The pro golf life took a pair of Aiken County natives out of the continental United States this weekend, and both will return as victors.
North Augusta and USC Aiken product Scott Brown made up a last-hole deficit to with the PGA Tour’s Puerto Rico Open, while former South Aiken and UGA golfer Kevin Kisner rode a sizzling third round to win the Web.com Tour’s Chile Classic.
Brown came to the par-5 18th hole at Trump International in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico, trailing Fabian Gomez by a stroke and said that he felt he would have to go for the lowest possible option to bring home the victory.
“I thought I would need an eagle as well as he was playing,” he said. “So I just stayed aggressive.”
Brown closed with a 2-under 70, his final birdie set up with a 3-iron that he kept low to avoid palm trees and leave himself a 30-yard pitch short of the green.
Gomez, trying to become the first Argentine to win on tour since Angel Cabrera at the 2009 Masters, was in perfect position off the tee at the 18th. That’s when it went all around.
His second shot left him a tough lie in the bunker, and he blasted that over the green and into another bunker. He missed a 15-foot par putt for a 71, and then had to watch as Brown rapped in the winning putt.
Brown finished at 20-under 268 to set the tournament record. He earned $630,000, a two-year exemption on the PGA Tour and a spot in The Players Championship in May and the PGA Championship in August. Because the Puerto Rico Open is held the same week as a World Golf Championship in Florida, the win does not get Brown into the Masters.
He had been planning on playing a full Web.com Tour schedule this year. Instead, he is headed to the Tampa Bay Championship next week and can spend the rest of his season in the big leagues.
“I was nervous over that last putt,” Brown said. “A kid growing up in Augusta, this is a dream come true.”
Gomez tied for second with 19-year-old Jordan Spieth, who was playing on a sponsor exemption and now is exempt into the Tampa Bay Championship. Spieth shot 67.
“It was cool to battle on the back nine there and know that I was close in the heat and to feel the pressure,” Spieth said. “It was a first-time experience for me.”
Justin Bolli (66) and Brian Stuard (68) were another shot behind.
Brown became the fourth first-time tour winner this year, joining Russell Henley, John Merrick and Michael Thompson
Meanwhile in Santiago, Chile, Kisner followed up his 11-under round from Saturday with a 4-under 68 on Sunday at Prince of Wales Country Club to bring home his second career Web.com Tour title.
Kisner, one of three 54-hole co-leaders, played the final five holes 1-over par, but his 21-under 267 was enough to edge Brice Garnett (68) and Edward Loar (69) by one for the victory.
Kisner figured he might be in the mix despite playing poorly in Panama and Colombia.
“I don’t know why I won because I played so bad the last two weeks and missed the cut,” he said. “It wasn’t terrible, but my game wasn’t there and I wasn’t confident.
“This course just fit my eye really well. I knew when I played my first nine holes in the practice round that I’d have a chance here.”
Jeremy Timmerman contributed to this report.
U.S. Scott Brown, left, celebrates with his caddie after winning the Puerto Rico Open PGA golf tournament in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico, Sunday, March 10, 2013. (AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo)×
U.S. Scott Brown kisses the Puerto Rico Open PGA golf trophy after winning the tournament in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico, Sunday, March 10, 2013. (AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo)×