2004 Winner Brett Wetterich
- Created on Wednesday, 04 May 2005 21:17
Deseret Morning News
|Brett Wetterich watches his ball on the last day of the Envirocare Utah Classic at Willow Creek Country Club. Wetterich won the event. Scott G. Winterton, Deseret Morning News|
Wetterich started the day with a two-shot lead and finished with a one-stroke triumph over the fast-closing pair of Franklin Langham and Ryuji Imada.
Well, there was a little doubt when Wetterich's approach shot at No. 18 came up short of the green. That left him him with a tricky, uphill 25-foot putt from the fringe that broke about 6 feet.
However, Wetterich putted the ball up to within a foot and tapped in for the victory, which earned him $81,000 and a nice new trophy for his mantel.
"I didn't want a 4-footer, that's for sure," he said of his final putt. "That was just the right length." Perhaps the most important part about Wetterich's win was that it vaulted him into the top 15 on the Nationwide money list at No. 14 with $179,101. If he can stay in the top 15 through the end of the season, the 31-year-old Floridian will earn an exemption on next year's PGA Tour. And if history holds true, Wetterich will be on the big Tour next season and likely do very well.
The Utah Classic has a history of producing champions who have done well on the PGA Tour, beginning with John Daly back in 1990. Last year's Utah Classic champion, Zach Johnson, has won already on the PGA Tour and ranks among the top 25 money winners after finishing third in the Buick Classic on Sunday.
"That's not bad company," Wetterich said. Wetterich, who is known for his long driving — he ranks second on the Nationwide Tour with a 316-yard average — said the key to his fine play this week was putting. He changed his stance slightly before the week began and putted well all week.
|Brett Wetterich celebrates his win at the Energy Solutions Utah Classic. Scott G. Winterton, Deseret Morning News|
"That's why I'm sitting here, because of the way
I putted this week," he said. "When I started making them Thursday, I knew it was going to be a good week."
Wetterich knocked in birdie putts on the first two holes Sunday before falling back with bogeys at 3 and 9 to make the turn at 15-under for the tournament. That put him just one shot ahead of his playing partner, Chris Sessler, who was playing steady through the first 12 holes.
However, the wheels came off for Sessler after hitting into the bunker at No. 13. He barely got out and ended up with a bogey. At the next hole, he hit his drive out of bounds left and took a triple bogey. He also bogeyed the 15th and 17th holes to finish with a 77 after going 6-over on the final six holes, dropping from second into a tie for 30th at 280.
Wetterich gave himself some breathing room with a birdie at No. 12 and another birdie at 14 when he hit to within 4 feet, to go to 17-under.
At the par-4 No. 16, Wetterich hit another of his monstrous drives, just 25 yards short of the green. He said that was the first time he took a peek at the scoreboard and discovered he was two ahead of Langham, who was just finishing with his 66 that put him at 15-under. A few minutes later, Imada joined him at 273 with a 67 on the day.
Then Wetterich hit one of his poorer shots of the day, hitting a low chip that bounded across the green into the rough. From there he could only get within 12 feet and made bogey.
With the 17th coming up, he would surely birdie and extend his lead back to two. After all, he had already eagled the hole twice in the tournament.
However, he could only manage par when he left a 10-foot birdie try in the jaws, 2 inches short.
That meant Wetterich had to make par on No. 18, which he did after rolling the big-breaker from off the green to within gimme length.
"Winning this week really means a lot to me," said Wetterich, who won a Nationwide event in Louisiana last year. "I think this is bigger. I didn't know what to expect on the first one."
Sandy's Steve Schneiter, who shared the first-round lead, rebounded from his 74 on Saturday that dropped him from contention, with a 3-under par 69 Sunday. That left him at 10-under 278 and in a tie for 18th place, earning him a spot in next week's Nationwide event in Virginia.
"I played fine; the putts just didn't fall," he said. "I had plenty of chances. This was one of those opportunities that got away."
Schneiter said he will play in as many Nationwide events as he can the rest of the year and then try for the PGA Tour qualifying tournament, for which he already has an exemption to the second stage.
The other Utahn still playing Sunday didn't fare so well.
After playing solidly for three days, Bountiful's Garrett Clegg struggled with the second-worst score of the day, a 9-over par 81 that left him at 288. He still picked up a check of $1,417.
2004 Energy Solutions Utah Classic Leaderboard
Brett Wetterich, $81,000 67-69-65-71 - 272
Franklin Langham, $39,600 71-67-69-66 - 273
Ryuji Imada, $39,600 72-69-65-67 - 273
Bubba Watson, $18,600 69-67-70-68 - 274
Doug Barron, $18,600 70-67-69-68 - 274
David Mckenzie, $18,600 67-70-68-69 - 274
Scott Gutschewski, $14,025 70-70-67-68 - 275
D.A. Points, $14,025 69-70-68-68 - 275
Scott Petersen, $14,025 70-70-64-71 - 275
Jason Caron, $11,700 68-68-73-67 - 276
Tyler Williamson, $11,700 70-66-69-71 - 276
John Merrick, $8,550 71-65-75-66 - 277
Warren Schutte, $8,550 68-72-69-68 - 277
Nathan Green, $8,550 67-73-69-68 - 277
Hunter Haas, $8,550 69-67-72-69 - 277
Jeff Freeman, $8,550 67-72-69-69 - 277
Nick Watney, $8,550 69-71-68-69 - 277