SASKATOON, SK (July 11, 2010) ___American Will Wilcox sure knows how to make the most of a sponsor’s exemption.
Playing this week on a free pass, the 24-year-old from Alabama jarred a 15-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole Sunday to edge compatriot Brady Stockton and win the Canadian Tour’s $250,000 Dakota Dunes Casino Open.
Wilcox closed with a 6-under 66 to finish four trips around Dakota Dunes at 25-under 263, one shot clear of Stockton. New Zealand’s Josh Geary, who won in Saskatoon in 2008, and Garrett Frank placed third, a distant five shots off the pace.
Californian Cody Slover posted a course record 11-under 61 to vault into fifth with fellow American Wil Collins and Edmonton’s Danny Sahl. Brad Fritsch of Manotick, Ont. (64) and Kris Wasylowich of Lethbridge, Alb. (66) finished in ninth at 18-under. Fritsch’s round included an ace on the 17th hole.
“This is great, just unbelievable,” said an elated Wilcox, who took home $40,000 for the triumph. “This is really going to have a positive impact on my career going forward. Life just changed for me. This is great stuff.”
Both Wilcox and Stockton traded shots down the backstretch at Dakota Dunes and it was beginning to look like last birdie would win – which is exactly how the final moments unfolded. Neck and neck at the turn, Stockton birdied 11, 12 and 13 to pull ahead by one before Wilcox answered with birdies of his own at 13 and 14. Stockton made long putts on 16 and 17 to save par and remain even.
On the par-5 closing hole, Wilcox hit his second shot into a greenside bunker and blasted out to 15 feet. Seconds after Stockton failed to knock in his 18-foot birdie attempt, Wilcox stepped up and canned his winner.
“I thought for sure he was going to make that putt on 18,” Wilcox added, referring to Stockton. “We had quite the battle down the stretch and he seemed to be making everything.”
Wilcox will now have to alter his travel plans for the coming week, although he isn’t complaining. Originally scheduled to compete in a minitour event in Texas, he will stay north of the 49th for this week’s $300,000 Players Cup in Winnipeg. In fact, he’s now fully exempt on the Canadian Tour through 2012.
“It’s a no-brainer,” said Wilcox. “My decision was all based on how I played today but now I don’t even have to think about it. That’s some serious money.
“I’m going to Winnipeg.”
NOTES: The 25-under winning score was three shots shy of the all-time Tour record for lowest winning score relative to par, set by Brian Unk at the 2009 Seaforth Country Classic…Former Canadian Tour star Peter Tomasulo, who won the Montreal Open in 2005, rallied with a final-day 10-under 61 Sunday to with the Nationwide Tour’s Ford Wayne Gretzky Classic in Clarksburg, Ontario.