Nallen Cruises to Record Win


04 Gila River Golf ClassicCHANDLER, Ariz. -- Chris Nallen closed with a 1-under 71 on Sunday, but it was more than enough to win the Gila River Golf Classic. Nallen finished the event at 24-under-par 264, eight strokes clear of the field.
Nallen made a little bit of history with the win. Prior to this, no player had won as a Monday-qualifier in his first career start. He became the 17th Monday-qualifier to go on to win a Nationwide event and the 10th to win in their first start, but no one had done both.
If that weren't enough, he became the 19th wire-to-wire winner in Nationwide Tour history. No one had ever done two of these things in one week, let alone all three. The eight-stroke win was also the largest winning margin of the season.
'It's pretty cool,' said Nallen, who picked up $85,000 for the victory. 'Everything went right this week and that doesn't happen much. When it does, you just ride it and enjoy it.'
Troy Matteson took second place at 16-under-par 272 after closing with a 70 at Whirlwind Golf Club's Cattail Course. Jason Schultz also posted a final-round 70 to close at minus-15. Matthew Jones and Kevin Stadler, a two-time winner this season, finished at 13-under-par 275.
Nallen tripped to a bogey at the first, but bounced right back with a birdie at two. He moved to 24 under with a birdie at the par-4 fifth.
The 22-year-old coasted to the back side with six consecutive pars. Nallen got up-and-down for birdie at the par-5 12th.
Thankfully Nallen had a large lead, as he stumbled to bogeys at each of the next two holes after missing the green each time. He settled down to par the next three holes.
Nallen, a four-time All-American at the University of Arizona, closed the tournament in style as he chipped in for birdie at the last.
'It's awesome to finish that way and birdie the last hole,' said Nallen. 'I wanted to get it up there close and have a good look at par. It was tracking the whole way, hit the pin and dropped in. It was a great way to end.'
The win jumps Nallen all the way to No. 63 on the Nationwide Tour money list with just two full-field events left. The top-60 money winners will qualify for the Tour Championship in three weeks.
Matteson made a big move early, but late troubles kept him from making a serious run at Nallen. Matteson opened with back-to-back birdies to move to minus-16. He again sank consecutive birdies from the fourth.
After a bogey at six, the 24-year-old Matteson dropped in birdies at the seventh and eighth to get to 19 under. He faltered to bogeys on nine and 10 and his run at Nallen was all but done. He parred his next seven holes before bogeying the last.
Scott Petersen, Brent Schwarzrock, Darron Stiles, Jason Buha, Steven Alker and Tyler Williamson shared sixth place at 12-under-par 276.
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