Gutschewski Gets First Win

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Nationwide TourSEASIDE, Calif. -- Scott Gutschewski posted an even-par 72 Sunday to coast to his first career Nationwide Tour victory at the Monterey Peninsula Classic. He completed the event at with a tournament-record score of 12-under-par 276.
 
Michael Allen fired a 5-under 67 to climb into second place. He was joined at 8-under-par 280 by Rich Barcelo and Zach Johnson, at two-time winner this season.
 
Gutschewski set all sorts of scoring records en route to the title. He established new 54- and 72-hole scoring marks and became the first player in the four-year history of the event to reach double figures under par.
 
'I thought I could win out here,' said Gutschewski. 'You always think you can win and know you can win, but doing it is a whole different animal. There are no tricks to this golf course. It's right there in front of you. I don't know what it was, but me and the course got along pretty good this week.'
 
Gutschewski opened the day with a four-stroke lead and quickly extended that. He birdied each of the first two holes at the Seaside Resort & Spa's Bayonet Golf Course to climb to 14 under.
 
Prior to this year's tournament, no player had climbed higher than 8 under par. Kyle Thompson had reached 9 under on Friday, but dropped three shots over his next two holes and never was a factor the rest of the tournament.
 
Gutschewski meanwhile, settled down and actually began to look human. Leading by eight strokes, he bogeyed the fourth and fifth to drop back to minus-12.
 
He responded in fine fashion though as he birdied Nos. 6 and 7 to get back to 14 under. He reeled off six straight pars around the turn. He dropped a shot at the 14th and another at the 16th dropping his final margin to four strokes.
 
'I was looking at the board all day so I knew where I stood,' said Gutschewski, who with the victory earns a berth into the 2004 Pebble Beach National Pro-Am championship. 'You just never know what's going to happen. Every hole is a double bogey waiting to happen and you don't have to hit that bad a golf shot to do it.'
 
Gutschewski has used a sponsor's invitation to the Omaha Classic in early August as a catalyst for his outstanding play. He ran off five consecutive top-25 finishes, which gave him a spot in the following weeks' field. He has made seven of eight cuts. He also earned a special temporary membership on the Nationwide Tour with his strong play.
 
He climbed to 65th on the tour money list entering this event. Thanks to the $81,000 first place check, Gutschewski leaps to 23rd on the money list, nearly guaranteeing him his PGA Tour card for the 2004 season which goes to the top 20 finishers on the money list.
 
'The pressure wasn't as much today,' Gutschewski said. 'For five weeks in a row, every putt I hit was big. If I lip out one putt in those weeks that went in, I'm not event here today.'
 
Barcelo, playing in the final group with Gutschewski and Joe Ogilvie, mixed two bogeys and a birdie over his opening nine holes. Around the turn, he carded two birdies and a bogey to cap an even-par round of 72.
 
Allen ran off three straight birdies to open his round. He dropped a shot at the seventh, but came back around the turn to eagle the par-5 10th. He bogeyed the 12th, but closed with birdies on the 14th and 18th for a round of 5-under 67, one of just six rounds in the 60s during the final round.
 
Johnson, who won the Rheem Classic and the Envirocare Utah Classic earlier this season, birdied four holes on the front nine to get to 8 under. On the back nine, he posted a bogey and a birdie for a round of 4-under 68 and a share of second place.
 
Roland Thatcher, who was looking to become the first Nationwide Tour player to ever win the same event in back-to-back years, was never a factor. He finished at 5-over-par 293.
 
Related Links:
  • Monterey Peninsula Classic Leaderboard
  • Full Coverage - Monterey Peninsula Classic