Playing in just his sixth tour event, rookie Patrick Damron put the finishing touches on a wire-to-wire triumph with a final round 2-under 68 at historic Royal Colwood GC, one of the gem courses in Canada. His 72-hole total of 11-under 269 was one shot better than longtime Canadian standout Richard Zokol and former U.S. Amateur runner-up Robert Hamilton. Aussie David McKenzie fired a final-round 64 to wind up tied for fourth with sponsors exemption Steve Schneiter.
Just as Damron tapped in his par putt on the final hole to seal his first professional win, the champagne glasses were likely raised wherever the family clan had gathered to watch Sundays final round live on The Golf Channel. Just a couple of hours earlier but three time zones away, Patricks older brother Robert had finished seventh at the PGA Tours Greater Hartford Open.
This is by far the biggest thing I have ever won, and I look forward to sharing it with him, beamed Damron Sunday. Everyone knows he is my brother, but no one can really understand how close we are. We talked on the phone (Saturday) night, just the normal stuff brothers talk about. He has obviously proved himself, but hopefully when I am 30 well have a lot of things in common that way. I cant tell you how great that would be. I dont have any problem being called his little brother.
For a brief spell Sunday, it looked liked Damron was going to let a four-shot cushion slip away. After going 3-under on the front side to get to 12-under for the tournament, Damron, like he did Saturday, stumbled after making the turn. Twenty four hours after three consecutive bogeys on numbers 10, 11 and 12 allowed the field to get back in the hunt, Damron couldnt save par on 12 and the par 5 14th, which allowed Hamilton to pull even. Zokol, playing two groups in front, was making his move coming in and a birdie on the 17th got him to 10-under and gave the leaders something to think about.
An errant tee shot on the final hole left Zokol, a PGA Tour champion himself, with an uphill battle to save par but he was able to drain the 10-footer to get in the clubhouse unscathed. A Hamilton bogey on the 15th gave Damron his one shot lead back, and he never looked in his review mirror again. Hitting his approach shot from 192 yards on the par-4 final hole, Damron nailed a 7-iron to within 12-feet before two-putting from the fringe for the winner's check. Seconds earlier, Hamilton had caused a few hearts to skip a beat when his 50-foot birdie try from off the green rolled to within six inches of the cup.
I didnt think it had the speed, but then I got nervous when it just kept rolling and rolling, laughed Damron, referring to Hamiltons putt. I didnt even watch it at the end. I really had no desire to pass out. But I thought I was playing well enough to win. The back nine (Saturday) really woke me up -- I knew I had a big lead and almost lost it. It goes to show you anything is possible.
Playing in his first Canadian Tour event in three seasons, Zokol, who began the day five shots back of the leaders, created a little drama for the lively crowd of 3,000 that enjoyed sunny skies and mild temperatures Sunday. When his par putt dropped into the hole on the 18th, a huge roar swept throughout Royal Colwood, and both Hamilton and Damron likely had a peek at the leaderboard to see what had happened two holes in front of them.
That was a huge putt, and it is at least going to give me a chance, said Zokol as he watched the final groups come in from behind the 18th green, hoping for a playoff. This crowd, this event, is just great for the Canadian Tour and for the golf course. Its been a great week.
The tournament-savvy veteran knew he had the ability to go low Sunday, and knew his experience may have given him the upper hand on Damron and Hamilton, who were dealing with the pressure of playing in a Sunday final pairing for the first time.
Typically, when you are younger, you try to force things, and that can hurt you. When you try to push things, it is easy to stub your toe. Its not until you get a few grey hairs in your head that you begin to figure it out. But these kids can play, you have to hand it to them.
Prior to Sunday, Hamiltons best showing on the Canadian Tour was a tie for sixth at last years Greater Toronto Open, a result that allowed him to keep his card for this season. With a playoff just six inches and a few turns of the ball away Sunday, he should be charged heading into this weeks Greater Vancouver Classic at Swan-e-set Bay. But on this day, he had nothing but kudos for Damron.
Patrick shot that 63 Thursday, and the rest of us played catch-up the rest of the week, he said. This was our first time playing together. Hes a great guy and I am happy for him. My hats off to him.