Beginning the day with a two-shot edge, Uresti, who is a full-time member on the PGA Tour and played this week on a sponsors exemption, avoided any drama Sunday with a final-round 5-under 65 at Barton Creeks Crenshaw Cliffside course. The Texan came in with a four-day total of 16-under 264, five shots in front of Canadians Derek Gillespie and Rob McMillan.
Craig Matthew of Montreal wound up third with Aussie Ben Bunny and Californian Brian Guetz at minus-10.
Rookie Tom Johnson fired a 9-under 61, one shot shyof Gillespies course record set Thursday, to jump from 45th all the way to seventh while five-time PGA Tour champion Blaine McCallister closed with a 62 to grab a share of tenth with four others.
It was Urestis first win since 1994 when he was a member of what is now known as the Nationwide Tour. That day at the Shreveport Open, Uresti reeled off a Tour-record nine straight birdies, a benchmark that still stands to this day. So far this year, Uresti has made four of six cuts on the PGA Tour with a best showing of 26th at the Chrysler Classic of Tucson.
Sunday also marked the fourth consecutive season that a player participating on a sponsors exemption finished atop the leaderboard in a Canadian Tour event. Pablo del Olmo began the streak with a win at the 2002 Michelin Ixtapa Classic followed by Canadian amateur standout James Lepp and Nick Watney in 2003. Last year, Stephen Gangluff used an exemption to win the Lewis Chitengwa Memorial Championship.
This was great for the confidence, said Uresti. Its been eleven years since I won, so maybe this is what I need. Anytime you can win a tournament, wherever it is, it is going to help you.
Uresti birdied his opening hole of the day and made the turn at 2-under to build a three-shot edge and never looked back on the inbound nine. Even as McMillan was attempting to beat down the door, Uresti just kept slamming it shut. The 36-year-old just missed rolling in an eagle putt from the fringe on the par-4 14th and rubber-stamped the triumph with a birdie on the following hole.
After waiting on the 14th tee for the group ahead to play out, Uresti struck up a conversation with playing partners David Hearn and John Mallinger, talking hockey and college hoops. The delay did not get Uresti off his game as the 36-year-old drove the green and two-putted for birdie.
We had to wait there for a while, and I ended up hitting a perfect tee shot, said Uresti, who lit it up for rounds of 63-73-63-65 this week. I think that was the shot of the day for me. I had been keeping an eye on the leaderboards off and on all afternoon; these guys out here can play. That shot gave me some breathing room and I was able to bring it home.
Gillespie ended an up and down week on a high with a final-round 66, helped along by an eagle and two birdies over his final five holes. But coming off a course-record 60 in the opening round, the 26-year-old Oshawa, Ont. native, who at one point Friday had a six-shot lead, knows he may have let one get away from him this week.
I dont know whats going on right now, said Gillespie. My game is up and down like a Slinky. I guess it is just part of the game. Even on the front side today, I missed some putts or I could have been really low. But at least I was able to bounce back.
Like Gillespie, McMillan began the day four shots back of Uresti and simply ran out of holes before he could make a charge Sunday. Had it not been for an unfortunate break late Saturday, perhaps it would have been a different ending for the three-time Tour champion.
As the third round was closing out, lightning touched down in the Austin area just as McMillan, playing in the final group of the day with Gillespie and Brian Guetz, hit his tee shot the on the final hole. Once play resumed, McMillan saw his shot had landed in a large divot on the fairway, leaving him with virtually no approach. His next shot found the hazard short of the green and McMillan ended up making double-bogey.
You tend to think about things like that after the fact, he admitted. But it was just a bad break. Theres not much you can do about it. You tend to say to yourself, Man, if I could only have that one back. But it was a good week, and hopefully I can build on the momentum.