Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local Sports

July 8, 2013

Blixt wins rain-delayed Greenbrier Classic

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS — The Greenbrier Classic had a Swedish flair, and a Seminole uprising.

It was Florida State vs. Virginia Tech, and the Seminoles won.

Jonas Blixt made five birdies, including three on the back nine, and the Florida State product captured The Greenbrier Classic championship with a two-stroke win over a quartet of golfers, including the Hokies’ Johnson Wagner, on a soggy Sunday at the Old White TPC.

 Blixt won for the second time on the PGA TOUR, also winning the Open in 2012.

 “To not have my ‘A’ game and still pull off a win on the PGA TOUR,” said Blixt, of his greatest satisfaction from the win. “I got a lot of good breaks and my putter worked really well today and the whole week. It is just really cool to just finish on top.”

 Old White turned into old wet for much of Sunday when thunderstorms caused a weather delay of more than three hours before play resumed at 5 p.m.

 Playing at a fast pace to beat the darkness that was closing in on the historic course, third round leader and Virginia Tech product Wagner had four bogeys on his round, including three on the back nine to slip into a tie for second place with Steven Bowditch, Jimmy Walker and Matt Jones.

 “Not a chance,” said Wagner, who didn’t expect to finish 18 holes in less than four hours. “I got to the turn and asked somebody what time it was and they said it was 7, and we hadn’t waited for a shot all day so I thought we had a good chance to finish at that point…

 “We wanted to finish, but it’s kind of a shame with an incredible tournament like The Greenbrier Classic to feel like you’re in the last group and you’re rushing to finish before daylight, but you can’t control the weather.”

 Only 27 of 70 golfers had completed their finals round when a weather delay caused by “dangerous conditions” — including heavy rain, thunder and threatening skies — began at 1:50 p.m., and didn’t end until 3 hours and 10 minutes later.

 The final two groups — including the final pairing of Wagner and Walker — teed off more than three hours later than expected. A steady rain continued even as the golf resumed. The moisture later gave up to a mixture of sunny and dark skies, and the golfers were barely able to get the final holes in prior to darkness closing in on the course.

 “It was dark, it was really dark,” Wagner said. “We should have played threesomes early this morning, not that it would have made any difference with my round, but the last few holes I just felt like we were just trying to finish.

 “Of course, we wanted to finish. I didn’t mean to sound like a baby there, but I am just furious.”

 Blixt started the day four strokes behind Wagner, but was able to get on a birdie roll on the back nine. He was tied with Wagner going to the 16th hole, but was able to birdie that hole, while Wagner bogeyed the 15th for the deciding two-stroke swing.

  “I had a really good range session last night and I just stuck with that and whatever happened happens,” said Blixt, who followed an opening round 66 with three straight 67s. “I am so happy I pulled it off. It was still a little iffy today, but I pulled out some really good shots and had some short birdie putts today.”

 Blixt missed a shot putt for birdie on 17 and parred the 18th, but was able to maintain his two-stroke lead over the quartet, led by Wagner.

 “I was more about putting together a strong round,” Blixt said. “It’s kind of hard to catch a guy who is four strokes ahead of you. I was lucky enough I could put some pressure on him around the turn there.

 “I just tried to play my best and tried not to be too nervous. I was shaking a couple of times today. I was kind of happy just to make those short putts coming in.”

  Wagner, who had a two-stroke lead on Walker going into the final round, struggled on the back nine, with bogeys on 11, 13 and 15.  

 “I had a little bit of trouble early with my putter, I just never got comfortable with my putter all day,” Wagner said. “Then the rain slowed the greens down and I should have adjusted quicker than I did.

 “I just don’t think I had the confidence in the 1 (driver) today, I swung it pretty good early and some where around 15, it went away, the swing just left. I hit a nice swing into 18, I thought I made the putt, but it would have been nice.”

 Wagner, who had a 62 and 64 to go with a 70 and 73 on Sunday, finished tied for second with Jimmy Walker (71), Matt Jones (68) and Steven Bowditch (68).

 Three golfers finished tied for sixth at 9-under par, including defending champion Ted Potter Jr, Brian Stuard and Pat Perez.

 Blixt had a solid rookie season on TOUR in 2012, winning once, finishing third twice, and in the top 10 five times, had finished a season best of 11th this year at the Colonial.

 He even admitted to being surprised by his success, saying when asked if he saw this coming, “Nope, not at all.”

 “This is what I play for. I play to win and I mean it just confirms that you’re doing the right things and that you work hard and dreams can come true if you work hard and keep at it.” said Blixt, who had been slated to tee of with Jones just before the weather delay began.”

 “I just try to get better every time I step on the golf course,” he added, “If I can get better all the time, I hope I can do this a lot more.”

 Wagner, a three-time winner on the PGA TOUR, had been in a prolonged slump, missing six cuts and withdrawing from another event since late-April, but was pleased to have found his game, despite the disappointment of four bogeys and just one birdie on the day.

 “Given where I was a couple of weeks ago, I take a lot of positives when I get over this disappointment,” Wagner said. “This is going to hurt for a while, but I played great for almost four days so there is a lot to like.”

 It wasn’t just Wagner who watched as Blixt rallied to victory. Walker, who was seeking his first win in his 181th PGA TOUR appearance, had two bogeys and a birdie for a 1-over 71 to finish in the tie for second.

 “I just didn’t get the putts to go in today, just couldn’t really get anything to go,” said Walker, who finished tied for fourth at The Greenbrier in 2011 and 2010. “The golf course softened up a little bit after the rain and I think I just I struggled a little bit with the speed, left a few putts short today and I think that was the difference.”

 Jones, who started the day at 9-under, fired a 68, while Bowditch — who entered the tournament with just one top 10 finish on the TOUR and was ranked 675th in the world — had his best outing as a professional golfer.

 “I had a couple of good par saves early in the round. All in all, it’s my best finish on the PGA TOUR so I’m over the moon,” Bowditch said. “It’s one step closer to securing my job for next year.”

 Blixt beamed from ear to ear after the win, not only claiming the first prize money of $1,134,000, but moved closer to a berth in the British Open later this month, and has officially qualified for the Masters next April at Augusta.

 “A dream come true, I watched it as a kid and I always wanted to play there, and then I went there a couple of years ago and it looked exactly the way I thought it was going to look like,” Blixt said. “It is just a special place, almost like a religious experience being there and to play there, I have no words for it.”

—Contact Brian Woodson at

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