Utah Championship News
Utah Championship: Golfer Putnam snags first pro win
Monday, 13 September 2010 16:11
Sandy • Michael Putnam’s first professional victory was not supposed to take this long.
As a rookie on the PGA Tour in 2005, Putnam finished in a tie for fourth at the Hartford and his expectations were high. Fast forward five years.
“I wasn’t frustrated, but I had a lot of low times,” said Putnam moments after securing the Utah Championship with a 4-under-par 67 on Sunday at Willow Creek Country Club. “It’s real special. I thought it would come quicker than this.”
Not only did Putnam hold off Bradley Iles and Jhonattan Vegas for a three-stroke victory, but the $99,000 first-place check vaulted the 27-year-old, of Tacoma, Wash., into 15th on the Nationwide Tour money list. The top 25 automatically earn their PGA Tour cards for 2011.
The big payday also comes in handy because Putnam, who owned Willow Creek’s fast greens all week, will soon become a father for the first time.
“Perfect timing,” he said.
Putnam conquered the rain and wind Thursday, shooting a 66 on the par-71 course. Then, as the weather and crowds grew to an estimated four-day total of more than 40,000, he continued to play steady golf, shooting scores of 66, 67 and 67.
Putnam entered the final day trailing Iles by one stroke. However, the New Zealander could not get on any kind of roll, while Vegas could not take advantage of three consecutive birdies to start his round.
“I just wasn’t able to make anything coming in,” said the Venezuelan, who put together four solid rounds and now sits sixth among the top 25. “From [holes] 13 through 18, I felt like I had some opportunities, but just couldn’t execute the right way.”
Putnam played consistently well, too, with five birdies on the front nine, including two par 3s, “the teeth of the golf course.”
But he was also fortunate. He bogeyed No. 11, but it could have been worse as he yanked a shot out of the trap on the par-3 hole that caromed off a photographer and landed eight feet off the green.
“I could have been eight yards off the green,” Putnam said.
At that point, a single shot separated the three top competitors. Putnam birdied 12, while Iles dropped a shot. Vegas, playing a group in front of Putnam, also birdied 12, but bogeyed 16 to end his championship hopes.
“I didn’t hit it very well today at all,” said Iles, who was also going after his first Nationwide Tour victory. “Michael played awesome. He played well and got some good kicks and I played terrible and got bad kicks.
“He’s going to have a kid soon, too, so good on him.”