Kannapolis, NC – Throughout much of Saturday’s final round at the eGolf Tour’s 10th annual Southern Open, West Waterford's Seamus Power trailed his playing partners while staring down the barrel of yet another top-5 in a breakthrough 2014 season.
That top-5 morphed into career win No. 4 late in the day at The Club at Irish Creek, as four birdies over his last seven holes delivered a final-round 65 and a 21-under-par tally, good for the first come-from-behind win of his career, and the event’s $13,500 first-place prize.
Power, who entered the week with three wins under his belt over the past two years, posted rounds of 67-65-66—198 (15-under) over the first three days at the Davis Love III course to slide into a three-way tie for second, trailing 54-hole leader Jack Fields of Southern Pines, NC with one round to go.
Fields, just a month removed from capturing his second career title at the Forest Oaks Classic, lost his approach shot to the par-4 first and had to chip-in for bogey in order to avoid a complete disaster through 15 minutes of the final round.
A follow-up bogey on the par-4 second took the former UNC Tar Heel star to 16-under par, but a much-needed birdie on the par-3 third put him back to just 1-over par on the day – still one clear of Power (who birdied No. 2) and two clear of fellow playing partner Vaita Guillaume of Tahiti.
The trio traded blows throughout much of the opening nine, with Fields turning in 1-under par and 19-under total thanks to birdies on Nos. 6 and 8, and Power tying Guillaume at 17-under par with matching 33s at the halfway point.
“I wasn’t getting any putts to fall on the front nine, but I was hitting it well, so I knew I’d have some chances,” said Power, 27. “Each time I’ve won out here, I’ve had the overnight lead, so I knew what Jack was going through today. I think that worked to my advantage.”
Guillaume birdied the 10th to pull within a shot of Fields before all three players birdied the short par-4 12th.
Power, after a good par save on the par-4 11th, hit a wedge to 15 feet on 12 to set up what felt like a must-make putt for birdie.
“I was furthest away when we got to the green there, so I needed to make that to avoid falling further back of them,” he said.
The trifecta of birdies took Fields to 20-under par, Guillaume to 19-under and Power to 18-under. Trailing by two with six to go, Power took over the golf tournament – with a little help from his group.
A solid up-and-down for birdie on the par-5 13th moved the Irishman into a tie for second at 19-under par, thanks to a pair of disappointing pars by Fields and Guillaume on the same hole.
On the par-5 14th, Power lost his second shot to the right of the green in the tall fescue grass, setting up a difficult pitch over greenside bunkers.
With Fields and Guillaume both on the green putting for eagle, Power chopped his third out to 25 feet above the hole, with a delicate putt coming downhill to a front pin. Before he could putt, Guillaume converted for eagle, suddenly ascending to 21-under par and in sole possession of the lead.
“When he made that putt, that pretty much made mine a must-make,” Power said. “I didn’t want to fall two behind at that point.”
Power converted the unlikely birdie try, in turn moving to 20-under for the week – just two back of Guillaume and Fields after a two-putt birdie moved Fields to 21-under par as well.
“Looking back on it, that putt kept me in it,” Power said.
On the par-3 15th, Guillaume pulled his tee shot left into a hazard, while Fields bailed out short and right on the downhill hole. After hitting his tee shot into a bunker, Power got up and down for par, and was able to pick up a shot on his playing partners after both walked away with late bogeys.
With three holes to play, the three were tied at 20-under par. After trailing for the first 15 holes of the day, Power had closed the gap.
First to blink was Fields, who entered the final round of play at 56-under par over his last 11 rounds on tour. An errant tee shot into a right hazard on the par-4 16th gave way to a bogey that took him to 19-under par – one back of the lead with two to go.
After a stout tee shot on the lengthy par-4 17th, Power laced an 8-iron to 5 feet to set up a go-ahead birdie, moving to 21-under par and one shot clear of Guillaume heading to the tee of the 245-yard par-3 finishing hole.
“After the birdie on 14, my goal was to get one more over the last four holes to see if it would be enough,” said Power, citing the brutal finishing holes at Irish Creek. “When they bogeyed 15, I felt like I just had to get another birdie, and I was able to do so on 17.”
On the 72nd hole, Power hit a hybrid off the tee to 25 feet, while Guillaume hit his to 18 feet, setting up drama on the 18th green.
First to putt was Power, who hit his birdie putt three-and-a-half feet past the hole, leaving Guillaume with a putt to tie.
The former Campbell Camel golfer, however, hit a perfect putt, only to watch it catch the lip and spin out three feet from the hole.
With just a short par try to go, Power converted, closing the week with a 6-under 65 and a 21-under 263 total for the first come-from-behind win of his professional career. The $13,500 payday pushed his 2014 earnings to $60,164 – nearly $26,000 clear of Fields, who earned $5,000 for a solo-third place finish.
“I was kind of hanging in there more than anything today, but I was able to do it,” said Power. “It’s such a good layout here. You know coming in that you’re going to have to make some birdies, and it just really suits my eye.”
Power’s 2014 campaign on the eGolf Tour has been nothing short of astounding, with career win No. 3 coming in March at the Cowans Ford Open, and nine top-6 finishes (including today’s win) helping to cement the former Buccaneer star as arguably the top developmental tour player in the country.
“This has been a good year so far, it’s been very consistent,” said Power, with one of the larger understatements in recent memory. “This week was a week when I didn’t have my ‘A’ long game, but mentally I was very good and my short game was sharp. It was just good enough to win.”
The Southern Open
The Club at Irish Creek, Par 71; 7,099 yards
1. Seamus Power, Ireland, $13,500.00, *67-65-66-65-263 -21
2. Vaita Guillaume, Papeete, Tahiti, $7,080.00, *67-63-68-66-264 -20
3. Jack Fields, Southern Pines, NC, $5,000.00, *65-64-66-70-265 -19
4. Fielding Brewbaker, Salem, VA, $4,000.00, *70-67-65-64-266 -18
5. Chip Lynn, Lillington, NC, $3,500.00, *71-67-64-65-267 -17
5. Taylor Floyd, Forsyth, GA, $3,500.00, *68-63-67-69-267 -17
5. Adam Stephenson, Greenville, NC, $3,500.00, *68-60-71-68-267 -17
8. Lanto Griffin, Blacksburg, VA, $2,850.00, *66-68-69-66-269 -15
8. Mitchell Krywulycz, Australia, $2,850.00, *69-66-67-67-269 -15
8. Chad Chancey, Blackshear, GA, $2,850.00, *68-67-65-69-269 -15
8. Jesse Hutchins, Kirkersville, OH, $2,850.00, *65-64-70-70-269 -15