Entering Sunday’s final round, Greg Owen and Fabian Gomez were tied for the lead at 9-under and both golfers would have their nerves tested as they looked for their first win at a PGA TOUR event. Both golfers had a solid front nine, both with a bogey and two birdies, but it was Gomez that would limit his mistakes on the back nine to grab his first PGA TOUR victory.
The FedEx St. Jude Classic used to be one of the lowest scoring tournaments on TOUR since it has been held at TPC Southwind, but that changed after renovations in 2004. The course was lengthened and a number of obstacles were added, such as trees and bunkers, making things a little more difficult. The renovations seemed to work because TPC Southwind is now one of the more complicating tracks on TOUR.
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With water coming into play on half of the holes at TPC Southwind, Owen saw his share of the lead fade on the 11th hole. Gomez made birdie to take the outright lead and put some pressure on Owen. Hitting his tee shot in the drink on the 12th hole, the 43-year old Englishman would make bogey and then made another two holes later on the 14th to drop to 8-under. After hitting one in the water on 12, Owen let his emotions get the best of him and broke his 3-wood with seven holes to play.
Meanwhile, it was Fabian Gomez who would take advantage of Owen’s mishaps to cruise to victory. Gomez played very consistent golf throughout his round, keeping the ball in play and hitting fairways and greens, which is the recipe for success at a course like TPC Southwind. With no one really putting any pressure on him, Gomez was able to string together a bogey-free back nine, which included two birdies, as he donned the blue and white seersucker jacket given to the winner every year.
The FedEx St. Jude Classic is an event which is usually dominated by American players, seeing as how only five of the event have come from outside of the United States, but Gomez added his name to that list. In the process of winning, Fabian also became only the fifth golfer from Argentina to win on the TOUR. Gomez entered this week at the 288th ranked golfer in the world, but will surely hop up the OWGR with his maiden victory.
Phil Mickelson has found some success by entering tournaments the week before a major and he continued that trend this weekend in Memphis. Not only does he like to play the week before majors, Lefty also likes to put himself in contention. Mickelson started strong and finished even stronger, entering the clubhouse with the low score of the day of 65. Phil had eight birdies on the day and could have had an even better score if it wasn’t for his run in with the 12th hole. Mickelson got a little too aggressive on the tee and put one in the water, eventually getting a bogey on the hole.
Phil also reminded us why he always a crowd favorite no matter where he as he was walking off the 18th green on Sunday. Moments after draining his lengthy birdie putt, Mickelson walked over to a little girl standing on the side of the green, who happened to be a patient at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and said “We’re wishing you the best of luck. You’ve got a lot of people pulling for you.” He proceeded to sign his caddie’s bib, a ball, and his glove and gave it to the girl. Mickelson didn’t stop there. He then encouraged the crowd to give her a standing ovation as she walked off the green. Hats off to you, Lefty.
The boys head to Chambers Bay this week as America’s great major gets underway at the U.S. Open. Maybe Mickelson’s act of kindness will be enough for the golf gods to give him the career grand slam. Then again, it’s not going to be your traditional U.S. Open, which is why anything can happen.