ALUMNI UPDATE – 2011 GPT MEMBER STEVE FRIESEN EARNS FIRST CAREER NATIONWIDE TOUR WIN

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By Ryan Woodcock

Congratulations go out to Steve Friesen, a current member of Gateway Pro Tour, for his five-shot victory this past weekend on the Nationwide Tour’s Price Cutter Charity Championship in Springfield, Mo.  The win was the first Nationwide Tour victory of his career, and came in just his second Nationwide Tour event of the 2011 season.  He had played in six events on the GPT in 2011 (best finish a T4 at Grayhawk on June 17) before he got into the field at last week’s Cox Classic thanks to a sponsor exemption.  He finished T49, good enough to earn him a spot in the field for the Price Cutter, and well, the rest is history.

Friesen didn’t waste any time in Missouri, shooting an opening-round 10-under 62 for a two-shot lead.  He then shot a pair of 68s on Friday and Saturday to get to 18-under, good enough for a share of the third-round lead with Travis Hampshire at 18-under par.

He didn’t let up off the pedal on Sunday, shooting a bogey-free 64 that included birdies on four of the last five holes, and three straight to close out his round and wrap up his first career Nationwide Tour win.

“It’s been a magical week,” Friesen said following his round.  “There are so many great players on this Tour that I knew I had to go real low today.  When you have an opportunity like this you want to take advantage of it.”

Friesen played nearly flawless, carding only one bogey over the 72-holes (second round) and he was bogey-free over the final 49 holes of the tournament.

“The putter was the difference this week,” he said.  “It just clicked.  I rolled it well and that’s what it takes out here.”

Friesen earned $112,500 for the win, and made a huge jump from 208th to 23rd on the all-important money list, or THE 25 as they call it.

For the week, 24 former GPT players made the cut, with two finishing in the Top-5 and eight in the Top-20.  Josh Broadaway was in the hunt along with Friesen all tournament, shooting rounds of 66-65-68-69 to finish T3 at 20-under par.  It was his third Top-5 finish in his last five tournaments, and he jumped from 26th to 12th on THE 25.

A group of four players – Nicholas Thompson, Tyrone van Aswegen, Ken Duke and James Hahn – finished T13 at 16-under; James Hahn and Rob Oppenheim finished T20 at 15-under; and David Lutterus shot 14-under par to finish T25.

Speaking of THE 25, there are currently 13 former GPT players on THE 25, led by Troy Kelly, who currently sits in third.  Kelly is followed by Kyle Thompson (4th), Ted Potter (8th), Steve Wheatcroft (9th), Broadaway (12th), Garth Mulroy (15th), Martin Flores (17th), Matt Davidson (18th), Jeff Gove (19th), Christian (22nd), Friesen (23rd), Roberto Castro (24th) and Matt Every (25th).

For complete results from the Price Cutter Charity Classic, CLICK HERE http://www.pgatour.com/h/leaderboard/.  For a look at the current THE 25, CLICK HERE http://www.pgatour.com/h/stats/info/?109

PGA CHAMPIONSHIP

The PGA TOUR held its last major of the year, the PGA Championship, at Atlanta Athletic Club in Johns Creek, Georgia.  It came down to a playoff after Keegan Bradley made up a five-shot deficit following his triple-bogey on 15, and he defeated Jason Dufner in the aggregate 3-hole playoff for his first major victory.  Bradley actually has some ties to the Gateway Pro Tour; he played in a collegiate event in Florida back in 2008 while he was playing at St. John’s University.

Gary Woodland and Brendan Steele were the high finishers among former GPT players.  Woodland shot rounds of 70-70-71-68 to finish T12 at 1-under par.  He actually made a bogey on the final hole that would have moved him into the Top-10, but still not a bad effort for his first PGA Championship start.  Woodland made the cut in all four Majors this year, one of only 11 players to do so in 2011.

Brendan Steele actually had a share of the third-round lead at 7-under after shooting 69-68-66 thru 54 holes, but he ran into some trouble in the final round.  Steele opened with a bogey on the first hole in the final round, and was 4-over as he made the turn.  He just couldn’t get things going on the last day, and finished with a 7-over 77 in the final round, dropping him to a T19 at even-par for the tournament.

Bubba Watson shot 1-over for the tournament to finish T28 with Spencer Levin, while Bill Lunde finished T39 at 4-over par.  Watson joins Woodland as one of only 11 to make the cut in all four majors.

Rounding out the former GPT players in the field this week that made the cut are Robert Garrigus and Kevin Streelman (T62) and Sean O’Hair (T64).

For complete results from the 2011 PGA Championship, CLICK HERE http://www.pga.com/pgachampionship/2011/scoring/index.cfm

Next week the PGA TOUR heads to North Carolina for the Wyndham Classic, Aug. 18-21, while the Nationwide Tour heads to Kansas for the Midwest Classic, Aug. 18-21.  Congratulations Steve Friesen on your first career Nationwide Tour win! 

Good luck to everyone next week!