Wagner Collects Second Win of the Season

By Sports NetworkAugust 6, 2006, 4:00 pm
2006 Preferred Wichita OpenOMAHA, Neb. -- Johnson Wagner fired an 8-under 63 on Sunday to come from behind and win the Cox Classic. He finished 72 holes at 21-under-par 263 and cruised to a four-shot win at Champions Run.
 
Wagner collected his second win of the season after hoisting the trophy at the Louisiana Open. With one more victory on the Nationwide Tour in 2006, he will earn an automatic 'battlefield promotion' to the PGA TOUR.
 
If that doesn't work out, Wagner now has other options. He pocketed $112,500 for the victory and vaulted past Tripp Isenhour for first place on the Nationwide Tour money list. The top 20 after the season gain exemptions to the PGA Tour, so Wagner looks like he will be plying his trade there in 2007.
 
'I love this event and sorry I'm not coming back for the rest of my life,' joked Wagner. 'I've been dreaming of finishing on this hole on Sunday and I can't think of a better way to finish.'
 
Third-round co-leader Craig Bowden birdied the 72nd hole to move into sole possession of second place. He shot a final-round, 3-under 68 to finish at 17-under-par 267.
 
It was a tough contest early as no one distanced themselves from the field. Wagner birdied the second, then drained a long birdie putt at the third. When he rolled in a 12-foot, left-to-right-breaking birdie try on No. 8, he reached minus-16 and trailed by one.
 
Wagner birdied the par-5 10th to move into the lead, then holed a 20-foot birdie putt at 11 to move two clear. Bowden got to 17 under and within one with a birdie of his own at the 11th.
 
Wagner played steady golf on the back nine, but Bowden dropped a shot at the 14th when his drive found the right rough. He got the stroke back right away when he hit a beautiful approach into the 15th green. Bowden drained the 3-footer to once again close the gap to one, but things turned quickly for both players.
 
Bowden drove well left of the fairway at the 16th and could never recover. He made bogey at 16, but one hole ahead, Wagner hit a 3-wood to 5 feet to set up eagle. That became a four-shot swing and gave Wagner sufficient breathing room at the closing hole.
 
He found the fairway off the tee, then hit his approach 25 feet left of the flag on the fringe. Wagner drained that birdie putt for good measure, but the result was academic.
 
'This event is run as much as a PGA TOUR event as I can imagine,' said Wagner. 'Hopefully, I'll get to find out next year. I loved coming here year after year.'
 
Michael Putnam went out early and fired a 7-under 64. He tied for third place with Cliff Kresge (65), Jeff Quinney (66), Paul Gow (66) and Jeff Klauk (68) at minus-16.
 
Ken Duke posted an 8-under 63 to share eighth place with former Ryder Cupper Chip Beck (67), John Mallinger (68), Deane Pappas (68), Peter Tomasulo (68) and Jamie Broce (69). The group came in at 15-under-par 269.
 
Ryan Armour shared the third-round lead with Bowden, but struggled on Sunday. He only managed a 1-over 73 and finished in a group tied for 17th at minus-13.
 
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    Wise continues whirlwind ascent with first win

    By Will GrayMay 21, 2018, 3:13 am

    DALLAS – Still shy of his 22nd birthday, Aaron Wise continues to prove himself to be a quick learner.

    Wise went from unheralded prospect to NCAA individual champ seemingly in the blink of an eye while at the University of Oregon. After eschewing his final two years of eligibility in Eugene, he won in Canada on the Mackenzie Tour in his third start as a professional.

    He continued a quick learning curve with a win last year on the Web.com Tour to propel him to the big leagues, and he didn’t flinch while going toe-to-toe with Jason Day two weeks ago, even though the result didn’t go his way.

    Faced with another opportunity to take down a top-ranked Aussie, Wise made sure he got the job done Sunday at the AT&T Byron Nelson – even though it took until dark.

