Whitecap, Sask – Kansas City, Missouri’s Michael Letzig defeated Newport Beach, California’s J.J. Spaun and Grand Rapids, Michigan’s Clark Klaasen in a playoff on Sunday to capture the SIGA Dakota Dunes Open presented by SaskTel, his first career Mackenzie Tour – PGA TOUR Canada victory.
Letzig, a veteran of 114 starts on the PGA TOUR with more than $3.3 million in career earnings on the Web.com Tour and PGA TOUR, carded a final round 3-under 69 to finish at 16-under total, then birdied the second hole of a sudden-victory playoff to earn the victory, his first win in a PGA TOUR-sanctioned event.
The win moves Letzig to fourth on the Order of Merit through four of 12 events, in position to earn status on the Web.com Tour for the 2016 season.
“I was a long way back starting the day, so I really didn’t watch the leaderboard today. I knew I played really good yesterday and my score didn’t show that, so I knew if I came out and played my game I could put a good number in,” said Letzig, who made a 15-foot birdie putt on the second playoff hole, then watched as Spaun and Klaasen couldn’t match with shorter putts, giving him the win. “I had just had that putt on the first playoff hole, and I knew it was mine to win because you don’t often get second chances and those guys gave me a second chance.”
The players had to overcome windy conditions, and the smoke from wildfires in Saskatchewan and Alberta.
Letzig, who owns nine top-10 finishes on the PGA TOUR, said he felt relieved to play at the level he showed in five seasons at the game’s highest level.
“If you look at the stats, I’ve had the most success of anybody out here, so I feel like that’s a lot of pressure I’ve put on myself. I feel like I should be winning every one of these and I haven’t played well up until this week, so it was nice to get out of my own way and play my own game. It was good to play the way I believe I can play,” said Letzig.
Letzig started the day six shots behind 54-hole leader Eric Onesi, but matched Spaun’s earlier clubhouse lead of 16-under on the strength of a birdie at the 17th hole and a par at the last.
“I hit the best shot of the week on 17. I just hooked a 6-iron in there and didn’t think there was any way to get it close to the hole without hooking one in there and just hit it perfect. I made birdie there and saw the leaderboard and knew I had a chance,” said Letzig.
Klaasen, a second year Mackenzie Tour member, looked to be in control of the tournament after reaching 18-under with a birdie on the 15th, but bogeyed his final two holes to fall back into a tie with Letzig and Spaun. Onesi, who appeared to be out of the tournament after making a triple bogey at the par-3 6th, came back to tie the lead with a birdie at 16, but couldn’t get up-and-down for par from a plugged lie in a greenside bunker at 18 and missed the playoff by a shot.
After three pars on the first playoff hole, the trio headed back to the 18th. The second time around, Letzig played the par-5 more aggressively, knocking a pair of drivers just short of the green in two.
“I think the more experience you get, the more comfortable you are under pressure. I hit driver off the deck back there because I knew I wasn’t going to play up. You gotta put pressure on yourself to hit a shot if you want to win a golf tournament,” said Letzig.
Though Spaun and Klaasen both had shorter birdie putts, Letzig put the pressure on with a 15-footer and watched as neither of his competitors could match, giving him the title.
“To pull that shot off and finish it with a birdie was awesome,” Letzig added.
The win comes at an exciting time for the Letzig family, with wife Holly expected to give birth to the couple’s second child in the next two weeks. Though the baby’s due date isn’t for two weeks, Letzig had his family on standby to call PGA TOUR Tournament Director Jamie Wiles to bring Letzig home in case she went into labour.
“Every time I saw him in the cart out there, I was kind of afraid he was coming to get me. To get the whole tournament in and be here all week is awesome, but I can’t wait to get home,” said Letzig.
SILVERMAN WINS FREEDOM 55 FINANCIAL TOP CANADIAN AWARD
With a T4 finish, Thornhill, Ontario’s Ben Silverman claimed Freedom 55 Financial Canadian Player of the Week honours along with a $2,500 prize. Each week, the top Canadian on the leaderboard will earn the award, with the top Canadian on the Order of Merit at season’s end earning Freedom 55 Financial Canadian Player of the Year and a $25,000 prize.
Silverman finished runner-up in a playoff last week to Kevin Spooner at the Syncrude Boreal Open presented by AECON.
WEAVER TAKES OVER TOP SPOT ON ORDER OF MERIT
With a T8 finish, Atlanta, Georgia’s Drew Weaver re-claimed the top spot on the Order of Merit through four events. The winner of the season-opening PC Financial Open, Weaver moved ahead of Toronto’s Albin Choi by $3,443. Below are the top five through the SIGA Dakota Dunes Open presented by SaskTel:
1. Drew Weaver – $41,300
2. Albin Choi – $37,857
3. Kevin Spooner – $36,575
4. Michael Letzig – $32,086
5. J.J. Spaun – $26,863
- Weather: Cloudy. 17 degrees Celsius. Winds 35 km/h.
- The win marks Michael Letzig’s best finish in a PGA TOUR-sanctioned event, surpassing a solo 2nd place finish at the 2007 Web.com Tour Championship and a T2 at the Gin sur Merr Classic in 2008 on the PGA TOUR.
- Letzig is the first former PGA TOUR member to win on the Mackenzie Tour since Wil Collins at the 2013 SIGA Dakota Dunes Open presented by SaskTel.
- Letzig’s final round 69 matches Drew Weaver for the highest final round by a winner this season.
- 2014 SIGA Dakota Dunes Open champion Matt Harmon also won around the same time his family welcomed a new child to the family, with wife Pagiel giving birth to son Eli 10 weeks prior to his win last year. The couple welcomed a second son, Beckett, to the family on Friday.
- Players who earned a spot in The Players Cup next week with top-20 finishes: Max Gilbert (T19); Mike Van Sicke (T19); Yi Cao (T19); Ben Briscoe (T11); Doug Letson (T11); Philip Pettitt, Jr. (T8).
- Three of four events on the Mackenzie Tour this season have ended in playoffs.
- The top three players on the Order of Merit through the Staal Foundation Open presented by Tbaytel will earn exemptions into the RBC Canadian Open. Letzig (4th) finished T4 at the event in 2010 and T8 in 2009.
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