July 13, 2013
Stewart Moore - egolf.com -
Kannapolis, NC - Entering the final round of the eGolf Tour's ninth annual Southern Open, Chip Lynn of Lillington, NC was in possession of a four-shot lead, looking for a long-awaited first tour title. In just under five hours, Lynn validated himself as one of the tour's top players, delivering a masterful performance en route to a final-round 68 and Tiger-Woods-like four-shot win over one of the best fields of the year.
The Southern Open was the 14th of 24 scheduled events on the 2013 eGolf Tour schedule, and was contested this week at The Club at Irish Creek in Kannapolis, NC.
In a week that was marked by two weather delays, one lasting six hours on Thursday afternoon, Lynn's play proved to be a ray of light, closing the door on the moniker that tagged him as one of the tour's best players yet to win.
Entering Saturday's final round, Lynn held a four-shot cushion over a threesome of players, having opened his week with rounds of 66-65-66--197 to ascend to 16-under par through 54 holes of play.
"Having a four-shot lead, I should have felt pretty good - but I would have rather had a 10-shot lead," said Lynn, 25. "Problem is, there are a lot of good rounds on this golf course, so I knew I'd have to keep pushing. I was fortunate that no one took it real deep."
Early on, it appeared as if Lynn might not have been taking it deep, as pars over his first five holes - one of the course's easier stretches - masked what would otherwise be a runaway performance.
"I didn't have many good looks at birdie early on in the round," he said. "I left it hanging on the lip on four and just short on five; I just really wanted to get the day started. I really needed to get a birdie somewhere."
The elusive first birdie came shortly thereafter, as the former Fayetteville State golfer hit his third shot to 2 feet on the par-5 sixth to move to 1-under for the day. At the scenic par-4 seventh, Lynn drained a 20-foot birdie bomb - his longest made putt of the week - to move to 18-under par and well in control of the tournament title.
With nine holes to play, Lynn was three shots clear of the field and heading towards a stretch of golf course where ball-striking would be key. With just one bogey to his name on the week, there was little doubt that the dart-throwing machine could handle the pressure coming in, but that still didn't keep him from peeking at his competition.
"I looked at the scoreboard on 10 because I wanted to see if anyone was doing anything stupid (good)," he joked. "It probably wasn't smart, but I felt pretty good about the way I was playing, so I thought I could take a look. I saw that I was up by three, so I knew what I had to do."
Lynn's lead increased to four when he got up-and-down for birdie on the par-5 13th, moving to 19-under for the week and officially entering the proverbial cruise control mode with five holes to play.
An errant tee shot on the dogleg-left, par-5 14th gave him pause, but a lucky break and a solid par kept him at 3-under for the round, heading to the demanding closing stretch on the Davis Love III-designed Irish Creek course.
Pars on 15, 16 and 17 kept Lynn five shots clear of the field at minus-19, so when he got to the tee of the par-3 18th, the only pressure he put on himself was to try and add one more birdie at the 240-yard closer.
"All my shots coming in, I hit it solid," he said. "On 18, I wanted one more because that was the only hole I bogeyed all week. I hit my tee shot to about 15 feet, but wimped the putt down the hill."
With an exuberant final-hole birdie celebration put on hold until his next win, Lynn did acknowledge his 72nd-hole par and final-round 68 with a subtle fist pump - not the kind based on surprise, but rather born of the idea of affirmation in oneself.
"I've always known I could win out here, I just never put all the rounds together to be able to do it," said Lynn, who picked up $18,500 for the win. "This finally shows me that I can actually do it, and coming down the stretch under pressure, I still have what it takes to win."
Lynn's eGolf Tour career began in July of 2009, when he finished T2 at the Forest Oaks Classic, nearly pulling off a rookie upset down the stretch, only to fall one-shot shy of eventual winner and 2013 PGA TOUR champion Scott Brown.
Following the near-win, however, he went 40 more tournaments before adding another top-10, with the second one coming at last year's Spring Creek Classic - a T6.
A self-provided pep talk the week prior put Lynn back in the right frame of mind to chase his PGA TOUR dream, and he has more that solidified the thought that he belongs on that stage since, posting 13 top-25 finishes in 24 starts - including Saturday's win.
That stretch also provided two top-3 finishes at Irish Creek - one at the 2012 Southern Open, and another earlier this year at the Irish Creek Classic in March. All told, in his last two Southern Opens, Lynn has tallied a 35-under par mark over 144 holes of play.
