Ben Martin’s first PGA Tour win at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in Las Vegas didn’t exactly come out of nowhere. The third-year PGA Tour player finished 76th in the 2014 FedEx Cup standings, with three third-place finishes. Twice last season Martin led or shared the lead after 36 holes only to fall back on the weekend, with his third-round 71 at the RBC Heritage and his Saturday 73 at New Orleans dropping him from the top spot.
At TPC Summerlin, Martin used Saturday to his advantage, matching his career-best round with a 10-birdie 62 that jumped him from T-5 to the lead. He closed with a 68 Sunday to finish at 20-under 264, edging hard-charging Kevin Streelman by one stroke. Martin’s Saturday number was one of the best moving-day scores by a PGA Tour winner recent in recent years and one the best third-round scores the last 25 years in Las Vegas.
Lowest third-round scores by a PGA Tour winner: 2010-2014
|60||Carl Pettersson||2010 RBC Canadian Open|
|61||Scott Piercy||2011 Reno-Tahoe Open|
|62||Ben Martin||2014 Shriners Hospitals for Children Open|
|62||Jimmy Walker||2013 Frys.com Open|
|62||Nick Watney||2011 AT&T National|
|62||Steve Stricker||2010 John Deere Classic|
Best third-round scores in the Las Vegas Open: 1991-2014
|59*||Chip Beck||1991 (at Sunrise CC)||T-3|
|62*||John Cook||1992 (at TPC Summerlin)||Won|
|62*||Joel Edwards||2002 (at TPC Canyons)||T-9|
|62*||Lee Janzen||2002 (at TPC Canyons)||T-24|
|62*||Bob Estes||2002 (at Southern Highlands)||MC|
|62||Cameron Percy||2010 (at TPC Summerlin)||T-2|
|62||Ben Martin||2014 (at TPC Summerlin)||Won|
|62||Jimmy Walker||2014 (at TPC Summerlin)||T-4|
*Prior to 2004, the Las Vegas Open was a five-round tournament.
Memories in Vegas
What do Martin and Tiger Woods have in common? Like Martin, Woods got his first PGA Tour victory at Las Vegas, beating Davis Love III in a playoff in 1996. First-time winners weren’t uncommon in the 1990s, when the tournament was a five-round affair – Jim Furyk also hoisted his first trophy here in 1995 – but since the tournament went to four rounds (and became a fall series event), first-timers have been plentiful. Martin is the eighth player to make this event his first win in the last 11 years. Of that group, only Martin Laird, George McNeill and Troy Matteson have additional victories on the PGA Tour.
First-time winners on the PGA Tour at the Shriners: 2004-2014
|2005||Wes Short Jr.||1|
Martin was a U.S. Amateur finalist in 2009, losing in the final to Ben An at Southern Hills. He is the third U.S. Amateur runner-up since 2000 who has gone on to win on the PGA Tour. If that doesn’t sound like much, consider that only one U.S. Amateur champion since 2000 has won on Tour. (For comparison, five of the U.S. Amateur champs in the 1990s went on to win PGA Tour events. Only one runner-up in that time (Tom Scherrer) would win on Tour as a professional.)
U.S. Amateur finalists since 2000 with PGA Tour victories
|Player||PGA Tour wins||Amateur record|
|Ben Martin||2014 Shriners Hospitals Open||2009 U.S. Amateur runner-up|
|Michael Thompson||2013 Honda Classic||2007 U.S. Amateur runner-up|
|Ryan Moore||3 wins, most recent 2013 CIMB Classic||2004 U.S. Amateur champion|
|Hunter Mahan||6 wins, most recent 2014 Barclays||2002 U.S. Amateur runner-up|
Return to prominence
Defending champion Webb Simpson made a valiant effort at a second straight win in Las Vegas, shooting 15-under 268 to finish T-4, five strokes back of Martin. He is one of just four Vegas winners in the last 25 years to finish in the top 10 the following year. No player has won twice in a row since Jim Furyk in 1998 and 1999.
Defending champs at Las Vegas who finished in the top 10: 1990-2014
|Player||Victory year||Following year|
|Webb Simpson||2013||T-4, 2014|
|Ryan Moore||2012||T-9, 2013|
|Martin Laird||2009||T-2, 2010|
|Jim Furyk||1998||Won, 1999|
Simpson did shoot four rounds in the 60s at TPC Summerlin, giving him 13 such rounds in a row in Las Vegas. In addition to winning a year ago, he had four 60s in 2010 and finished with one in 2009. Simpson did not play the tournament in 2011 or 2012.
Webb Simpson’s career in the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open
Poor Kevin Streelman. With five birdies on the back nine Sunday, the former Duke star put pressure on Martin, before eventually finishing second, two strokes back of the winner. But anyone who was paying attention knew Streelman never had a chance. You see, Streelman shot an opening-round, even-par 71. No player with a round in the 70s has won at Las Vegas since Furyk in 1999. In fact, Streelman is the first player to finish second at the Shriners with a round in the 70s since Matt Kuchar in 2008. But Streelman’s weekend rounds are worth mentioning. His 63-65—128 are among the lowest scores at the Shriners on Saturday and Sunday.
Best final 36-hole scores at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open: 2000-2014
Tony Finau’s T-7 is also worth mentioning. The Web.com Tour graduate from Utah was making just his fifth PGA Tour start at Las Vegas. His first career top-10 finish came on the heels of a T-12 at the Frys.com Open one week earlier. Finau is one of six players to finish in the top 20 in each of the first two tournaments of the 2014-15 season. Last year seven players accomplished this feat - Robert Garrigus, J.J. Henry, Ryo Ishikawa, Will MacKenzie, Jeff Overton, Vijay Singh, and Jimmy Walker. Of that group, all but Henry qualified for the FedEx Cup playoffs.
Players with top 20 finishes at the first two events of the 2014-15 PGA Tour season