Alex Aragon posts first Nationwide Tour victory in California
HAYWARD, CA (April 15, 2012) - Alex Aragon fired a 4-under 66 Sunday to come from behind and win the weather-plagued TPC Stonebrae Championship. The 33-year-old Aragon finished at 10-under 270 but needed to wait out 30 minutes to see if 49-year-old Duffy Waldorf or 24-year-old Paul Haley could post a birdie down the stretch to force a playoff.
Waldorf, in the next-to-last group, missed from 35 feet on the final green and came up one stroke short of Aragon. Haley was in the final threesome and when he missed his birdie try from 20 feet to tie, the victory belonged to Aragon, who was in a dining room stretching out his back in case of overtime.
Waldorf (68) and Haley (68) shared second place with Michigan's Matt Harmon, who put 10 birdies on the board and tied the course record with a 9-under 61.
Rob Oppenheim (68) and Bio Kim (63) tied for fifth place in a tournament where fog delayed the start of play three of the four days.
"I'm trying to keep it all in perspective," said Aragon, who collected $108,000 and moved to No. 4 on the Nationwide Tour money list. "It's a major step and I'm proud of myself for doing it."
He did it despite some crazy happenings. He locked his key in his car Thursday morning on the way to the TPC Stonebrae course but didn't miss his tee time thanks to a two-hour fog delay.
Friday, he left his wallet at a gas station and when he returned to get it, it was gone.
Then, there were the numbers -- 18, 0, 33, 21 -- numbers that represented how many holes he played each day. Actually he did hit one tee Friday evening before the horn sounded to halt play. (Fog also delayed play for four hours on Friday and three more on Sunday to bring the week's total to nine hours,)
Somehow, Aragon plowed ahead thanks to positive thinking. The Stanford grad was one of 34 players forced to finish up his third round Sunday morning. Officials didn't redo the pairings in an effort to beat the clock and Aragon was four strokes off the pace and well out in front of the leaders when the final round got underway.
"I kept saying to myself all day I was going to win the tournament," he said. "Regardless of the outcome that's how I wanted to play. I didn't want to play with anything else on my mind."
Tyrone Van Aswegen of South Africa led by three after 54 holes and upped that to four with a birdie at No. 3 but managed only one birdie the rest of the way, settled for a 3-over 73 and a tie for seventh.
That left door open for Aragon and anyone else who could make a charge.
Aragon wasn't spectacular, but he didn't need to be.
"I hit maybe one or two sideways shots all day. I putted pretty well and just played smart I guess," he said after hitting 10 of 13 fairways and 14 of 18 greens. "You can make a mistake pretty easily out here because of the severity of the greens. I just played smart and took what the course gave me and then hit some good shots when I needed to."
Patience was the word of the week and for Aragon, that's not a problem.
Since graduating from Stanford in 2001, Aragon has played only one season on the PGA TOUR (2006) and parts of two seasons on the Nationwide Tour (2005, 2009).
"I've considered quitting every year since I turned pro," he admitted. "It's tough. I think about it all the time but I've never even come close. I'm not surprised (at winning). I felt like I've prepared my whole life to win golf tournaments at this level and the next level, but to have done it, I'm really just proud of the effort it's taken to do it."