"Last night, I was nervous. But today, I never got nervous on the course," he said. "I felt in control all day. I didn't talk much, but I really just wanted to keep myself from getting distracted."
The win moved Lynn up to No. 3 on the 2013 eGolf Tour money list with $41,735 in earnings.
"I was really seeing my shots well this week and was pulling them off," he said. "Hopefully this is the start of some good things."
Seamus Power of West Waterford, Ireland and Sam Beach of Glen Allen, VA finished tied for second, four shots back of Lynn at 15-under 269. Both players earned $9,126 for their efforts.
Power opened his week with rounds of 68-67-69, then played flawlessly on Saturday, posting six birdies and zero bogeys for a closing 65 to solidify his T2 finish.
For Power, a two-time winner on the eGolf Tour last year, the runner-up was further evidence of his status as one of the tour's best young players. The former East Tennessee State standout now has three second-place finishes in 2013 alone, dating back to similar efforts at both the Columbia Open and Willow Creek Open in May.
At Willow Creek, the Charlotte, NC resident bogeyed Nos. 15 and 18 during the final round - missing a 6-foot par save at the last - to fall one shot shy of winner Josh Persons.
Now with a stellar seven top-3 finishes in his last 26 starts on the eGolf Tour, Power has asserted himself as one of the tour's most consistent performers - evidenced by his 11 made cuts in 11 starts this year. He is currently fourth on the tour's money list with $39,656 in earnings.
Beach, who carded the week's low number with a 9-under 62 in the second round, played in Saturday's penultimate threesome, and was the first to apply any semblance of pressure to Lynn.
Looking to take advantage of the course's benign start, Beach did just that, posting birdies on Nos. 2, 3 and 4 to jump to 15-under par - briefly one shot back of Lynn. At the short par-4 fifth, an unlikely bogey took him back to 14-under, where he remained for much of the day until a birdie at the 16th pushed him up to 15-under. Pars over his last two holes gave Beach a final-round 68 and a career-best T2 finish.
After failing to post a single top-10 in his first 27 starts on the eGolf Tour, Beach has now recorded two top-3 finishes in his last five tournaments, dating back to a T3 effort at the Palisades Classic in May. The T2 at Irish Creek bumped his season-long earnings up to $24,222, good for No. 14 on the money list.
Jonas Enander Hedin of Sweden finished in solo-fourth place at 13-under 271 with rounds of 69-69-63-70. The former UNC Charlotte golfer, who now lives in Charlotte, earned $5,500 for the week.
Enander Hedin, who played in the day's final pairing alongside Lynn, birdied the par-3 third, but gave back that shot and one more with bogeys on 10 and 12 to fall out of tournament contention. The former European Palmer Cup team member rallied with birdies on 13 and 14 to get back to under par for the round, eventually finishing with a 1-under 70.
The finish marked his third top-10 of the 2013 season and pushed his earnings up to $17,931, good for 24th on the tour's money list.
The tour would like to thank Irish Creek General Manager Jeff Austin, Head Golf Professional Alan Cress, Assistant Golf Professional Jeremy Hurst, and their staff for their help in coordinating the Southern Open this week. A special thanks goes to Irish Creek head golf course superintendent Artie Helton and his crew for presenting a wonderful venue for the week, and for putting in extra work to prepare the course around numerous weather delays. Finally, a special thank you goes to the members of Irish Creek for allowing the tour to utilize their club for the week. Without their support, the event would not be possible.
The eGolf Tour will head to Hickory, NC next week for the fourth annual HGM Hotels Classic at Rock Barn, to be contested on July 17-20 at Rock Barn Club & Spa.
