Dallas, Texas’ Kramer Hickok shot a 5-under 66 on Sunday at Pine Ridge Golf Club to win the Players Cup, earning his first Mackenzie Tour – PGA TOUR Canada win.
The 25-year old converted a one-shot overnight lead into victory, using a flurry of three birdies and an eagle on the back nine to win by three over Wilmer, Alabama’s Robby Shelton.
“This is why I came to this tour, to try and win and play against honestly some of the best players in the world,” said Hickok, who moves to third on the Order of Merit. “To be able to play in front of the fans, this is getting us ready for the PGA TOUR, and there’s nothing like it.”
After re-emerging as the leader through 11 holes – Shelton briefly held the lead at the turn but made a double bogey at 10 – Hickok found a spark on the par-5 12th, carving a 3-iron from 227 yards to within a foot of the hole for an eagle to extend the lead to three over the charging Shelton, who made birdies on 14 and 15.
“That was kind of a defining moment for me,” said Hickok. “Robby was the one guy that I knew was going to play well. I knew he was going to shoot 4- or 5-under, because he’s just that type of player. That’s what he does.”
Following a Hickok bogey at 15, the lead shrank to one shot, but the University of Texas alum responded like a champion, extending his lead to two after hitting a 127-yard pitching wedge to a foot at 17 and closing with a 25-footer for birdie at 18, leading to a triumphant fist pump.
“The last three holes I decided to play it was a whole separate tournament,” said Hickok. “I tried my best just to play it in one under. The make birdie at the last was a nice little gift, but it was unbelievable to be able to go birdie-birdie when I was the most nervous I’ve ever been in my life.”
The win comes thanks in part to advice Hickok has received from his roommate, two-time major champion Jordan Spieth, as well as frequent off-season playing partner Fred Couples, who plays at the Madison Club in La Quinta, California with Hickok.
“Whenever I talk to Jordan about the putts that he’s made, whether it was junior golf for him or college golf, he’s looked back on putts that he’s made, and for me going forward this is going to be one of those putts that I can look back on and say I played my best golf when I needed it most,” said Hickok, adding that Couples sent him a text this morning and told him to “grind, grind, grind and do your thing and just have fun.”
The win moves Hickok into third place on the Order of Merit, in position to earn a spot in the RBC Canadian Open in two weeks. Shelton, meanwhile, extended his Order of Merit lead to $19,223.
Six shots behind Hickok in a tie for third at 9-under were Lake Mary, Florida’s Jhared Hack, The Dalles, Oregon’s Damian Telles and Bakersfield, California’s Matt Picanso.
Non-members inside the top-60 on the Order of Merit after the Players Cup (to a limit of three) were eligible to earn conditional status for the remainder of the year. In 39th place on the Order of Merit with three made cuts in three starts, Team Canada Amateur Squad member, Kimberley, B.C.’s Jared du Toit was the only non-member to fit the criteria and is eligible to join the Mackenzie Tour with conditional status for the remainder of 2017.
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