Sunday, May 6, 2012
Hudson Swafford wins N'wide event
ATHENS, Ga. -- Former University of Georgia player Hudson Swafford won the Stadion Classic on his old college course, closing with a 9-under 62 on Sunday for a one-stroke victory.
The tour rookie holed out from a greenside bunker for birdie on the par-4 18th to post 17-under 267, then had to wait 90 minutes for the rest of the players to complete the round.
"I couldn't see it. I heard it hit the pin and then I heard everybody just go nuts. When I went up there and saw it had disappeared, I blacked out to be honest," Swafford said. "To hole out a bunker shot to win a golf tournament is amazing."
Two-time U.S. Open champion Lee Janzen and Luke List, coming off a victory last week in the South Georgia Classic, each shot 65 to tie for second. Janzen birdied the final five holes and seven of the last eight. List birdied the 17th for a share of the lead, but hit a tree with his approach on 18 and closed with a bogey.
Swafford earned $99,000 for his first tour victory to jump from 61st to seventh on the money list with $122,123. The final top 25 on the money list will earn 2013 PGA Tour cards.
"This is unbelievable. My first win is huge and to be in Athens, words don't describe it," Swafford said. "I couldn't have drawn it up any better. The way it happened is a dream come true.
"This is just a starting point. This is no time to get comfortable. I'm still a long way from where I need to be. I'm another win away from getting anything done."
Swafford is the second straight Georgia player to win the event. Last year, former teammate Russell Henley won as an amateur while still playing for the Bulldogs.
Swafford, three strokes back entering the round, three-putted the first hole for a bogey.
"I just stuck to my game plan," he said. I gave myself a lot of chances after that."
Swafford birdied Nos. 5, 6 and 7 to pull within three strokes.
"Winning wasn't crossing my mind at that point. The back nine can be penal with all the water, but you can score on it," he said. "You never know what can happen. This is the craziest game ever."
Swafford birdied Nos. 11, 12 and 13, then holed a 10-foot birdie putt on No. 16 and an 8-footer on No. 17.
"When I was standing on 18 tee I told my caddie we needed to get at least one more," he said. "I knew Luke had some holes left."
Swafford's tee shot found the right rough, and he pulled his 7-iron into the bunker.
"It wasn't that hard of a shot to be honest, but it just didn't cut," he said. "I was actually relieved when I saw it in a flat area and not up against the lip. I thought I could get it up and down but my caddie said, `Shoot, you've got to hole it."
Caddie Ryan Baucom, a former walk-on football player at North Carolina, turned out to be prophetic when Swafford clanked in the winner.
"Talking about it and doing it are two different things," Swafford said. "The feeling, that roar. It was surreal."