The Southern Open
The Club at Irish Creek
Par 71; 7,099 yards
1. Chip Lynn, Lillington, NC, $18,500.00, *66-65-66-68-265 -19
2. Seamus Power, Ireland, $9,126.50, *68-67-69-65-269 -15
2. Sam Beach, Glen Allen, VA, $9,126.50, *72-62-67-68-269 -15
4. Jonas Enander Hedin, Charlotte, NC, $5,500.00, *69-69-63-70-271 -13
5. John-Tyler Griffin, Wilson, NC, $3,675.00, *69-70-68-65-272 -12
5. Taylor Floyd, Forsyth, GA, $3,675.00, *69-69-68-66-272 -12
5. Thomas Bass, Holly Springs, NC, $3,675.00, *70-66-68-68-272 -12
5. Vince Hatfield, Greenwood, SC, $3,675.00, *67-71-65-69-272 -12
9. T.J. Howe, Osceola, PA, $2,900.00, *71-67-63-72-273 -11
10. Harold Varner III, Gastonia, NC, $2,500.00, *69-68-71-66-274 -10
10. Cam Burke, Ontario, Canada, $2,500.00, *70-69-68-67-274 -10
10. Frank Adams III, Salisbury, NC, $2,500.00, *70-69-68-67-274 -10
10. Lanto Griffin, Blacksburg, VA, $2,500.00, *70-63-73-68-274 -10
10. Corbin Mills, Easley, SC, $2,500.00, *66-68-71-69-274 -10
10. Ricky McDonald, Shoreline, WA, $2,500.00, *70-67-68-69-274 -10
10. Ethan Tracy, Charlotte, NC, $2,500.00, *69-65-69-71-274 -10
17. Tyler McCumber, Ponte Vedra Bch, FL, $2,100.00, *69-70-70-66-275 -9
17. Jesse Hutchins, Kirkersville, OH, $2,100.00, *73-67-66-69-275 -9
17. Bubba Dickerson, Fernandina Bch, FL, $2,100.00, *70-64-70-71-275 -9
20. Paul Woodbury, Lake City, SC, $1,975.00, *69-68-70-69-276 -8
20. John Hahn, Las Vegas, NV, $1,975.00, *68-68-69-71-276 -8
22. Mikel Martinson, Lubbock, TX, $1,900.00, *72-65-70-70-277 -7
23. Daniel Bowden, Easley, SC, $1,775.00, *69-71-70-68-278 -6
23. Jack Fields, Southern Pines, NC, $1,775.00, *69-70-66-73-278 -6
23. Dustin Bray, Charleston, SC, $1,775.00, *70-70-71-67-278 -6
23. Tanner Ervin, Mt. Pleasant, SC, $1,775.00, *70-68-66-74-278 -6
27. Ryan Nelson, Charleston, SC, $1,600.00, *69-71-67-72-279 -5
27. Donnie Baucom, Orangevale, CA, $1,600.00, *68-66-77-68-279 -5
27. Crawford Reeves, Greer, SC, $1,600.00, *73-67-71-68-279 -5
30. Michael Marshburn, Cary, NC, $1,425.00, *68-67-73-72-280 -4
30. Andrew Gai, Westport, CT, $1,425.00, *70-68-71-71-280 -4
30. Marshall Pickett, Charlotte, NC, $1,425.00, *67-72-72-69-280 -4
30. Travis Ross, Crookston, MN, $1,425.00, *67-73-72-68-280 -4
34. Brandon Cobb, Louisville, GA, $1,275.00, *64-70-73-74-281 -3
34. Will Collins, Salisbury, NC, $1,275.00, *69-70-72-70-281 -3
34. Christian Brand, Charleston, WV, $1,275.00, *73-67-72-69-281 -3
37. Jordan Walor, Wake Forest, NC, $1,187.50, *66-69-73-74-282 -2
37. Drew Weaver, Sea Island, GA, $1,187.50, *68-69-72-73-282 -2
37. Kevin McLister, Charlotte, NC, $1,187.50, *69-71-71-71-282 -2
37. Jacob Burger, Orangeburg, SC, $1,187.50, *71-69-74-68-282 -2
41. Daniel Stanley, Spartanburg, SC, $1,100.00, *69-68-72-74-283 -1
41. Matt Short, Hudson, NC, $1,100.00, *73-64-70-76-283 -1
41. Joshua Brock, Wilmington, NC, $1,100.00, *67-71-73-72-283 -1
44. Amory Davis, Chadds Ford, PA, $1,016.25, *66-70-73-75-284 E
44. Chris McCartin, Raleigh, NC, $1,016.25, *69-71-69-75-284 E
44. Matthew Ryan, Santa Clarita, CA, $1,016.25, *70-67-74-73-284 E
44. Preston Dembowiak, Greensboro, NC, $1,016.25, *66-73-74-71-284 E
48. Reed Darsie, Chapel Hill, NC, $980.00, *71-69-70-75-285 +1
49. Kevin O'Connell, Cary, NC, $965.00, *73-67-69-78-287 +3
49. Tyler Way, Charlotte, NC, $965.00, *69-70-75-73-287 +3
51. Jeb Buchanan, Loudonville, NY, $950.00, *69-71-75-74-289 +5
52. Mitch Bagley, Midlothian, VA, $940.00, *70-69-76-76-291 +7
53. Jonathan Cox, Marietta, GA, $930.00, *69-70-75-82-296 +12