ALUMNI UPDATE –WATSON FINISHES 4TH AT ARNOLD PALMER, GOMEZ RUNNER-UP ON NATIONWIDE TOUR

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By Ryan Woodcock

Bubba Watson continues his torrid start to the PGA TOUR season, shooting 5-under 283 to finish T4 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, his third Top-5 of the season.  Watson has finished T18 or better in all seven of his starts, and with his third Top-5 finish he moves up to 11th in the FedEx Cup standings.  He got off to a rough start on the final day, opening his round with three straight bogeys, but he bounced back and carded birdies on two of the last four holes to jump into the Top-5. 

For the week, a total of 22 Gateway Pro Tour alums finished in the money at Bay Hill, with two finishing in the Top-15 and five finishing in the Top-25. 

Chris Stroud was the second highest finisher among former GPT players, finishing T15 at 3-under -285.  He opened with rounds of 70-69-72 and was looking at a possible Top-5 finish before three bogeys on the back nine drop him back to T15.  Still, Stroud is having a solid 2012 season, making five of eight cuts and finishing T15 or better in all of those five tournaments.  He has finished T5, T9 and T15 in his last three starts, and currently stands 48th in the FedEx Cup standings.

Kevin Chappell, Matt Every and Jimmy Walker all finished T24 at 1-under par, while Sean O’Hair and J.B. Holmes finished T29 at even-par.  Walker rebounded from a third-round 76 with a 70 in the final round, which included birdies on two of the last four holes to earn his fourth Top-25 of the year.  Every matched Walker with birdies on two of the last four holes for his third Top-25 of the year, while Chappell turned in his best outing of the season.

Jeff Overton made some news on Sunday at Bay Hill, but probably not the way he had hoped.  He had one of those rounds that you try to forget, which concluded with him hitting three balls in the water on the difficult par-4 18th finishing hole, and took a quintuple-bogey nine.  If that’s not enough, he also carded a quadruple-bogey eight on the par-4 13th hole and finished with a 12-over 84.  Despite his struggle, Overton shook it off and laughed as he approached the 18th green to standing applause from those in the gallery.  Still, Overton has played well in 2012, only missing one cut (actually he was forced to WD), and finishing in the Top-20 in his three starts prior to the Arnold Palmer.  He’s not the first to run into trouble on that hole, and he won’t be that last.  Look for Overton to shake it off next week in Houston!

For complete results from the Arnold Palmer Invitational, CLICK HERE

NATIONWIDE TOUR – CHITIMACHA LOUISIANA OPEN

The Nationwide Tour got back to action this week for the Chitimacha Louisiana Open at Le Triomphe Country Club.  Fabian Gomez, winner of this event two years ago, nearly won for the second time, finishing T2 at 16-under 268.  He opened with rounds of 69-66, shot a 68 on Saturday and closed with a bogey-free 65 in the final round that included clutch birdies on the last two holes to jump into a tie for second with Chris Riley and Paul Claxton.  His performance moved him 58th to 10th on THE 25.

For the week, 23 GPT alums made the cut, with four finishing in the Top-10 and 9 in the Top-20.  Camilo Benedetti and Rob Oppenheim both cracked the Top-5, finishing T5 at 15-under par. 

Benedetti finished with birdies on the last two holes to earn his second Top-10 of the year, jumping from 31st to 18th on THE 25; while Oppenheim rebounded from two bogeys on the back nine with birdies on 17 and 18 to match Benedetti at 15-under.  Oppenheim moved up to 12th from 20th on THE 25.

Andrew Svoboda earned his second Top-10 of the year, finishing T10 at 14-under 270.  He opened the final round with three straight birdies, and added an eagle on the back nine to crack the Top-10.  He currently stands 6th on THE 25.

Rounding out the Top-20 for GPT alums are Lee Williams, who finished 17th at 12-under par; and a host of players that included Andres Gonzales, Justin Hicks, Steve Wheatcroft and Adam Hadwin who all finished T18 at 11-under. 

For complete results from the Chitimacha Louisiana Open, CLICK HERE

That wraps up another week of golf on the PGA TOUR and Nationwide Tour.  Next week the Nationwide Tour takes a break while the PGA TOUR heads to Texas for the Shell Houston Open, Mar. 29 – April 1.  Check back here next week for a recap of all the action, and find out which former GPT players will be competing in The Masters the following week.

Good luck everyone!