Potomac, Md. – David Lingmerth fired a 4-under 66 Sunday to come from behind and win the Web.com Tour’s Neediest Kids Championship, his first win as a professional.
The victory was worth $108,000 and vaulted the former Arkansas Razorback from No. 27 to No. 7 on the money list with only two full field events left before the Tour Championship.
His season total of $249,043 will be more than enough to guarantee the 25-year old a berth on the PGA TOUR in 2013 as the top-25 at the end of the year will earn playing privileges next year.
“It feels fantastic,” said Lingmerth as he waited greenside for the trophy presentation. “I’ve been working my whole life for an opportunity to play with the big boys. This is huge because I’ve been close a few times. It took me a little while but this feels great.”
Lingmerth was nearly perfect on a cold, damp day outside the nation’s capital. His 8-under 272 turned out to be one better than two-time winner Casey Wittenberg, who missed a 40-foot birdie putt by inches on the 72nd hole which would have forced a playoff.
Australian Alistair Presnell (69) and Tennessee’s Phillip Pettitt (69) tied for third, two shots back. Chris Wilson (70), winner of the Price Cutter Charity Championship, was another shot back and solo fifth.
Morgan Hoffmann (68) and Bronson La’Cassie (69) tied for sixth place behind Lingmerth, who was red-hot on a day that barely cracked 50 degrees.
“I was actually fist-pumping in the car coming over this morning,” he said. “I knew it was going to be lousy weather. This is a good day in Sweden.”
Lingmerth kept it simple by hitting a lot of fairways (12 of 14) and greens (14 of 18) and steadily put together the days’ best score. The field average of 73.333 made it the toughest final round of the year and the toughest since the 2008 Panama Claro Championship.
“I was really calm all day,” said the winner. “You’ve really got to golf your ball out here. The key ingredient this week was that I finally got to make some putts. I knew I wasn’t putting up to my ability this year and I finally found a feeling that I like.”
Three of Lingmerth’s five birdies on Sunday were from inside two feet. He added a 10-footer at No. 6 and rolled his final one in from 20 feet at No. 14 to get to 9-under par.
“I didn’t look at the leaderboard until I was on 13 and saw that my 7-under was leading. Then I made two in a row,” he said. “I knew it was mine for the taking and I kept telling myself I wanted to get to 10 (under).”
He remained at 9-under until the 18th, when he pushed his tee shot into the heavy rough and was forced to lay up on the 463-yard, par-4.
“I didn’t even get a yardage to the pin,” he said. “I was pretty confident I couldn’t get the ball to the green. I felt good with my wedges and knew if I could make a par it was probably going to work out. With a bogey, I’m still okay. I could live with a bogey.”
Lingmerth’s 25-foot par attempt barely missed and he was forced to wait and see if anyone of the nine players still on the course could catch him.
Wittenberg made a furious rally on the back nine after a front-nine 38 nearly dropped him out of contention. He chalked up birdies at Nos. 10, 12, 14 and 16 to get back within range but missed birdie chances on his final two holes.
Lingmerth had finished about 45 minutes earlier and was in the locker room stretching, just in case he needed to go back out. He did, but it wasn’t to play, it was to join the closing ceremony as the tournament winner.
* Lift, clean and place conditions were in effect for the fourth round.
* Sunday’s weather: Mostly cloudy with rain showers. Rainfall: 0.10”. Wind light and variable. High of 52.
* Garrett Willis withdrew prior to the start of the round.
* David Lingmerth earned a first-place check for $108,000 and moved from No. 27 to No. 7 on the money list.
* David Lingmerth is the 15th first-time winner in 24 events on Tour this year.
* David Lingmerth of Sweden is the fourth foreign-born winner on Tour this year. He joins Alex Aragon (Mexico), Nick Flanagan (Australia) and James Hahn (South Korea) in that category.
* The highest winning scores (vs. par) this year on Tour:
4-under par Edward Loar Panama Claro Championship
8-under par Andres Gonzales Soboba Golf Classic
8-under par David Lingmerth Neediest Kids Championship
* Final rounds with above-par scoring average this year:
Neediest Kids Championship par 70 73.333 +3.333
Panama Claro Championship par-70 72.286 +2.286
Soboba Golf Championship par-71 72.056 +1.056
Nationwide Children’s Hosp. Inv. par-71 71.742 +0.742
United Leasing Championship par-71 71.639 +0.639
* Today’s scoring average of 73.333 marked the highest final-round average since 2008:
2007 Livermore Valley Wine Country Champ. par-72 75.934 +3.934
2008 Panama Claro Championship par-70 73.677 +3.677
2012 Neediest Kids Championship par-70 73.333 +3.333
2009 Miccosukee Championship par-71 74.048 +3.048
* Third-round leader Josh Persons shot a 7-over 77 and wound T8. Persons was 8-under and even for the day when he lost a ball on No. 6 and made double-bogey. He would pencil in four more bogeys before finally making his only birdie of the day at No. 14. His top-25 finish earned him a berth in next week’s Miccosukee Championship near Miami.
* Tom Hoge was one shot back to start the day (-7) and was even through nine holes when he gave away five shots to par on the first three holes of the back nine. He finished with a 76 and tied for eighth.
* Casey Wittenberg’s runner-up finish was his seventh top-10 in 21 starts. His check for $64,800 moved vaulted him from No. 2 to No. 1 on the money list again. This is the third different time Wittenberg has been No. 1 overall.
* Casey Wittenberg has now earned $407,453 this season with three events left on the schedule. Last year’s leading money winner and Player of the Year, J.J. Killeen earned $414,273. Wittenberg leads No. 2 Luke Guthrie (m/c) by $24,990.
* There was plenty of movement on the money list this week, especially from the top finishers:
1. David Lingmerth No. 27 to No. 7
2. Casey Wittenberg No. 2 to No. 1
3. Alistair Presnell No. 55 to No. 39
3. Phillip Pettitt No. 51 to No. 35
5. Chris Wilson No. 33 to No. 28
6. Morgan Hoffmann No. 43 to No. 34
6. Bronson La’Cassie No. 99 to No. 75
* This week’s Neediest Kids Championship is the 24th event of 27 on the 2012 Web.com Tour schedule.
* TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm underwent a $32M renovation, which began Aug. 13, 2007. The clubhouse reopened on July 22, 2008 and the golf course reopened for play on April 28, 2009. Prior to the renovation, the course measured 6.987 yards and played to a par-71. This week the players are playing a course that measures 7,139 yards and for a par of 70. Ben Curtis won the 2006 Booz-Allen Classic by five shots with a 20-under par score.
* Course statistics for the week:
Front 9 (35) Back 9 (35) Total (70)
R1 35.681 35.528 71.208
R2 36.261 36.210 72.471
R3 36.060 36.045 72.105
R4 36.394 36.939 73.333
Cumulative 36.048 36.063 72.111
* The Web.com Tour will head to south Florida next week for the Miccosukee Champoionship near Miami. The tournament will be played at Miccosukee Golf & Country Club Oct. 8-14. Last year, Jason Kokrak pulled away from the field on the final day to win by a tournament-record seven strokes, collecting his second win in five weeks. Kokrak started the final round with a three-stroke lead and was never seriously threatened en route to a 20-under 264 total, which also set a tournament record.