The final round of the Merrill Lynch Open went down to the wire Saturday at Santa Maria Golf Club, where Devin Carrey’s 5-under par 67 was just good enough to claim his first Adams Golf Pro Tour victory.
The Surrey, British Colombia native, who spent his college days at Louisiana-Lafayette, birdied the 18th hole to finish at 16-under overall through a rain-shortened tournament, with Friday’s round being abandoned because of rain.
Golfers battled high winds and soggy grounds leftover from rain throughout the week. The tournament was played under the lift, clean and place rule.
Carrey said taking his first regular-season Adams Tour victory and an $18,850 paycheck felt “pretty surreal,” and that he didn’t know it might happen Saturday until he stepped off the 18th green.
“I’ll be honest, I didn’t know where I stood,” Carrey said. “I didn’t look at a leaderboard all day.”
Carrey started the day two back of tour points leader Lance Lopez and turned in a card of just one bogey and six birdies — none more important than a birdie on the 18th hole that put the pressure on Lopez to par the hole to force a playoff.
“I got on the 18th tee and it was 250 yards to the tree and I figured I could just hit a 3-wood at it and be OK,” Carrey said of his tee-shot, which stopped just shy of the water. “I guess the adrenaline got me a little bit.”
Carrey two-putted to birdie the hole, meaning Lopez needed to eagle to claim victory after topping the leaderboard most of the afternoon.
But Lopez’s tee-shot on 18 found the water and eventually left him needing to make a long putt to force a playoff.
“I was trying to pinch it close to the water and get it as close as I could,” Lopez said of his tee-shot on 18. “I should have just hit a 3-wood and made the birdie to go to a playoff, but I tried to get cute with it and I ended up paying for it.”
Lopez said his round was “nothing special” overall and that in the end a mistake on the 18th hole and the pressure to win were his undoing on Saturday.
“It was just a tough day,” Lopez said. “The emotions are going, the nerves are kind of working on you and it’s just something you have to overlook and get the job done. I came up a shot short but I left it all out there and gave it all I got.”
Lopez finished Saturday’s round at two-under and 15-under for the tournament, two strokes ahead of playing partner Bobby Massa and three ahead of Matthew Vela, who hit a hole-in-one on the fifth hole to pull within striking distance.
Carrey said he may have benefited from not having to play Friday’s round and entering the final round just two strokes behind the leaders.
“If we play yesterday who knows what could have happened,” Carrey said. “I tried to play as aggressive as I could. I knew I was behind and had two great players behind me.”
Saturday’s biggest mover was Zack Fischer, who turned in a six-under 66 to finish in a tie for fifth overall. Fisher carded nine birdies, including four-straight in the middle of his round.
The Adams Gold Pro Tour Series next heads to the Bridges Course at Firewheel Golf Park in Garland, Texas.