Q-School on the horizon, gives Davidson a bountiful supply of confidence heading into the dreaded “fall classic,” where countless pros pony up $4,500 for their chance at TOUR stardom.
“I think it’s nice to have a pressurized situation like that going into Q-School,” said Davidson. “Usually in Q-School, you start to feel emotions that you don’t normally feel, so if you can experience it before you get there, that’s definitely a plus.”
Williams and Daley each earned $18,500 for their T2 finishes. The runner-up efforts matched the best of their careers on the eGolf Tour. Both players are headed straight to the first stage of PGA TOUR Q-School as well, with Daley hoping to earn his way back to his playing ground in 2002 as a TOUR rookie.
Chris Baker and Fernando Mechereffe tied for fourth at 11-under 201, with each player earning $10,500 for their efforts.
For Davidson, a second straight win at the season-ending Tour Championship confirmed yet again that he is one of the best players on any tour when the stakes are at their highest. Steady and consistent, Davidson rarely beats himself and often outworks his opponents. A Tom Kite, if you will, who does not win off of brute strength and imposing size, but rather by outthinking his only opponent – the golf course.
“I don’t know what it is about this tournament or golf in the fall, I
guess knowing that Q-School is on the horizon just makes you more relaxed since
you know what’s coming up next,” said Davidson. “I don’t know. It’s a
good trend though – I like it.”
Pine Needles Resort
Par 71; 7,015 yards
Mid Pines Resort
Par 70; 6,528 yards
1. x-Matt Davidson, Chapel Hill, NC, $45,000.00, *68-63-68-199 -13
2. Jess Daley, Palm Beach Gardens, FL, $18,500.00, *64-67-68-199 -13
2. Lee Williams, Alexander City, AL, $18,500.00, *64-67-68-199 -13
4. Chris Baker, Brownstown, IN, $10,500.00, *68-69-64-201 -11
4. Fernando Mechereffe, Charlotte, NC, $10,500.00, *64-72-65-201 -11
6. Andrew Medley, Athens, AL, $8,333.33, *67-70-65-202 -10
6. Frank Adams III, Salisbury, NC, $8,333.33, *68-68-66-202 -10
6. Scott Stallings, Oak Bridge, TN, $8,333.33, *68-68-66-202 -10
9. Matt Hendrix, Reston, VA, $5,550.00, *70-67-66-203 -9
9. Matt Mincer, Knoxville, TN, $5,550.00, *68-70-65-203 -9
9. Cameron Yancey, Blackstone, VA, $5,550.00, *68-65-70-203 -9
9. Kevin Kisner, Aiken, SC, $5,550.00, *68-66-69-203 -9
13. Jonathan Moore, Vancouver, WA, $4,300.00, *66-72-66-204 -8
13. Scott Weatherly, Fort Payne, AL, $4,300.00, *69-70-65-204 -8
13. Jonathan Fricke, Covington, GA, $4,300.00, *65-70-69-204 -8
13. Tommy Gibson, Pilot Mountain, NC, $4,300.00, *65-68-71-204 -8
13. Dane Burkhart, Aiken, SC, $4,300.00, *66-69-69-204 -8
13. Lee Williamson, Roswell, GA, $4,300.00, *66-69-69-204 -8
19. Scott Brown, North Augusta, SC, $3,316.67, *72-65-68-205 -7
19. David Lutterus, Australia, $3,316.67, *70-67-68-205 -7
19. Ryan Dillon, Desert Hills, AZ, $3,316.67, *69-68-68-205 -7
19. Rob Grube, Palo Alto, CA, $3,316.67, *68-67-70-205 -7
19. Danny Ellis, Heathrow, FL, $3,316.67, *67-72-66-205 -7
19. Philip Pettitt, Murfreesboro, TN, $3,316.67, *66-66-73-205 -7
19. Steve Gangluff, Ponte Vedra Beach, FL, $3,316.67, *67-69-69-205 -7
