Saxon Wins in Lima, Peru to become the first player to win on both PGA Tour China and PGA Tour Latin America
LIMA, Peru – Trailing by two shots with seven holes left to play, Charlie Saxon of Tulsa, Oklahoma, made a late charge with four birdies in five holes to pull away and win the Lexus Peru Open presentado por Diners Club International. The 24-year old closed an impressive bogey-free week at Los Inkas GC with a 67 to finish the 54-hole abbreviated event at 16-under 204.
Saxon won by a comfortable margin of four shots over Jimmy Beck III of Columbus, Georgia, who carded a 67 as well, and Nick Palladino of Cleveland, Ohio, who posted a 71. Palladino held the lead for a good portion of the day, but with Saxon charging, Palladino made bogeys on Nos. 15 and 17 to slip behind.
Juan Álvarez of Montevideo, Uruguay, claimed low Latin American honors, with a final-round-best, 7-under 65. At 10-under for the week, the 24-year old rookie finished tied for fourth with U.S. players Brian Richey (68), Michael Weaver (71) and Hank Lebioda (71).
“Any time you win a golf tournament it’s exciting. That’s why we play for,” said Saxon, who won twice on PGA TOUR China last year and played on the Web.com Tour this season. “I have struggled a little bit lately, so it’s really satisfying to get over the hump and play how I think I’m able to play. It was a great week for me.”
Saxon celebrates his four-shot win on Saturday. (Enrique Berardi/PGA TOUR)
The University of Oklahoma graduate was amused by the fact that he made no bogeys at the shortened event because of a forced curfew for all residents and visitors due to a national census the government held Sunday.
“That was crazy,” he said about a week in which he made one eagle, 14 birdies and 39 pars. “I have never done that before. I was thinking about it, and it’s bogey-free for 70 holes here (on PGA TOUR Latinoamérica). I didn’t make a bogey in the last 16 holes in Brazil (last Sunday), so it’s a great run and I’m glad I got hot like that. Obviously, it was a big key to my victory.”
Saxon entered the day tied for the lead with Palladino, who moved ahead with birdies on Nos. 3 and 4 to stay ahead for the following 10 holes. “Nick played some really good golf today. He was right there all day long and really forced me to have play my best,” said the champion.
With Saxon coming off birdies on Nos. 12 and 14 join Palladino at 14-under, the par-4 15th provided a two-shot swing, with Saxon making birdie and Palladino bogey. Keeping the pedal down, Saxon made a 12-footer for one last birdie at the next to move out of reach.
Collecting his second top-four in his last three starts on PGA TOUR Latinoamerica, Palladino was pleased with the outcome in a week he entered just hoping to secure his Tour card for 2018. “Knowing that I was around the lead at the beginning of the day, able to shoot a decent score and pushing at the end trying to catch up to Charlie gives me a lot of confidence. I know that my game can hang with anybody, and it’s just a matter of time before it’s my time,” said the 25-year old who now ranks 23rd in the Order of Merit.
Meanwhile, Saxon moved into the 11th spot, just outside the Order of Merit top 10 that secures exemptions for the final stage of the Web.com Tour Qualifying Tournament after this event. In their respective order, those players are José de Jesús “El Camarón” Rodríguez (Mexico), Jared Wolfe (U.S.), Nelson Ledesma (Argentina), José Toledo (Guatemala), Lebioda (U.S.), Tee-K Kelly (U.S.), Michael Buttacavoli (U.S.), Oscar Fraustro (Mexico), Rodolfo Cazaubón (Mexico) and Brandon Matthews (U.S.).
The battle for more PGA TOUR Latinoamérica honors will continue this coming week at the Roberto De Vicenzo Punta del Este Open Copa NEC, one of only four events left to play this year. Starting Thursday, the tournament will be played at Club del Lago Golf in Punta del Este, Uruguay, for the third consecutive year.
Note: Story Written by Gregory Villalobos for PGATourLA.com