It took until Sunday morning to complete my second round, but I felt great about my position at the half way point. I was six shots behind the leader, but I was feeling great about my game. I opened my third round on Sunday afternoon with a solid nine holes of 8 pars and a birdie before play was halted by darkness. When round three resumed on Monday morning, I birdied three of my first five holes, and I started to think that it could be a special day. I did a really nice job of staying in the present, though, and I closed my third round solidly enough with four consecutive pars.
There wasn't enough time between the end of round three and the start of round four to really think about where I was in the field, but I knew that I was within one or two shots of the lead. I was definitely excited and a little bit anxious, too. I walked to the first tee to begin my final round with a simple plan in mind. I wanted to stay composed and give myself a birdie putt on every hole. I darn near did that, too.
I hit the first four greens and rolled in birdie putts of about 15 feet on holes three and four. A poor second shot on the par-five fifth hole had me out of position, and though I hit the green with my third, I was a long way from the hole. After a decent lag putt, I hit my only poor short putt of the week and missed a three footer for my par. I was definitely surprised and a little bit rattled. I feel like I stayed in control of my emotions well, but unfortunately I missed the fairway on the par-four sixth and then missed the green way to the left. I was in trouble, but I hit a phenomenal third shot to give myself a long par putt. I missed the par, but the tap-in bogey was pretty good from where I had hit my second shot. After the back-to-back bogies, I did what I had done all week. I composed myself, hit a great shot on the par-three seventh, and rolled in a straight uphill 30-foot putt for birdie. Making that putt was a big turning point for me. From there, I played mostly great golf the rest of the way. I made birdies at 9, 11, and 12, and I knew I must be near the lead. I made a mess of the par-five 14th hole, but managed to get my third on the green and convert a long two-putt for par. I didn't know exactly where I stood, but I knew that I had a chance to do something really good with solid play down the stretch.
Over the final four holes, I hit every fairway and every green. I converted an up-and-down for birdie after hitting a great drive on the short par-four 15th and then converted solid two-putt pars on the final three holes. I didn't know where I stood until I approached the final green. I saw that I had a one shot lead, but knew that several players behind me could potentially still catch me. In any event, I knew that I had a straight-forward 50-foot putt, and I needed to hit a good one. I went through my routine, but felt funny standing over the ball. I backed off, thought about how great my life is, and walked into the putt again. I felt the pace and made a great stroke. The ball was on a good line, but pulled up about two-and-a-half feet short. I was definitely nervous over the last putt, but I was confident, too, and I rolled it right in the middle of the cup. What a great feeling that was!
I watched on tv as the last three groups played the final holes, and no one caught me. I won the tournament. Something big happened.
I'm still a little bit in awe. I knew that I was good enough to do it, but to be a PGA Tour winner feels a little surreal right now. There are obviously quite a few perks that come with this win, and I'll talk about those in another post soon, but I wanted to tell the exciting story of the big week!
Now, as promised, I still believe big(ger) things are in store. This is a milestone, and it's fantastic, but it is the beginning. Winning is fun, and I'd like to make a habit of it. I have a plan in place to do just that, and after another 22 hours or resting and enjoying this win, I'm going to get back to work in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, at the Mayakoba Classic.
The outpouring of support that Alicia and I have received is incredible. Thank you so much for caring about us and following this journey! Keep it here for more updates and some cool pictures from the win, too!