by Zachary Weiss
In many sports, scoreboard watching occurs out of habit, but Web.com Tour golfer Ben Martin did not even know how close he was to winning the fourth annual Mylan Classic at Southpointe Golf Club in Canonsburg, Pa., until the final moments.
“Once I hit my shot in there, I asked my caddy Derrick Redd if we had to do anything special,” Martin said. “He said, ‘just don’t let me putt. You can go ahead and make it if you want to win by five.’”
Martin would make the putt, winning by five strokes over Kelly Kraft and moving up to second on the Web.com Tour money list, around $34,000 behind Michael Putnam. Earlier in the back nine, the victory was not a sure thing as Kraft was battling back, possibly motivated by another golfer.
Kraft did just that, although three bogeys halted his momentum. Because of Kraft’s birdie barrage, Martin’s lead – which was four strokes coming into the round – was down to just two. Martin then headed to the 15th hole, the same hole on which he chipped in for eagle last week in Boise.
“I had that thought in my head that you chipped in last week, why not do it again,” Martin said.
Martin’s “huge” chip found the cup for an eagle and despite a bogey on the following hole, made a quick recovery to birdie his final two holes to secure the win.
Inside the ropes:
Wheatcroft confused about next step
Steve Wheatcroft still has a large following locally. He was born in Indiana, Pa., and by his own measure has played Southpointe Golf Club hundreds of times.
To many it was no surprise that he shot 5 under par in the first round to put himself a shot behind the lead. Following that, he dealt with a foot injury he obtained in the second round and started to fall back from the leaderboard. He finished 46th for the tournament at 3 over par.
“This year (at the Mylan Classic) was just embarrassing,” Wheatcroft said. “You shoot 6 under (after two rounds). I was very unhappy with the second round. I shoot even par and I’m at least in the top 10.
“I shot nine over (on the weekend), that’s ridiculous. I feel like I’m making strides and then I got out and do this. It’s a big emotional letdown, let’s put it that way.”
Wheatcroft said his foot injury made it tough to walk and it showed in his game including a triple bogey on the sixth hole.
“I drive it down, it’s in the deepest rough of the golf course,” Wheatcroft said. “I hit the second shot about seven yards. I hit my next shot heavy right into the water. If you hit fairways, you don’t have these problems. I’m not playing very good golf I guess.”
Because of the injury, Wheatcroft is unsure if he will rest and prepare for the Web.com Tour playoffs and accept he’s “not going to make the top 25 right now” or “keep trying to play and possibly wear myself out.”
Currently Wheatcroft is 47th on the Web.com money list. The top 25 automatically qualify for the PGA Tour next year.
Swafford gains exposure
Hudson Swafford is in his second year on the Web.com Tour and by shooting 5 under at the Mylan Classic finished in a tie for 10th.“
The greens were fast and were spinning,” Swafford said. “It made things challenging. You had to be patient and strike where you could.”
In this month’s Golf Digest, Swafford had a page long feature along with three other Web.com players, promoting the tour. All four players posed for several pictures both serious and on the more humorous side.
Swafford reflected on the experience” “It was a little out there, but it was fun. I did it with a couple of good guys and I really enjoyed it. Anytime you get to promote yourself, especially in this game, it helps a lot.”
Relentless Rousey overcomes tough start
All golfers are used to a slow starts. After starting his final round at 3 over after two holes, Nick Rousey had to find a way to overcome his troubles.
“My caddy was giving me a pep talk and I reminded him that I’ve been playing for 10 years and I’ve had these starts before,” Rousey said. “I just tried to quit making mistakes and take advantage if I happen to hit good shots.”
He kick started his round with a birdie on the fourth hole and shot 2 under par for the round, tying for third place at 7 under overall.
Kim gets back in top 25
Earlier in the week, I profiled South Korean golfer Whee Kim. He played the Korean Open with Rickie Fowler and Rory McIlroy and placed third.
Kim held the lead at the Mylan Classic after two rounds before shooting 4 over on the weekend to tie for third place, 10 shots behind Ben Martin.
“It could be better, but I had one big mistake,” Kim said. “I tried to play my game, but I didn’t.”
Despite the setback, Kim is back to 23rd on the money list after several weeks of missing cuts, meaning soon he very well may be rejoining Fowler and McIlroy on the golf course.
They said it:
Ben Martin on advice he received before the final round: “Charles Warren texted me last night and said to shoot the lowest score out of anyone and you’ll be okay.”
Current top 25 on Web.com Tour:
Michael Putnam $430,684, Ben Martin $396,249, Chesson Hadley $305,999, Edward Loar $300,471, Will Wilcox $232,050, Kevin Tway $221,819, Alex Aragon $216,041, Mark Anderson $208,134, Tim Wilkinson $197,836, Jamie Lovemark $178,421, Danny Lee $169,300, Kevin Kisner $158,004, Benjamin Alvarado $157,304, Alex Prugh $155,667, Brandon Todd $152,828, Jim Renner $152,248, Brice Garnett $146,410, Kevin Foley $141,272, Mathew Goggin $137,477, Patrick Cantlay $135,105, Steven Alker $130,302, Scott Parel $128,957, Whee Kim $128,718, Wes Roach $127,898, Ashley Hall $126,833