SMI News - Australian Nick Flanagan wins the Henrico County Open
April 29, 2007
Contact: John Bush
GLEN ALLEN, VA – The Nationwide Tour continues to go global, with Australian Nick Flanagan the 50th international player to step into the winner’s circle with his victory Sunday at the Henrico County Open.
Flanagan shot a final-round 2-under 70 to finish the tournament tied with Bryn Parry (71), Chris Baryla (71) and Roland Thatcher (71) at 13-under 275. With Parry and Thatcher eliminated on the first and second extra holes, respectively, all Flanagan had to do was tap in a short two-foot birdie putt on the third extra hole (the par-5 18th) to eliminate Baryla for his first Nationwide Tour victory.
“I’m very happy to perform well under pressure,” said Flanagan, who hit 11 of 14 fairways in regulation and needed just 26 putts. “One of my goals this year was to win early. I’ve come close a couple of times, but this was definitely my best opportunity. I think I always knew it was going to happen it was just a matter of when. To do it in my second year on Tour is awesome.”
When the last putt dropped, you could sense the relief for Flanagan. According to many, winning on the Nationwide Tour was only a matter of time. In 2003, Flanagan set the golf world abuzz when he became the first Australian in 100 years to win the prestigious U.S. Amateur Championship – doing so at the tender age of 19 (an 18-year-old Tiger Woods in 1994 was the only younger winner). He turned professional as a 20-year-old in 2004 and despite a tie for 23rd place finish at the 2005 British Open, success came slowly. Many even second-guessed Flanagan for giving up his amateur status too early. He may have had some doubts, too, after failing to gain a PGA TOUR or Nationwide Tour card in 2005, and having to play on several mini-Tour circuits.
“This is a great weight off of my shoulders,” said Flanagan. “I’ve never really put all that much pressure on myself to win but it’s something that I wanted to do really bad. Some thought I turned pro too early, so this justifies that decision. I’m still only 22 years old. Hopefully there will be plenty more of these to come.”
Flanagan was solid during his rookie season on Tour in 2006, with 16 cuts made in 24 starts and a 32nd place finish on the money list. But the winner’s circle has proved elusive his first year and a half on Tour, despite posting 10 top-25 finishes and a career-best runner-up showing at the 2006 Price Cutter Charity Championship.
The victory was another in a long line of success on the Nationwide Tour by the Australian contingent. Flanagan, a native of New South Wales, Australia, becomes the 19th Aussie to win on Tour and the victory is the 28th overall by that group – both Tour records among international players. Even more important for Flanagan, the $81,000 first-place check moves him into The 25 with $112,077. Currently eighth on the money list, Flanagan finally has the PGA TOUR in his sights.
“I’m just trying to get to the PGA TOUR and I’ve found that it is not an easy thing to do,” said Flanagan. “But this definitely helps the cause. I’ve been taking baby steps … and the Nationwide Tour has helped me get my game to the level it needs to be to compete on the PGA TOUR.”
It appeared for awhile that third-round co-leader Parry was going to run away from the field and hide. Birdies on four of his first six holes temporarily led to a four-shot lead, but a bogey on the par-4 10th hole and a double bogey on the par-3 11th hole set up a typical Sunday Shootout on the Nationwide Tour. In addition to the four playoff participants, three players – Chris Smith, Greg Chalmers and Brad Elder – finished just one back.
Final Round News & Notes: Nick Flanagan also needed extra holes to defeat Casey Wittenberg at the 2003 U.S. Amateur, doing so in 37 holes … Chris Smith eagled two of his final four holes (Nos. 15 and 18) to pull into a tie for eighth place … With Flanagan’s come-from-behind victory, the leader/co-leaders after 54 holes have won just four of eight tournaments so far in 2007 … With Denis Watson finishing T43, it represents the 15th straight year the first-round leader has failed to go on to win in Richmond … The round of the day was turned in by Rick Price with a 5-under 67, helping him finish T8 … Todd Demsey, the only player on Tour to have made the cut in all eight starts this season, finished T23 … The toughest hole for the week was the par-4 eighth hole with a 4.413 average, while the par-5 second hole ranked as the easiest at 4.608 … The final round scoring average was 72.250, bringing the cumulative average for the week to 72.312 (compared to 73.428 a year ago) … The Nationwide Tour heads to Arkansas this week for the 10th annual Fort Smith Classic, the ninth event of the season. Darron Stiles parred the first playoff hole last year to defeat Michael Putnam.
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