DORADO, Puerto Rico (Oct. 13, 2013) – With a final round of 7-under 65, while playing six groups ahead of the leaders, American Ryan Sullivan catapulted to victory in the Puerto Rico Classic presented by Merrill Lynch.
In the tournament shortened to 54 holes due to several weather suspensions throughout the week, Sullivan won by one at 11-under 205.
“It’s a little surreal right now. I’ve been playing very good golf as of late and I came over here to maybe get some momentum heading into first stage of Q-School. This is everything I could have asked and more. Having my uncle (Marty Smith) on the bag it’s pretty special,” said the 24- year-old from North Carolina.
His victory meant a strong comeback, as he had started the tournament carding a double-bogey and three bogeys on his first few holes of the opening round.
“I was 4-over for my first seven holes of the tournament, so I battled back really good and I was happy just to make the cut, but being in position to potentially content and win it was awesome,” said the first-time champion, who followed his opening 74 with a 66 and 65.
Sullivan secured an 11-under total for the clubhouse lead one hour before the last group finished. On that final group, Mexico’s Armando Favela and Spain’s Samuel Del Val would turn out to be his top challengers down to the wire.
Both Favela and Del Val were in a position to force a playoff or win in regulation, but they let their chance slip away right at the end.
Del Val, in a tie for third at the start of the day, managed to tie the lead by making consecutive birdies on 16 and 17. A birdie on 18 would have secured the win, while a par would have forced a playoff. Instead, he pulled his second shot left into a greenside bunker and failed to make the up and down to collect a heart breaking bogey
Favela, leader by one entering the final round, was trailing Sullivan by one through 16, but bogeyed 17 to miss his chance. He ended up birdieing the last to finish in a two-way tie for second with Del Val at 10 under.
Weather conditions. This Sunday was a partly cloudy day with temperatures ranging between 27 and 32 degrees Celsius. The wind blew from the southeast at 14 km/h.
Suspensions. Play was suspended once between 11:43 a.m. and 1:05 p.m. due to lighting.
Ryan Sullivan. His victory in his first career start on NEC Series- event PGA TOUR Latinoamérica was also his first in just over a year as a professional.
The winner's check for $27,000 vaulted him into a tie for eighth in the Order of Merit, where he joins Argentina’s Ángel Cabrera.
The Puerto Rico Golf Association awarded the winner an invitation to the Puerto Rico Open presented by seepuertorico.com next year on the PGA TOUR.
With his final round of 7-under 65, he also became the first recipient of the OHL-Round of the Week Award, which was awarded for the first time this week. The other two 65 s this week were by Argentina’s Cesar Costilla on Sunday and by Manuel Villegas of Colombia in the first round. Sullivan won the tiebreaker by finishing ahead of them on the leaderboard.
This season Sullivan had a solid season on the Web.com Tour, where he missed the cut in his only two starts. In June, he qualified for the U.S. Open at Merion, where he missed the cut making his first major start.
First event shortened to 54 holes. The Puerto Rico Classic presented by Merrill Lynch was the 19th tournament in the history of the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica, but it was also the first tournament that could not be completed in 72 holes.
Cut. The second round was completed earlier Sunday. The cut came at 144 (even-par) and it was made by 63 players who played the third and final round today.
Next tournament. The NEC Series-PGA TOUR Latinoamérica now heads to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where the Aberto do Brasil presented by Credit Suisse Hedging-Griffo (the Brazil Open) starts on Thursday. The tournament will be played at Gávea Golf Club