(Via Mackenzie Tour – Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada)— The 2018 Lethbridge Paradise Canyon Open went down to the wire on Sunday, as T.T. Crouch emerged victorious from a three-man playoff featuring Zach Wright and Chris Williams at Paradise Canyon Golf Club.
Crouch came up clutch on the 18th hole as well as on each of the two playoffs holes, making birdie on all three to pick up the victory.
It looked as if Crouch would need to eagle his final hole of the day to match Zach Wright, who, one group ahead of the final pairing, had found the 18th green safely in two while already holding a one-stroke lead.
While Wright struck the ball phenomenally all day long, his putter got cold at the wrong time. Wright had already narrowly missed 10 and 15-foot birdie chances respectively on both 16 and 17 before staring down a 35-footer for eagle on 18.
Wright hit his first putt strong, leaving a knee-knocker of a 6-footer to take a two-stroke lead. Crouch watched from the fairway as Wright missed the comeback attempt, opening the door for the final group.
“I was looking at the scoreboard and, seeing Zach didn’t make birdie on 18 I knew I needed birdie just to tie,” said Crouch. “That was great, because on the tee I thought I needed eagle to tie, so walking up, knowing he only made par, I realized I was only one back.”
Leaving his approach in the front bunker, the crowd rose to their feet as Crouch’s third shot, which would have been for the win, came about as close as a ball can possibly go without entering the cup.
“I loved it out of the bunker,” said the Mt. Vernon, Ohio native. “My caddie and I both thought it was going to go in. It was creeping towards the left side of the hole, and it was so neat to have the crowd around, I got goosebumps after it almost went in; that would have been a great way to win it.”
Williams, who had pitched his third to 10-feet past the pin, handled his downhill attempt delicately, and watched it enter as he was the first to join Wright at 23-under. Crouch converted his 3-foot leave from the sand as the trio headed back to the 18th tee.
William’s par on the first playoff hole wasn’t enough, as birdies by Wright and Crouch sent the duo back to do it all over again. Crouch found the fairway with his drive and hit an iron to 50-feet while Wright came up short of the green and pitched his third to 12-feet.
Crouch’s attempt came up six feet short, but a Wright miss opened the door for Crouch, who would make no mistake, finding the back of the cup and winning the tournament without having led for a single second.
“My golf coach in college was a sports psychologist and he told me, ‘if you’re not nervous, then something’s wrong’, so that made me think that it’s ok to be nervous, and to be comfortable being uncomfortable,” said Crouch. “I’m not going to lie, I was more nervous on the 3-footer in regulation after I almost made that bunker shot than I was making that one in the playoff.”
Sunday’s win is Crouch’s first on the Mackenzie Tour, who got into the Lethbridge field on the Saturday evening prior to tournament week as the final registrant in the Web.com category.
Crouch booked his flight for Sunday morning, and almost exactly, to the hour, one week later, Crouch held the trophy proudly over his head.
“Knowing I can win on the Mackenzie Tour just goes to show I can win anywhere. Whether it’s the PGA TOUR, Web.com Tour or here,” said Crouch. “There’s a lot of good players here, and a lot of good players came from here, so that helps the confidence.”
The win catapults Crouch all the way into the fifth spot on the Order of Merit with his $36,000 cheque. Leading the charge is Zach Wright, who, with his T2 finish this week, is up to $59,500, $12,083 ahead of second-place Sam Fidone.
Meanwhile, the Freedom 55 Financial Canadian Player of the Week Award was given to Taylor Pendrith, who receives a $2,500 bonus from Freedom 55 Financial with his 16-under T14 finish.