DETROIT – With a Hole-Out Eagle Bunker on the 71st hole, the Aussie Cam Davis made his American dream come true.
“That’s the only reason I’m sitting here now,” he said in his winning press conference about the 60-degree wedge shot that bounced once, hit the flag, and fell. “To be honest, I didn’t think of punching it, I just tried to find my place and just hit another good bunker punch. I’ve met a lot of good ones this week, and this one just came across as pretty good. “
On a hot and dreary Independence Day in Motor City, Davis made a par on the fifth extra hole to beat Troy Merritt and Joaquin Niemann to win his first PGA Tour title.
Davis crowned a remarkable day for Australian golf, joining victorious compatriots Lucas Herbert (Irish Open on the European Tour), Louis Dobelaar (North & South Amateur at Pinehurst No. 2) and Stephanie Kyriacou (the Big Green Open in the Netherlands on) to the Ladies European Tour).
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The 26-year-old Sydney native pursued his dramatic eagle at 17 with an approach that danced two meters from the hole and drilled the putt to shoot 5 under 67 and take the lead in the clubhouse at 18 under 270.
For much of the final round, it seemed like any of a dozen players could win as Niemann and Merritt, the 54-hole co-leaders, were stuck in neutral positions for most of the day. But Niemann birdie two of the last three holes to shoot 68, joining Davis and Merritt who birded four of the last six at 18-under 270. Niemann, who played 72 holes without a bogey, bogey off the fairway as the trio returned to 18 for the first playoff hole.
“It’s hard to stand here knowing there’s a playoff going on,” said Niemann, who scrambled 17-on-17 until he couldn’t get up and down the green. “I know that I could have finished the tournament pretty early on par 5, on 14. Then I couldn’t put on 17 and 18. It just works like that. Yes, that’s golf and sometimes you get your rewards, sometimes it’s not that great, but I’m just happy with the way I play. “
At 18, Davis missed the first of his five attempts to claim his debut win from six feet to win.
Merritt, an Iowa native dressed head to toe in red, white, and blue, took on the role of Rocky Balboa in the crowd that broke and made the wave of restless sports fanatic’s staples. Merritt showed the courage of the Midwest and dragged out pars despite missing the green on par 3 15th (the first time they played it) and par 4 on 16th place. Davis, a tall, stiff Aussie with a certain Ivan Drago look to him, continued to hit fairways and greens with robotic efficiency, but the putts persisted. A week after an eight-hole playoff at the Travelers Championship between Harris English and Kramer Hickok, Davis and Merritt moved onto a fifth hole after matching par-5 birdies on the 17th.
“I just tried to get as much out of my head as I could and just hit every shot for what it was worth,” said Davis. “As simply as that is said, it is so hard to do when the pressure is so great.”
Eventually Merritt buckled when they returned to # 15 and missed a six-foot par putt.
“He had putt after putt to win,” said Merritt. “He did what he had to do and a great champion.”
Davis stood up to the chants of “USA” from the crowd, pointing out that America is his home in every way as he pursues his professional dreams.
“I mean, I’ve been here for a while now. I’m married, I have a house, I have a life here, ”he said. “I know it’s a special day in America and it’s a special day for me too, so I just tried to take the chance that anyone going to Troy would fall on me for it There were people out there who supported them. ”Me too. It was cool, it was just a really cool environment. I know it’s a big day and it’s cool to get this trophy over here on an important day. “
Davis has won the 2017 Australian Open and 2018 Nashville Golf Open on the Korn Ferry Tour, but when asked what winning the PGA Tour would mean for him, he said a lifetime. “
Davis’ favorite golf memory was seeing Tiger Woods play for the first time at the 2009 Australian Masters, but that may have been replaced by a notable bunker shot that highlighted playing his last seven holes of regulation in 5 under to get into the playoffs come.
“I had nothing to lose so I wasn’t that nervous when I was 17,” he said. “I mean, I don’t know, I think these are the things that have to go your way if you want to move forward.”
And this is the moment you have been waiting for your whole life to come true.
Photos: Rocket Mortgage Classic 2021 at Detroit Golf Club