    With mid-day rains turning a firm and fast layout into a birdie barrage, Wise seamlessly switched gears and put his first PGA Tour title on ice in impressive fashion with a bogey-free 65. Deadlocked with Marc Leishman to start the day, Wise made six birdies in his first 10 holes and coasted to a three-shot win as the leaders barely beat the setting sun to avoid an anticlimactic Monday finish at Trinity Forest Golf Club.


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    As it turned out, the hardest part of the day was enduring the four-hour weather delay alongside his mother, Karla, as his afternoon tee time turned into a twilight affair.

    “She was talking to me in the hotel about what a win could mean, what a second could mean, kind of taking me through all that,” Wise said. “I was like, I’ve got to calm down. I can’t just sit here. I said, ‘You’ve got to go.’ I kind of made her leave the room.”

    Wise displayed some jitters right out of the gates, with a nervy three-putt par on the opening hole. But with several players going on birdie runs to turn what seemed like a two-man race into a much more wide-open affair, Wise went on a tear of his own with four birdies in a row on Nos. 7-10.

    That gave him a window over Leishman and the rest of the chase pack, and he never looked back.

    “I talked to myself and kind of made myself trust my putting,” Wise said. “These greens out here are really tricky, and for me to roll those putts in on 8 and 9 really kind of separated things.”

    Leishman had held at least a share of the lead after each round, and the 34-year-old veteran was looking for his third win in the last 14 months. But a bogey on No. 10 coincided with a Wise birdie to boost the rookie’s advantage from two shots to four, and Leishman never got closer than three shots the rest of the way.

    “He holed putts he needed to hole, and I didn’t,” Leishman said. “Hit a couple loose shots where I could have probably put a bit of pressure on him, and didn’t. And that’s probably the difference in the end.”

    Instead of sitting next to a trophy in Dallas, Wise could have been closing out his senior season next week with an NCAA appearance at Karsten Creek. But the roots of his quick climb trace back to the Master of the Amateurs in Australia in December 2015, a tournament he won and one that gave him confidence that he could hold his own against the best in the world. He returned to Eugene and promptly told his coach, Casey Martin, that he planned to turn pro in the spring.

    The same dogged confidence that drove that decision has been the guiding force behind a whirlwind ascent through every rung of the professional ladder.

    “I just have a lot of belief in myself. I didn’t come from a lot. A lot of people don’t know that. I didn’t get to travel a bunch when I played junior golf,” Wise said. “Kind of all along it’s been very, very few moments to shine and I have had to take advantage of them.”

    Despite that belief, even Wise admits that he’s “shocked” to turn only his second real chance to contend at this level into a maiden victory. But fueled by the memories of a close call two weeks ago, he put the lessons learned at Quail Hollow to quick use while taking the next step in an increasingly promising career arc.

    “It was awesome, everything I dreamed of,” Wise said. “To walk up 18, knowing I kind of had it locked up, was pretty cool.”

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    Grace celebrates birthday with final-round 62

    By Will GrayMay 21, 2018, 1:51 am

    DALLAS – Branden Grace celebrated his 30th birthday in style, making the biggest charge of the final round at the AT&T Byron Nelson.

    Grace closed out a 9-under 62 as the sun began to set at Trinity Forest Golf Club, moving from outside the top 10 into a share of third place, four shots behind Aaron Wise. It equaled Grace’s career low on the PGA Tour, which he originally set last summer at The Open, and it was one shot off Marc Leishman’s course-record 61 from the opening round.

    “Good birthday present. It was fun,” Grace said. “Little bit of imagination, little bit of luck here and there. You get more luck on the links golf course than maybe on a normal golf course.”


    Full-field scores from the AT&T Byron Nelson

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    Weeks after Grace’s wife gave birth to the couple’s first child, he now has his best result on the PGA Tour since winning the RBC Heritage more than two years ago. As a world traveler and former Presidents Cup participant, the South African embraced an opportunity this week to go off the beaten path on an unconventional layout.

    “It feels like a breath of fresh air coming to something different. Really is nice. I really enjoyed the golf course,” he said. “Obviously I think we got really lucky with the weather, and that’s why the scores are so low. It can bite you if it settles in a little bit in the next couple years.”

