RENO, Nev. – Rocco Mediate can expect something special in the mail this week from longtime friend Matt Bettencourt.
Bettencourt said much of the credit for his one-stroke victory at the Reno-Tahoe Open on Sunday – his first PGA Tour win – goes to Mediate’s regular caddie Matthew Achatz, who carried Bettencourt’s bags this week while Mediate was working as a TV analyst at the British Open.
“Thank you, Rocco, for letting me use him,” Bettencourt said. “He kept me so relaxed all week and really made me believe in myself and my ability.”
“He’s seen it all. He went toe-to-toe with Tiger at Torrey Pines a few years ago,” he said about Woods’ victory over Mediate in a playoff at the 2008 U.S. Open. “So it was great to have him step in this week, and thanks to Rocco for being over at the British Open and commentating.”
Playing together, Heintz (69) missed a three-foot birdie putt on No. 18 that would have forced a playoff at Montreux Golf & Country Club on the edge of the Sierra.
The drama unfolded because Bettencourt hit his drive into a fairway bunker and his approach into a greenside trap after Heintz had stiffed his second shot.
Bettencourt said Aschatz told him, “`Look, he’s got an easy putt, there’s no chance he’s going to miss it. Let’s regroup. Go out and we’ll hit a much smarter tee shot on 18 and we’ll go make birdie in the playoff.”’
“He calmed me down and that’s what I was ready to do, ready to go back and give it my best,” said Bettencourt, who ended up with a bogey on the last hole but won when Heintz missed his putt.
“My heart goes out to Bob. He’s fought so hard. He hit a good putt, it just didn’t go in and fortunately it was my time,” he said.
In addition to the $540,000 winner’s check, Bettencourt earned a spot for the first time in next month’s PGA Championship and is guaranteed his place on tour through 2012.
“This win is so incredible to me. It gives me so many opportunities,” said Bettencourt, who won the money title on the Nationwide Tour in 2008 and tied for 10th at the U.S. Open last year. He finished 111th on the PGA money list with $740,037 that year.
Heintz started the week trying to qualify for a Nationwide Tour event in Ohio before he was notified he’d qualified for this event, hopping a plane to Nevada on Tuesday. A 40-year-old graduate of Yale with a degree in economics, he was pleased to come away with $324,000 for second.
“I think it’s my biggest check ever,” Heintz said. “I kind of played like the Bob of old where my survival instincts kicked in and my short game was just shy of brilliant all day. I holed out three times from off the green.”
John Merrick and Mathias Gronberg each shot 69 and tied for third at 9 under.
Robert Gamez (68), Kent Jones (68), Alex Cejka (69), Kevin Stadler (70) and Craig Barlow (72) all finished another stroke back at 8 under.
Scott McCarron, a former Reno resident and Montreux member who served as the tournament host, started the day at 10 under with a one-stroke lead over John Mallinger and Robert Garrigus. But he fell to a tie for 35th at 1 under with five bogeys and two double-bogeys on the way to an 81.
Mallinger had a quadruple-bogey 9 on the 616-yard 9th – dropping twice from unplayable lies after driving wide left into the trees and sage brush. He shot 77 and tied for 21st.