With a career-changing opportunity at hand last Sunday, Wesley Bryan never flinched. Neither the swirling wind that made every shot an adventure nor the challengers in the Web.com Tour’s Chitimacha Louisiana Open’s final round could shake his confidence.
Only after he posted a final 68 and waited to see if he would face a playoff for the title did nerves kick in. “Waiting on the range … that was a crazy, weird feeling,” he said.
Bryan, a former star at Dutch Fork High and the University of South Carolina, didn’t need to fret. No playoff was required to earn his first Web.com title in only his third start and – most important – took a giant step toward a place on the 2016-17 PGA Tour.
“Awesome,” he said afterward, and he could credit what his college coach Bill McDonald has called “an incredible wedge game. From 100 yards in, he’s the best.”
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Bryan needed that, especially in the final round. With wind playing havoc, he kept his round going with three up-and-downs on the back nine after, he said, “I hit (the ball) into some awful spots. The back nine was crazy; I want to say I one-putted six or seven greens. My (approach) shots would come up short or be 30 yards long.”
But what he called “a nice birdie” from 15 feet on No. 17 gave him a one-shot edge and his four-round total of 14-under 270 earned the $99,000 first-place check. Coupled with his third-place finish in the season’s first tourney, he has banked $119,156. The top 25 on the season-long money list advance to golf’s major league, and the cutoff fell at $162,070 last year.
“That’s obviously the goal, and this (win) makes the top 25 a lot easier,” Bryan said. “I can plan my schedule better now. I won’t feel like I have to play five weeks in a row now and I know I will sleep easier. (Winning) is a really big step in the right direction. I came into the season playing well and expected to play well.”
The tournament in Broussard, La. turned into a family affair. Brother George IV is his caddie when he doesn’t qualify for tournaments – and his partner of trick-shot video fame. And dad George III, mom Valerie from Chapin and wife Elizabeth from Augusta headed to Louisiana after Wesley opened with rounds of 66 and 65.
“It made a special day even better to have them there,” he said.
The Bryan brothers’ trick-shot artistry will always be a topic of conversation and admiration; indeed, they headed from Louisiana for Dallas to shoot another one after last Sunday’s triumph. But Wesley took a step toward bigger things and he said, “I’m closer to my dream.”
Clemson graduate student Stephen Behr has been named a finalist for the Byron Nelson award, presented annually to a senior for excellence in academics, golf, character and integrity while in college. A four-year starter, Behr graduated with a 3.91 grade average in finance and is the Tigers’ top player this year. … They could have played all day: Sue Churchich (Bluffton) and Dawn Woodard (Greer) needed eight playoff holes to defeat Lea Venable (Simpsonville) and Tiffany Robbins (Fort Mill) in the WSCGA State Team Championship. … Eddie Hargett (Blythewood) and Walter Todd (Laurens) joined forces to capture the SCGA Senior Four-Ball title. … Jalen Castle (West Columbia) won the girls’ title and Grant Sellers (McBee) earned the boys’ crown in the SCJGA Caddie Classic. … The South Carolina team captured the Can-Am Junior Team Matches, defeating the Canadian squad from the province of Ontario. … On the schedule: Columbia Golf Ball at the state fairgrounds, April 7 (tickets and information 803-732-9311); Order of the Eastern Star Disaster Relief tourney at Windermere, April 23 (803-576-4141); and Clemson Invitational College-Am, March 31 (www.clemsontigers.com).
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