SANTIAGO, Chile (November 24, 2013) -- That didn't take long.
Timothy O'Neal of Savannah Georgia made an eagle on the first hole of a three-man sudden-death playoff to win the 87th Abierto de Chile on Sunday.
With the victory, his second on NEC Series PGA TOUR Latinoamérica this season, O'Neal jumps to No. 3 on "Los Cinco" and is in position to earn Web.com Tour status for the 2014 season. O'Neal of Savannah, Ga., Florida's Ryan Blaum and Argentina's Sebastián Saavedra finished 72 holes at 13-under 275.
The playoff was contested on No. 18, a 511-yard par-5 where O’Neal had about 200 yards to the flag on his second shot.
“I was in between the 4- and the 5-iron," he said. "I went with the 4-iron and I hit it a little left, but luckily it caught the slope and rolled back towards the hole and I had about a six-footer for eagle, which I was fortunate to make.”
After that fortunate break, his opponents' chances of beating him all but evaporated. Saavedra, who had reached the playoff after a record-breaking round of 10-under 62, made a great sand shot to get within a foot of the hole in three.
Meanwhile Blaum, who almost holed out from a greenside bunker for the win in regulation, missed a 25-foot putt from off the green past the hole on his eagle try. For Blaum it was his second runner-up finish in a row.
“It means a lot," said O'Neal, who claimed his first Tour title at the Arturo Calle Colombian Open in May. "That was a goal of mine, to win and to finish in the top 5 and move on to the Web.com Tour. This second win definitely should lock me up one of those spots in the top 5.”
Although the winner’s check increased his season earnings to $ 90,015 and got him within $7,000 of the top spot of the Order of Merit, the third two-time winner of the season decided to give up on his chances of finishing No. 1.
“I’m going to final stage of q-school (for the Web.com Tour). I just needed some rest before I go and play six rounds. That was the reasoning for not playing the last two events,” added O’Neal who had a flight back to the U.S. on Sunday night.
Watch: Timothy O'Neal Interview
Weather. Sunny and clear. A high of 80 degrees. Winds SSW at 14 mph.
Saavedra’s record round. Despite being on the losing end of a three-man playoff for the second time this season, Argentina’s Sebastián Saavedra had many reasons to feel good about himself on a day he started trailing by nine shots.
His 62 not only set a new record for the Club de Golf Los Leones’ course, but it was also a record of shots under par on PGA TOUR Latinoamérica. The previous record was at 9-under 62 by his countryman Matías O'Curry in the final round of the 2012 Aberto do Brasil.
With a 7-under 29 on the front nine, Saavedra also matched the lowest nine on the Tour record books. Denver’s Gunner Wiebe had set the record while playing the final nine holes of the Mundo Maya Open last May in Merida, Mexico.
“My routine was the same as in previous days, but today the putts were dropping," he said. "On the first eight holes I made many good putts and then I started hitting many good shots, leaving the ball quite close. Actually, to shoot 10-under everything has to turn your way,”
The 27-year old Argentine's e game is on the rise week after week, turning him into a solid No. 8 in the Order of Merit.
Saavedra’s sensational round of 11 birdies and a bogey secured him the OHL-Round of the Week Award as well. He will received a $1,000 check courtesy of OHL for his terrific final round effort.
Ryan Blaum. The loss in the playoff he entered by making birdies on three of the last four holes for a final-round of 68, allowed Ryan Blaum to claim runner-up honors for the second consecutive tournament.
As a reward for his consistency, the 30-year old from Florida is just a step away from moving into the top spot of the Order of Merit. With today’s check his earnings increased to $92,590 for the season, leaving him less than $5,000 away from current No. 1 José de Jesús Rodríguez of Mexico. Rodríguez missed the cut on Friday following a shocking round of 79.
Third-round co-leaders. Argentina's Miguel Carballo and Mexico’s Mario Clemens, the players who entered the day tied for the lead, posted identical scores of 1-over 73 to finish in a two-way tie for fourth. Both made many mistakes early in the day and didn’t really have a shot at the title, finishing two strokes outside the playoff.
Los Cinco. The following were the final scores and positions by the leading five players from the Tour’s Order of Merit:
1. Timothy O'Neal, USA 66-72-70-67 - 275 (-13)
T2. Ryan Blaum, USA 71-68-68-68 - 275 (-13)
T33. Jorge Fernández-Valdés, Argentina 71-73-71-72 - 287 (-1)
Manuel Villegas, Colombia 74-72 - 146 (+2) MC
José de Jesús Rodríguez, Mexico 71-79 - 150 (+6) MC
Los Cinco are the five leading players in the Order of Merit of NEC Series-PGA TOUR Latinoamérica. Those who finish the season holding the top five spots will earn playing status for the 2014 season on the Web.com Tour.
Chileans. Led by 20-year old Juan Cerda, who claimed the outright lead a couple of times throughout today’s final round, the following were the final scores and positions of the locals who played this weekend:
T6. Juan Cerda 70-71-64-73--278 (-10)
T18. Nicolás Geyger 69-73-70-71--283 (-5)
T37. Cristian León 71-73-74-70--288 (par)
T37. Rodrigo Rivas (a) 77-66-73-72--288 (par)
T44. Filip Timmerman 69-72-75-73--289 (+1)
52. Andrés Robeson (a) 70-73-75-74--292 (+4)
T53. Juan Carlos Cortés (a) 73-72-75-73--293 (+5)
Camilo Pizarro Cup. Rodrigo Rivas, 18, claimed low amateur honors and was presented with the Camilo Pizarro Cup. As a tribute, the award was named after Mr. Pizarro, a true friend of golf in Chile and in Latin America who passed away last August. Mr. Pizarro was instrumental in bringing this first PGA TOUR Latinoamérica event to Chile.
Best rounds of the day
62 (-10) Sebastian Saavedra, Argentina
66 (-6) Clodomiro Carranza, Argentina
Bronson Burgoon, USA (67)
Headed to Buenos Aires, Argentina. The NEC Series-PGA TOUR Latinoamérica is now on its way to the capital city of Argentina for the last two events of the season -- the Personal Classic presented by BlackBerry and the 108th VISA Open de Argentina presented by Peugeot. The first of those two events will be played at La Reserva Cardales starting on Thursday.