Calgary – Yakima, Washington’s Brock Mackenzie ran away from the field with a final round 6-under 66 at Sirocco Golf Club on Sunday to capture the ATB Financial Classic, his second career PGA TOUR Canada win.
The 33-year old set the 72-hole scoring record for the PGA TOUR Canada era at 27-under 261 and moved to No. 3 on the Order of Merit, in position to earn Web.com Tour status at the end of the season.
“To be able to play this way, I’m so happy with myself that I was able to execute and do what I did,” said Mackenzie, who won by four shots over Order of Merit leader Joel Dahmen of Clarkston, Washington and Tulsa, Oklahoma’s Stephen Carney. “Winning out here provides a huge step for next year. The perks of winning and what comes with that is even more special.”
Mackenzie began the day with a two-shot lead over Milford, Iowa’s Brady Schnell, who carded a 59 on Friday, and Carney, but pulled away with a stead opening nine of 4-under 32. Despite some low scores from his chasers, including a 64 from Dahmen, Mackenzie pulled away from the field and didn’t let any of his pursuers have a chance to catch him.
“I tried to make it almost impossible for those guys to do anything,” said Mackenzie, who also won on PGA TOUR Canada at the 2010 Bayview Place Island Savings Open presented by Times Colonist. “If they made a birdie, I made a birdie on top of them. That’s just kind of the way it was all day.”
“I limited the mistakes,” added the University of Washington alum, who said his solid ballstriking allowed him to keep the field at bay. “I was in play all the time and had good looks at birdies on almost every hole. I just didn’t make the mistakes that almost every other guy did.”
Despite the lead, which grew to as many as five shots after his seventh birdie of the day at the 14th, Mackenzie said he never felt completely comfortable until the 18th hole, where he made his 30th birdie of the week to close the victory in style.
“I think I hit almost every fairway until the last couple of holes, and I still didn’t feel like I could breathe until I got into the fairway on 18 and hit the shot onto the green. Then, I was like ‘This is cool,’” said Mackenzie. “Those guys were firing birdies at me left and right. I never really felt that comfortable, and I was doing everything I needed to.”
The event will go down as a historic one, wiith Mackenzie’s 27-under par total setting the mark for lowest score to par since the launch of PGA TOUR Canada in 2013. Only one player in Tour history has ever gone deeper, with Brian Unk’s 28-under total at the 2009 Seaforth Country Classic holding the all-time mark.
“I honestly didn’t expect to shoot 27-under at the beginning of the week. On this Tour, 16-under’s usually a pretty good score; I don’t even know if that got in the top 15 this week [note: 16-under would have been solo 15th]. I just had to keep the pedal to the metal, as they say, and it went my way.”
With a final round 64, Dahmen increased his commanding Order of Merit lead to $21,920 over second place Tim Madigan, while Carney’s career-best T2 finish moved him up 111 spots to 20th. Victoria, British Columbia’s Cory Renfrew carded a final round 5-under 67, including a near hole-in-one on the par-4 11th with a drive that finished inside a foot from the hole, to finish tied for fourth at 22-under along with Schnell.
At three-over par through seven holes, Airdrie, Alberta’s Riley Fleming was far from thinking he might set a PGA TOUR Canada era record on Sunday. A wild run that saw him play has final 11 holes in 11-under par changed his perspective dramatically, however, with his 8-under 28 on the back nine giving him the lowest nine holes of the PGA TOUR Canada era.
“The first seven, I couldn’t do anything right. Nothing was going my way. Then, I eagled eight and birdied nine to shoot even, and then everything was going in and the hole was looking like a bucket,” said Fleming, the youngest member on PGA TOUR Canada this season. From the eighth hole onward, Fleming went eagle-birdie-birdie-eagle-birdie-birdie-par-birdie-birdie-par-birdie and finished with an 8-under 64 to finish tied for 13th.
“It was easy,” Fleming said of his round. “It was just crazy golf. You just try to keep making birdies. My caddie and I were like, ‘Let’s just get two more. Then, okay let’s get two more. Then, okay, let’s birdie 18.”
Fleming now sits 39th on the Order of Merit, with his best finish a tie for seventh at the SIGA Dakota Dunes Open presented by Sasktel.
With a final round 5-under 67, Victoria, British Columbia’s Cory Renfrew finished in a tie for fourth at 22-under to earn Freedom 55 Financial Canadian Player of the Week Honours.
Renfrew, who earned a $1,500 prize, edged out Peterborough, Ontario’s Ted Brown by a shot, two weeks after Brown won over Renfrew in a tiebreaker to take the award at the Staal Foundation Open presented by Tbaytel.
Each week, Freedom 55 Financial recognizes the top Canadian on the leaderboard, with the top Canadian on the Order of Merit at season’s end earning Freedom 55 Financial Canadian Player of the Week.