ALUMNI UPDATE –MCNEILL WINS IN PUERTO RICO, WATSON RUNNER-UP AT DORAL

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By Ryan Woodcock

There was a lot of golf action this weekend, with the PGA TOUR hosting the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral and the Puerto Rico Open; while the Nationwide Tour was in Chile for the Chile Classic presented by Pacific Rubiales.

Let’s start in Puerto Rico, where another Gateway Pro Tour alum was crowned a winner on the PGA TOUR this season.  George McNeill shot rounds of 66-70-67-69 and finished at 16-under to beat Ryo Ishikawa by two shots, earning his second career victory (2007 Frys.com Open). 

McNeill had a one-shot lead heading into the final round, but couldn’t get much going in round four.  He was even-par through 15 holes (three birdies, three bogeys), but caught fire and broke away from the pack with three consecutive birdies to finish his round and secure the win.

“After I birdied 16 and actually walking up to the 17th green, after I hit my second shot is when I saw that he (Ryo) had the lead with me,” McNeill said.  “So I probably had about a 10 or 12‑footer there, and I said well, I need to make it.  Also, Henrik (Stenson) wasn’t too far behind, too, so it was not like it was an easy cake walk, but it was a nice way to win.”

McNeill earned a nice $630,000 paycheck for the win, and he jumped all the way up to 19th in the FedEx Cup standings.  His first win, which came more than five years ago, came in his rookie campaign.  Since then he’s had six runner-up finishes (two in a playoff) and no wins.

“I was really nervous, but I knew what I had to do, and basically I just had to bear down and get it done,” McNeill said. “If not, then somebody else was going to win. I was trying to basically have control of myself, and that’s all I was looking for.”

For the week, 21 GPT alums made the cut, with six finishing in Top-10 and 9 among the Top-15.

Matt Jones opened with rounds of 66-67 and finished the weekend 72-71 to finish T5 at 12-under par; while Kevin Stadler and Daniel Summerhays finished T7 at 11-under.  Stadler earned his second Top-10 and fifth Top-25 of the season, while Summerhays also turned in his second Top-10 outing of the year.

Blake Adams shook off his opening round 74 with three straight 68s to finish T9 at 10-under, while DeLaet recorded rounds of 69-70-68-71 to match Adams at 10-under.  Adams final-round 68 included four birdies on the final six holes for his best finish of the year.

Roberto Castro, William McGirt and Jeff Overton finished T14 at -8, while Edward Loar closed with a final-round 68 to finish T25 at 9-under.

For complete results from the Puerto Rico Open, CLICK HERE

WGC – CADILLAC CHAMPIONSHIPS

Out in Florida the players converged on Doral for the second WGC event of the year.  Bubba Watson followed up a pedestrian opening-round 70 with a 62 in round two, and was the third-round leader after his 67 on Saturday.  In the final round, Watson quickly saw his three-shot lead evaporate during a four-hole stretch, but he still had a chance at a playoff.  He hit a fantastic four-iron on 18 out of the palm trees to about 9 feet, giving him a chance at birdie and a playoff with Justin Rose.  But he couldn’t convert his birdie putt, and he ended up settling for second, his sixth career runner-up finish.  Despite his near miss, Watson continues his stellar 2012 season – he has two Top-5 finishes and has finished in the Top-20 in all six starts this year.  He currently sits 12th in the FedEx Cup standings.

For the week, seven GPT alums finished in the money, including Martin Laird, who finished T24 at 8-under, while Garth Mulroy and Gary Woodland finished T29 at 7-under par.  Chez Reavie and Branden Grace both started slowly with opening-round 78s, but rebounded nicely to finish T35 at 6-under par.  Reavie shot 68-67 in rounds 2 and 3, while Grace put together a spectacular third-round 64 that included a 30 on the front nine and a start that included eight birdies on the first 11 holes.

Brandt Snedeker finished T45 at 4-under, and stays in the Top-10 (9th) in the FedEx Cup standings.

For complete results from the WGC-Cadillac Championships CLICK HERE

NATIONWIDE TOUR – CHILE CLASSIC

In Santiago, Chile, playing at the Prince of Wales Country Club, a total of 32 GPT alums finished in the money at the Chile Classic.  Of those, two finished in the Top-5, five finished in the Top-10 and a total of seven placed in the Top-20. 

Alex Aragon and Rob Oppenheim were the highest finishers, shooting 16-under for the week to finish T4.  Aragon birdied the final hole to jump into the Top-5, while Oppenheim carded rounds of 69-65-69 to earn his sixth career Top-10 placing. 

Brice Garnett, Benjamin Alvarado and Camilo Benedetti all shot 14-under for the week and finished inside the Top-10 at T9.  Garnett recorded five birdies over the last 10 holes in the final round for his second career Top-10, while Alvarado shot 69 in the final round, including a birdie on the final hole, to jump into the Top-10.  Benedetti shot rounds of 67-69-68-70 to earn his eighth career Top-10 finish on the Nationwide Tour.

Rounding out the Top-25 are Lee Williams and Troy Merritt, who finished T17 at 12-under; and Aron Price, who closed with a final-round 67 to finish T23 at 11-under par.

For complete results from the Chile Classic, CLICK HERE.

Congrats again to George McNeill for earning his second career PGA TOUR victory, nice work George!  Next stop on the PGA TOUR is the Transitions Championship in Palm Harbor, Florida, Mar. 15-18.  GPT alum Gary Woodland is the defending champ; let’s see if he can go back-to-back.  The Nationwide Tour will take a week off before getting back to action Mar. 22-25 at the Chitimacha Louisiana Open.  Good luck to everyone playing this week, and as always, check back here next week for a complete recap!