RENO — One of the longest droughts in professional sports came to a happy end Sunday afternoon.
Greg Chalmers, who has only conditional status on the PGA Tour this season, ended a streak of 385 PGA Tour starts without a win by capturing the 18th annual Barracuda Championship Sunday at Montreux Country Club.
The left-handed Chalmers, who scored just four points on the day, dropped in a 9-foot eagle putt at the par-5th 18th to finish with 43 points for the tournament.
Gary Woodland, the 2013 champion, also scored four points to finish with 37. Colt Knost scored 10 points to finish third at 35. Fourth place went to veteran Tim Herron, who scored 13 points to finish with 34. Brendan Steele tallied 12 points to finish in a fifth-place tie at 32 points along with Steve Wheatcroft, who scored five points on the day.
Chalmers, who was doused with champagne by some Australian friends, was surprisingly calm when he entered the media room for his post-tournament press conference.
“You’re right, it was just a matter of time,” he said. “ I hoped it wasn’t 386 events, but it’s hard. It’s hard to win and I’m very thrilled and very pleased to get it done this week. I knew today would be difficult, and we had difficult conditions.
“Quite fortunate, I think, that Gary (Woodland) didn’t birdie the last hole. That would have put a lot of pressure on me. But to come down the last hole and have a 7-iron into a par-5 knowing you’ve only got to make par, it was a nice feeling. I was very happy. I’m trying not to cry.”
Woodland, playing in the group ahead of Chalmers, hit an 8-iron into the greenside bunker and then three-putted for a bogey, dropping him to 37. All Chalmers needed was a par to win, but the 42-year-old left no doubt, hitting a 7-iron from 200 yards to within 10 feet of the cup and then draining the putt.
The win earned Chalmers a two-year exemption, and he gets to play in the rest of the regular-season tournaments, including the British Open in two weeks. He also earned $576,000, his biggest-ever paycheck.
“Just to get back on the PGA Tour, I can’t tell you how exciting that is,” he said. “This is a real fork in the road for my career, and it’s in the right direction. And so I’m very thankful and very elated that it came at this point.
“Right now I’m really looking forward to the British Open. I’ll chat with my family. I really want to go play the Canadian Open.”
Chalmers has played in four previous British Opens, and he said it’s always exciting to play in the prestigious tournament.”
And, what made the day even more special is that he won his first tournament with his dad in attendance.
“My parents are over and my father just comes out to travel with me when my mom and my kids and my family are staying back in Dallas,” Chalmers said. “He just likes to come out and watch golf. He plays, so it’s good for us as father and son. He is 72 now. It’s good for us to bond and chat, and solve the world’s problems every night. That helped me relax and go out and play.”
It was a frustrating finish for Woodland.
He opened his round with seven straight pars, and then he missed the fairway on the par-5 8th, leading to a bogey. He chunked his second shot, hit his third into a greenside bunker and missed a 13-footer to drop to plus-32.
He came back on No. 9, burying a 7-footer to get back to 34. After three straight pars, he knocked in birdie putts of 16 (at 13) and 1-feet (at 14), respectively, to move into a tie with 38 points.
He was unable to seal the deal, however. He parred 15, 16 and 17, and bogeyed 18. That was a killer, considering the hole is reachable in two.
Woodland used a 2-iron off the tee and then hit an 8-iron into the greenside bunker. After blasting out, he three-putted from 17 feet.
“It’s frustrating,” Woodland said. “I executed down the stretch. I hit it beautifully. I made the good putt there on 13, and that was the end of it. I didn’t make any putts coming down the stretch. Gave myself a lot of chances, but unfortunately I just couldn’t get one to go in.
“I hit the second one (on 18) like I wanted to. I thought it was too much. I didn’t see where it landed. It was the same number I had three years ago here (on 18).”
Knost was pleased with his finish. He birdied three of his final six holes, including No. 18.
“I stole some (points) today, but I threw a lot away,” he said. “Honestly, all week I just didn’t strike it very well. My short game saved me a lot.
“It’s another good week (overall). Yeah, I just wasn’t comfortable with the ball all week, and to get this result was pretty good.”
Herron, who has conditional PGA Tour status, birdied five of his last 10 holes en route to a 13-point day.
He dropped in a 5-footer for birdie on 12, nailed a 16-footer on the par-5 13th, chipped in from 69 feet on No. 15, and capped his back nine with a 4-footer.
“I haven’t worked real hard but I knew my game was still kind of there, so it was kind of nice to put together,” Herron said. “I jacked a couple of putts that were inside 4 feet - the first hole. But I just kind of hung in there.”
Steele, who had a scoreless Saturday, got off to a slow start with bogeys on Nos. 2 and 3, and then birdied three of his last four on the front to get to plus-24.
He started the back nine with five straight pars, but then caught fire and birdied his last four holes thanks to putts of 10, 19, 7 and 4 feet, respectively, to get to 32 and another top-10 finish in the event.
“I didn’t play the front nine very well the whole week,” Steele said. “ Fortunately made kind of a long one on six and chipped it in on seven and that got me going a little bit there. I kind of slowed down again at the beginning of the back nine, and was getting pretty frustrated, but then to close out with four straight birdies makes it feel better.”
“I’m pretty happy with everything. It’s kind of different every week. I putted really well this week. I didn’t putt well last week. I hit it as good as I could last week, but wasn’t quite as sharp this week.”