Parker McLachlin has won on the Hooters Tour, Tight Lies Tour, Gateway Tour and Spanos Tour. On Sunday, he added PGA Tour to the list with a seven-stroke victory at the Legends Reno-Tahoe Open, but it wasn't as easy as it sounds.
The 29-year-old UCLA product in his second year on tour began
the final round with a six-shot lead over Brian Davis after tying
the course record of 62 on Friday and setting a 54-hole mark of
20-under par at the 7,472-yard Montreux Golf & Country Club.
He extended it to seven after three holes Sunday, but the nerves
tightened when he saw it shrink to four with seven holes to play
before escaping trouble several times down the stretch and dropping
a 15-foot putt on the 18th for his lone birdie in a 2-over 74 to finish the tourney at 18-under-par 270.
"It was a hard fought day. I was fortunate to have that big
cushion because I needed it," McLachlin said. "It feels like it
has been a lifetime coming. It has been a dream of mine since I was
Brian Davis and John Rollins tied for second at 11-under 277.
"Brian was putting the heat on and I was feeling it,"
McLachlin said. `It was not my best ball striking day but it really
brought out my short game and just my heart. I just had to gut it
out and sometimes that's what you have to do to get the job done."
England's Davis trailed by only four strokes with five holes to
go but had a double bogey and two bogeys down the stretch to shoot
a 75. A shot back tied for fourth were Martin Laird (66), Harrison
Frazar (69), Eric Axley (69) and Ryan Palmer (70).
"I'm hugely disappointed," said Davis, who realized McLachlin
was "really struggling with his game."
"I always knew on the back nine it was going to be tough. I've
been there before. I got a couple up on him then I got unlucky. I
got a plug lie in the bunker and made double on 14 and that was it
then, it was gone."
McLachlin hit only one of his first 10 greens - only five for
the round Sunday - but relied on his wedge and putter to save par
at least 10 times, including a 12-footer after he had driven into
the rough behind large pine trees on the par-4 fifth and a 9-footer
after blasting out of a greenside bunker on the sixth.
"When everything else fails, I have 100 percent confidence I'm
going to make putts and today everything else failed," he said.
"That's how I've gutted it out throughout my career and that's
what I did today."
He started the day with a six-stroke lead over Davis, but
slipped back to four when Davis chipped in out of a bunker on the
par-5 11th to get to 15-under and McLachlin missed a 6-foot birdie
attempt to remain at 19-under.
The leader was in trouble again on the par-3 12th when his tee
shot went in a waste area 20 yards right and short of the green but
again managed to chip out of the pine needles to within 15 feet and
make the putt. He also chipped out of a greenside bunker on No. 13
to 8 feet then rolled it in.
His lead grew to six again when Davis double-bogeyed after he
took two shots to get out of a bunker at No. 14, while McLachlin
two-putted for par from 12 feet.
McLachlin's drive hit a tree and landed in a pond on the
636-yard, par-5 17th, but his 200-yard fourth shot made the back of
the green and he two-putted from 60 feet for a bogey. He birdied
No. 18 to join four others who claimed their first PGA wins at Reno
- Notah Begay III (1998), Chris Riley (2002), Vaughn Taylor (2004)
and Will MacKenzie (2006).
The closest McLachlin had come to winning on the PGA Tour before
was a tie for fifth in May at the AT&T Classic.
With the top 50 golfers in the world playing at the Bridgestone
Invitational in Ohio, McLachlin entered the week ranked 98th on the
money list, but the $540,000 first-place check at Reno gives him
$1.28 million on the year to move up to 53rd on the money list,
47th in FedExCup points. It also ensures him a spot in next week's
PGA Championship, his first major since he qualified for the U.S.
Open in 2004.
Last year on the Nationwide Tour, McLachlin led the National
Mining Association Pete Dye Classic by seven strokes entering the
final round, but shot a final-round 77 to finish tied for fourth.
He said after Saturday's round he was better prepared this time
around, but admitted Sunday he hadn't slept well the night before
"tossing and turning."
"This is a new thing for me to be leading on Friday, Saturday
and Sunday on tour," he said. "I just never felt comfortable out
there for 1 second."
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