Grob grabs another tour title
ATB Financial Classic victory pushes winnings over $400,000
Mike Grob tried to close the door once but it wasn’t until he slammed it shut with an eagle at the 14th hole Sunday that he could breathe a sigh of relief.
The two-under score on the par 5 hole lifted the 43-year-old Montanan out of a birdie shootout and set him on his way to a three-shot victory in the $150,000 ATB Financial Classic at the Elks Club.
Grob’s fifth Canadian Tour triumph was worth $24,000, moved him to second on the season’s Order of Merit with $37,000 and pushed his all-time career tour earnings to a little more than $402,000.
The one-time PGA Tour player finished off the 72-hole affair with a six-under-par 66 for an overall score of 24-under 264, just three shots shy of the tour record for lowest winning score on a par 72 course.
“Hey, if I’d known that, I wouldn’t have made all those bogeys today,” laughed Grob, who had three in the final 18 after just suffering one bogey during the first 54 holes. “I was fortunate enough to make enough birdies to offset them.
“But that’s by far the most under par I’ve ever been.”
Grob started the day one shot back of playing partner Alan McLean, the transplanted Scot from London, Ont., and quickly wiped out birdies at the first and third holes with bogeys at the fourth (three-putt) and fifth (errant tee shot) holes.
“That was a bit scary,” said Grob, “because sometimes it turns you around and it doesn’t come back. Those two bogeys kind of let everyone back into the tournament but I was fortunate enough to make birdies at the seventh and eighth holes, make the turn the couple under and I thought I played the back nine fairly well.”
That was the first turning point for the one-time PGA Tour player.
The second came at the 540yard, 14th as he clung to a oneshot lead over first-round leader Josh Geary, course record shooter Matt Bettencourt and hard-charging Joseph Lanza.
“I had to hit a 7-iron exactly perfect,” said Grob of his second shot to the par 5 that stopped within two feet of the cup. I saw the scoreboard and saw that I was just one ahead of a couple of guys. After that I was three ahead so . . . “
Even though he made a bogey at the par 4, 15th from the trees, he added birdies at 16 and 17 to ward off all evil.
“I really expected people to keep making birdies and birdies and birdies but it didn’t seem to turn out that way,” added Grob. “The last few holes on the back nine didn’t give up much . . . they were playing tough.”
There also were two turning points for McLean, who wound up second despite a closing 70 for a 267.
After playing what he described as tentative front nine, he failed to bang home a birdie at the par 5 10th after striping a 3-iron shot into the wind that went long and left him with a tough downslope lie above the pin. Grob had been forced to lay up on the hole.
Then came the cranked him up.
He tried to thread a wedge shot through a V in a tree at the par 4, 13th, clipped a branch and saw the ball flie 20 yards out of bounds. He managed to save bogey but was steamed.
“I was just incapable of getting the ball to the hole . . . it was a total lack of aggression and I don’t know what I can attribute it to,” said the 37-year-old transplanted Scot. “But when the ball went out of bounds I got angry and made a bagful of birdies coming in.
“I hate to think I play my best golf when I’m mad, but that’s what happened today. Maybe somebody should have hit me on the shin on the first hole.” McLean, who received $14,400, had four birdies and a bogey (No. 17) over the last five holes to finish two shots ahead of the American trio of Bettencourt (67), Geary (69) and Lanza (67).
Ontario professionals Derek Gillespie and Richard Scott shared low Canadian honours with Canadian amateur team member Kris Wasylowich of Lethbridge at 14-under 274.
Calgary’s Wes Martin and Arizonan Ben Hayes shared low score of the day with 65s.
The tour heads to Edmonton this week for the Telus Open.