5 Things: Hadley wins Puerto Rico for 1st Tour title
Sunday, March 9, 2014
RIO GRANDE, Puerto Rico –– Rookie Chesson Hadley nearly skipped the Puerto Rico Open. He’s happy he changed his mind after shooting a 67 in the final round for his first PGA Tour victory.
Hadley, 26, shot a tournament-record, 21-under 267 and notched a two-stroke win over Danny Lee.
“It’s incredible, a dream come true,” said Hadley.
Yet, just a week ago, Hadley shot a 3-over 75 in the first round of the Honda Classic and went back to his hotel room in a foul mood.
“I just let it out,” he said. “I had enough. I was sick and tired of playing like an idiot.”
He considered withdrawing from Puerto Rico, but decided to sleep on it. Good thing he did because he made the cut and his golf was suddenly better.
“That just shows you how quickly it can change,” Hadley said. “You can never give up.”
Here are 5 Things you need to know from the final round of the Puerto Rico Open:
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1. TURNING POINT: The shot of the day for Hadley took place at the par-5, fifth hole. It ranked as the easiest hole all week, but it threatened to derail Hadley’s round.
Facing a 52-degree wedge shot from the fairway, Hadley looked at the pin tucked three paces from the left edge, stood over the ball and said he thought “pulling it would be a really bad idea here.” He did just that, and left himself shortsided with a delicate chip. He chose a lob wedge and as soon as it landed on the green it started tracking to the hole.
His wife Amanda, in the gallery, yelled, “Go in.” The ball listened, catching the left edge for an eagle.
“My caddie owes me $20 for that,” Hadley said. “I was just trying to give myself a chance. Thank you to the superintendent for mowing it just so. I hit the nastiest, nippiest shot you’ve ever seen in your life.”
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2. NERVOUS LEE: Danny Lee will be the first to admit it – he was nervous entering Sunday's final round.
"I didn't really sleep at all," Lee said. "I woke up at 5:30 in the morning (for) no reason. I guess I was really nervous and I think because of that I wasn't playing my best at the first nine holes."
Lee bogeyed Nos. 7 and 8, and shot even par on the front nine to make the turn four shots behind Hadley. But he rallied late with five birdies, including at Nos. 15, 16 and 18.
The performance didn't earn Lee, the 2008 U.S. Amateur champ, his first PGA Tour victory, but it did give him the best Tour finish of his career – Lee's only other top 10 came at the 2009 AT&T National. He'll also earn an exemption into next week's Valspar Championship in Palm Harbor, Fla.
"I am a little bit disappointed," Lee said. "I felt like I really played good this week, and I was making good putts, good shots, a lot of good shots. And I was making good up‑and‑downs, but I did all I could do, so I'm pleased with solo second, and I'm just really happy I'm playing next week."
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3. SLEEPING IN ON MONDAY: Ben Martin began the final round of the Puerto Rico Open in a tie for 10th place and with the knowledge that he had a 9:15 a.m. tee time at the Valspar Championship Monday Qualifier in Tampa, Fla. Not anymore.
He can sleep late after securing a spot in next week’s field by carding a 6-under 66 to finish at 17 under.
Martin finished alone in third, his best career finish on the PGA Tour, and his first top 10 since 2011. Martin had ben off for three weeks and visited with his coach, Charles Frost, the head instructor at Quail Hollow Country Club in Charlotte, N.C.
“It was good for my game to regroup,” said Martin, who snapped a string of three straight missed cuts. “He got me hitting the fade I like to hit and I’m just hoping I can use this week as a springboard for the rest of the year.”
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4. HOMA'S SPEED ROUND: Who says the PGA Tour has a pace of play problem? Not rookie Max Homa.
The former California star teed off first as a single at 7:40 a.m. and tapped in for a 3-over 75 just 1 hour and 58 minutes later, just shy of the Tour’s record for the fastest round.
“We heard 1 hour 56 minutes was the record so we decided to go for it,” he said after catching his breath.
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5. SHORT SHOTS: David Toms tied for fourth to pick up his first top 10 of the season and his first top 10 since last year's PGA Championship. . . . Jason Gore also tied for fourth, notching his first top 10 on the PGA Tour since the 2009 U.S. Bank Championship. . . . Wes Roach's T-4 finish was his first top 10 on Tour in seven career starts. . . . Lee, Martin, Roach, Gore and Ricky Barnes earned exemption's into next week's Valspar Championship. . . . . Jhonattan Vegas, who finished solo 69th in Puerto Rico, will withdraw from the Valspar Championship with an illness.
– Brentley Romine contributed to this report
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