19. Michael Henderson, Orlando, FL, $3,316.67, *67-69-69-205 -7
19. Trevor Murphy, Scottsdale, AZ, $3,316.67, *66-68-71-205 -7
28. Chad Wilfong, Thomasville, NC, $2,850.00, *71-67-68-206 -6
28. Colin Biles, Columbus, OH, $2,850.00, *70-68-68-206 -6
28. Chris Rogers, Nashville, TN, $2,850.00, *66-70-70-206 -6
28. Jake Grodzinsky, Phoenix, AZ, $2,850.00, *65-71-70-206 -6
28. Tim O'Neal, Savannah, GA, $2,850.00, *66-68-72-206 -6
33. Aaron Goldberg, Carlsbad, CA, $2,525.00, *69-68-70-207 -5
33. Jay Haas, Greenville, SC, $2,525.00, *69-69-69-207 -5
33. David Skinns, England, $2,525.00, *70-67-70-207 -5
33. Ryan Carter, Hacienda Heights, CA, $2,525.00, *65-73-69-207 -5
33. Emmett Turner, Augusta, GA, $2,525.00, *68-71-68-207 -5
33. Nate Lashley, Scottsdale, AZ, $2,525.00, *70-69-68-207 -5
33. Chris Gallagher, Charlotte, NC, $2,525.00, *66-73-68-207 -5
33. Will McGirt, Boiling Springs, SC, $2,525.00, *68-71-68-207 -5
41. Nathan Stamey, Bluffton, SC, $2,150.00, *68-69-71-208 -4
41. Kyle Dobbs, Tequesta, FL, $2,150.00, *72-66-70-208 -4
41. Keven Fortin-Simard, Quebec, QC, $2,150.00, *68-70-70-208 -4
41. Stephen Poole, Aiken, SC, $2,150.00, *71-67-70-208 -4
41. Jonas Enander Hedin, Stockholm, Sweden, $2,150.00, *68-71-69-208 -4
41. Garrett Jones, Rewey, WI, $2,150.00, *70-69-69-208 -4
41. Cortland Lowe, Charlotte, NC, $2,150.00, *72-67-69-208 -4
48. Tim Hegarty, Briarcliff Manor, NY, $1,801.43, *67-70-72-209 -3
48. Ryan Linton, Pinehurst, NC, $1,801.43, *69-69-71-209 -3
48. Hank Kim, Jonesboro, GA, $1,801.43, *65-72-72-209 -3
48. Ben Briscoe, Mobile, AL, $1,801.43, *62-75-72-209 -3
48. Tyler Brown, Ponte Vedra Beach, FL, $1,801.43, *67-71-71-209 -3
48. Scott Harrington, Portland, OR, $1,801.43, *69-67-73-209 -3
48. David Robinson, Sandersville, GA, $1,801.43, *70-69-70-209 -3
55. John Elliott, Westerly, RI, $1,482.00, *67-70-73-210 -2
55. Jay McLuen, Athens, GA, $1,482.00, *66-71-73-210 -2
55. Nick Rousey, Pensacola, FL, $1,482.00, *67-71-72-210 -2
55. Tim Cantwell, Palm Beach Gardens, FL, $1,482.00, *70-68-72-210 -2
55. Matt Crenshaw, Elon, NC, $1,482.00, *63-74-73-210 -2
55. Derek Gillespie, Ontario, Canada, $1,482.00, *65-71-74-210 -2
55. Jonathan Turcott, Middleton, WI, $1,482.00, *70-66-74-210 -2
55. James Gilleon, Franklin, NH, $1,482.00, *68-71-71-210 -2
55. Tim Schaetzel, Atlanta, GA, $1,482.00, *67-68-75-210 -2
55. Brad Klapprott, Lakeland, FL, $1,482.00, *67-72-71-210 -2
65. Martin Ureta, Chapel Hill, NC, $1,360.00, *68-70-73-211 -1
66. Mike Van Sickle, Wexford, PA, $1,300.00, *72-66-74-212 E
66. Andrew Parr, Canada, $1,300.00, *70-68-74-212 E
66. Andy Bare, West End, NC, $1,300.00, *71-68-73-212 E
66. Steve Ford, Melbourne FL, $1,300.00, *67-72-73-212 E
66. Zack Byrd, Calabash, NC, $1,300.00, *69-70-73-212 E
71. Peter Karmis, South Africa, $1,240.00, *70-69-74-213 +1
72. Todd Murphy, Phoenix, AZ, $1,210.00, *66-70-78-214 +2
72. Chip Lynn, Hope Mills, NC, $1,210.00, *67-72-75-214 +2
74. Doug Manchester, Charlotte, NC, $1,180.00, *69-69-77-215 +3
75. Jeremy Pope, Pawleys Island, SC, $1,150.00, *67-70-79-216 +4
75. John Saari, Lilburn, GA, $1,150.00, *74-63-79-216 +4
77. Kyle McCarthy, South Pasadena, FL, $1,120.00, *69-69-80-218 +6