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    Scott barely misses qualifying for U.S. Open

    By Will GrayMay 21, 2018, 1:33 am

    DALLAS – A birdie on the 72nd hole gave Adam Scott a glimmer of hope, but in the end even a closing 65 at the AT&T Byron Nelson wasn’t enough to earn an exemption into next month’s U.S. Open.

    Scott entered the week ranked No. 65 in the world, and the top 60 in next week’s rankings automatically qualify for Shinnecock Hills. The cutoff was a big reason why the 2008 tournament champ returned for Trinity Forest’s debut, and midway through the final round it seemed like the Aussie had a shot at snagging a bid at the 11th hour.

    Scott needed at least a solo ninth-place finish to pass an idle Chesson Hadley at No. 60, and while his 5-footer on the 18th green gave him a share of sixth place when he completed play, he ultimately ended up in a three-way tie for ninth at 15 under – barely short of a spot in the top 60.


    Full-field scores from the AT&T Byron Nelson

    AT&T Byron Nelson: Articles, photos and videos


    “I tried to make the most of really favorable conditions today, and I did a pretty good job of it. Just never really got a hot run going,” Scott said. “I feel like I struggled on the weekend reading the greens well enough to really get it going, but I think everyone but the leaders did that, too. They’re not the easiest greens to read.”

    Scott has played each of the last three weeks in an effort to earn a U.S. Open exemption, and he’ll make it four in a row next week when he returns to the Fort Worth Invitational on a course where he won in 2013. Scott still has another chance to avoid sectional qualifying by earning a top-60 spot at the second and final cutoff on June 11 following the FedEx St. Jude Classic.

    Scott has played 67 majors in a row, a streak that dates back to 2001 and is second only to Sergio Garcia among active players. While he’s prepared to play each of the next three weeks in a last-ditch effort to make the field, he’s taking his schedule one event at a time with the hope that one more good result might take care of business.

    “I’ll play next week and hopefully play really well, and give myself a bit of cushion so I can take a week or so off and try to prepare the best I can for the U.S. Open,” Scott said.

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    Wise wins first Tour title at AT&T Byron Nelson

    By Nick MentaMay 21, 2018, 1:22 am

    On the strength of a final-round 65, 21-year-old Aaron Wise broke through for his first PGA Tour victory Sunday, taking the AT&T Byron Nelson at Trinity Forest. Here's how Wise beat the field and darkness following a lengthy rain delay:

    Leaderboard: Wise (-23), Marc Leishman (-20), Branden Grace (-19), J.J. Spaun (-19), Keith Mitchell (-19)

    What it means: This is Wise’s first PGA Tour win in just his 18th start as a member. Tied with Leishman to start the final round, Wise raced ahead with six birdies in a seven-hole stretch from Nos. 4-10 and never looked back. He'd make eight straight pars on his way into the clubhouse and the winner's circle. The 2016 NCAA Division I individual champion just locked up Tour status through the 2019-20 season and guaranteed himself a spot in the PGA Championship.

    Best of the rest: Leishman reached 20 under par but just couldn’t keep pace with Wise. This is his second runner-up of the season, following a solo second in the CJ Cup in October.

    Round of the day: Grace carded a 62 – where have I heard that before? – with eight birdies, an eagle and a bogey to end up tied for third, his best finish of the season on Tour.

    Biggest disappointment: Adam Scott looked as though he had done enough to qualify for the U.S. Open via the Official World Golf Ranking when he walked off the golf course. Unfortunately, minutes later, he’d drop from a four-way tie for sixth into a three-way tie for ninth, narrowly missing out on this week's OWGR cutoff.

    Break of the day: Wise could very well have found the hazard off the tee at No. 9 if not for a well-placed sprinkler head. Rather than drop a shot, he took advantage of his good fortune and poured in another birdie putt to extend his lead.

    Quote of the day: "It's a dream come true to win this one." - Wise