May 22, 2016
Greer, S.C. – At 3:30 p.m. on Sunday afternoon at the BMW Charity Pro-Am presented by SYNNEX Corporation, Richy Werenski found himself in a four-way tie for the lead with just under nine holes to play in one of the Web.com Tour’s longest-standing events.
The former Georgia Tech golfer, who vaulted into contention with three birdies on his opening nine to reach 18-under for the week, closed with birdies on Nos. 12, 15 and 16 to post 21-under 265 with a final-round 65, good for his first Web.com Tour title and the event’s $121,500 first-place prize.
Werenski’s week in the South Carolina Upstate opened with rounds of 68-67-65–200 (15-under) across three courses, with the annual Pro-Am featuring stops at host Thornblade Club, The Reserve at Lake Keowee and The Preserve at Verdae.
Entering Sunday’s final round at Thornblade, Werenski trailed overnight leader Brandon Hagy by one shot, but quickly made a move with birdies on Nos. 1, 5 and 8 to turn at 18-under par — tied with Hagy with nine holes to play.
Hagy, playing one group behind Werenski, birdied the par-4 10th to grab the outright lead at 19-under par, but quickly gave back the cushion with a double bogey on the par-3 11th.
“I got a tough kick. It was maybe two yards off the fringe and kicked maybe 15 yards up against the plank there,” said Hagy, referencing the bulkhead that lines the right side of the watery par-3. “It happens, but that was not that bad of a shot.”
Hagy’s misfortune was Werenski’s open door, as a birdie at the par-4 12th put him in a brief tie for the lead alongside Scott Harrington at 19-under, while back-to-back birdies on the par-5 15th and the par-5 16th pushed the former Yellow Jacket into the outright lead at 21-under for the week — two shots clear of the field at the time.
For Werenski, the sudden surge to the top of the leaderboard was news to him after a day spent watching birdies as opposed to boards.
“I tried my best not to look at a scoreboard until the very end, and I can say I did that until 18,” said Werenski “That’s something my coach told us at Georgia Tech; scoreboard watching brings in way too many variables, and you don’t’ want to pay attention to that, so I didn’t really know where I stood.”
At the arduous par-4 18th, a tee shot into the left rough gave way to an approach shot long and over the green, but Werenski delivered on the 72nd hole in front of one of the season’s biggest crowds.
Needing to get up and down to all but assure the win, the 24-year-old hit a perfect chip shot to 2 feet, setting up a simplistic tap-in par for a closing 65 and the biggest victory of his professional career.
“I feel the same as I usually feel. It hasn’t set in,” said the soft-spoken Werenski after his round. “I knew if I went out there and played solid, that’s all you can do. I’ve learned my last two tournaments that it’s either your day or it’s not.”
The win pushed Werenski’s 2016 money total to $258,958, good for second place on the money list, trailing only two-time winner Wesley Bryan.
Werenski’s season had been a bit up and down entering the week, with a pair of runner-up finishes masking four missed cuts to put him at No. 7 on the money list prior to the win.
As a rookie in 2015, the South Hadley, Massachusetts native posted four top-25 finishes on his way to a 79th-place finish on the money list.
As a sophomore in 2016, he no longer has to worry about status and whether or not he’s in the next field, but rather how far his newfound success can take him.
“This is a totally different year than last year. I was fighting to get through the reshuffles. And now this year I can go out and keep playing and tallying up the money,” he said. “I’ve got my PGA TOUR card, but my goal is to be No. 1 on the money list. I want to be fully exempt for next year.”
Zack Sucher, Brian Campbell and Brett Drewitt finished in a three-way tie for second at 19-under 267. Sucher made one of the day’s more dramatic back-nine moves, birdieing 12, 13, 14 and 15 to reach 19-under par, briefly tying for the lead alongside Werenski. Pars on his closing three holes, however, left him two shots out.
For Sucher, the runner-up effort marked his best on the Web.com Tour since a breakout 2014 campaign that saw him claim the Midwest Classic title and five additional top-10 finishes on his way to a third-place finish on the season-ending money list.
The former University of Alabama-Birmingham golfer played the PGA TOUR in 2015, but finished outside the top 200 in the FedExCup standings. He returned to Web.com Tour Q-School in December, where he finished T79.
Of the trio of runner-up finishers, Campbell had the most electric start, notching three birdies and an eagle in his first seven holes to turn in 4-under 31.
The former Illinois golfer was even par on his closing nine coming to the 18th, but hit a masterful approach shot to 8 feet, converting the putt to post 19-under in the clubhouse, tying Sucher at the time. The finish marked the third top-10 of Campbell’s career on the Web.com Tour, and bettered his previous career-best — a T8 at this year’s El Bosque Mexico Championship presented by INNOVA.
Drewitt, a native of Australia, played bogey-free golf in the final round, closing with birdies 11, 13, 15 and 16 to come out of left field and into contention while playing alongside Campbell.
The 25-year-old had a lengthy birdie try on the 72nd hole to post 20-under, but left the putt 7 feet short before converting the par try for a career-best runner-up finish.
The T2 marked his first top-10 on the Web.com Tour since a T5 at last year’s Chile Classic. Hagy rebounded from his double bogey with a birdie on the par-4 13th to get back to 18-under par, but parred his final five holes to finish in solo-fifth place.
* Sunday weather: Sunny. Wind N at 10-15 mph. High of 78 degrees, low of 61 degrees.
* This week’s purse was $675,000.
* Richy Werenski won the final edition of Golf Channel’s “Big Break” series in early 2015 before venturing onto the Web.com Tour. On his way to winning “Big Break: The Palm Beaches,” Werenski defeated (among others) fellow Web.com Tour members Wesley Bryan and Kyle Scott. Bryan is the Tour’s current leading money winner.
* With Werenski’s winning score of 21-under par, the BMW Charity Pro-Am has now featured a winner posting a 20-under-or-better total in each of the last four years, and seven of the last nine years.