Richy Werenski produced 13 points on Sunday at Tahoe Mountain Club’s Old Greenwood course to claim a thrilling one-point victory at the Barracuda Championship.
Entering the final round seven points off the pace of Troy Merritt, Werenksi offset a slow start with a red-hot finish, scoring 11 of his 13 points over his final seven holes, highlighted by a hole-out eagle on the par-4 16th, and a birdie on No. 18 to edge the overnight leader by a single stroke.
The win – the first of Werenski’s PGA Tour career, moved the Baystate native to No. 34 in the FedExCup standings – and to within striking distance of the top 30 and a trip to East Lake for the Tour Championship.
“It was huge. You know, I’m trying to — I want to make it to East Lake. Obviously that’s the goal. This puts me really close,” said Werenski.
“I was kind of disappointed last week at 3M; I put myself in a good position to win and didn’t.
“But this is huge. I mean, 300 points, that’s a big jump. I think we’re going to make a good run at the Playoffs.”
Alone in second was Merritt (+38), who seemed to be in control of the tournament, after reaching +5 through eight holes, and +37 for the tournament, but the 34-year old produced zilch the rest of the way (10 straight pars) and came up a point short.
“You know, I saw that he [Werenski] was coming up — made birdie on 16 to get to within one point and then walking up on 17 I saw he birdied 18 to get to 39,” said Merritt, a two-time Tour winner.
“I knew we needed to make a birdie coming in. I figured Matthias was going to at least get to 40, so I was trying to make one to get to 40, as well. It just didn’t happen.
“I finished the day with 10 straight pars and had 10 birdie putts, even one from the first cut, and just couldn’t get one to fall. It goes like that sometimes. That’s a little bit frustrating, but still a very solid week.”
Fabian Gomez produced a bogey-free round of +16 to move 12 spots up the leaderboard, sharing third-place with Matthias Schwab (+13) on +37.
Two further back were Scott Stallings (+12) and 36-hole leader Robert Streb (+7) who carded the same four-round total of +35, good for a top-5 finish.
Maverick McNealy had a chance to match his girlfriend, Danielle Kang, in the winner’s circle but couldn’t get it going on Sunday. The 24-year old Stanford product entered the final round just four off the pace, but only mustered a five-point performance, and dropped to solo seventh-place on +34.
Through three rounds Aaron Wise had produced just 14 total points (7, 3, 4), and following a first-hole bogey on Sunday, the Oregon alum was +13 through 55 holes – and sitting below 40th on the leaderboard.
With seemingly nothing to lose, the 24-year old went on a birdie blitz, carding 10 gains over his final 17 holes, highlighted by a pair of hat tricks (Nos. 2, 3, and 4 and 16, 17, and 18) to post the day’s best score of 19 points. The final-round performance moved Wise all the way up to solo 8th place.
Alex Noren (+11), Seamus Power (+7), and Emiliano Grillo (+3) rounded out the top-10 finishers with matching +32 totals.
Final Top 5
1. Richy Werenski +39 (6-11-9-13)
2. Troy Merritt +38 (8-11-14-5)
3. Fabian Gomez +37 (3-7-11-16)
3. Matthias Schwab +37 (9-11-4-13)
5. Scott Stallings +35 (4-8-11-12)
5. Robert Streb +35 (11-9-8-7)
Your college roommate also won on the Korn Ferry TOUR, Seth Reeves. I don’t know if you knew because you were out on the course. Talk about the significance of that.
RICHY WERENSKI: Yeah, we were actually warming up when we were on the chipping green, me and my caddie, and I told him to check the scores for the Web, and he said, oh, your buddy Seth Reeves is leading it.
I said, what? Because I didn’t know what he shot or anything. And so we knew — we ended up teeing off before it was done, so I wasn’t sure. But that was pretty cool.
Georgia Tech, big weekend for Georgia Tech, so it was fun to see.