RALEIGH, N.C. – They say good things happen to those who wait.
For Trey Mullinax, an eagle on the 573-yard, par-five 15th hole at TPC Wakefield Plantation made the difference and earned him the 2016 Rex Hospital Open championship title on Sunday.
“I hit 3-wood in, and I just told myself sometimes you have to make game-time decisions,” Mullinax said of his set-up shot that led to a chip-in with three holes to go during the final round of play.
“I hit the club well all week. I gave it a good swing and it went right there by the green and I was able to chip it in. It was awesome.”
Starting in fourth place behind Brady Schnell, Dominic Bozzelli and J.J. Spaun, the six-foot-four-inch, 195-pound Mullinax played the front nine at two-over, carding three bogeys and a birdie before making his move with three straight birdies after making the turn.
“I knew I was swingin’ it good, I was hittin’ the ball well,” he said.
“Out here (on the Web.com Tour) every dollar counts. You don’t know if you’re gonna make your card by a hundred dollars or five dollars, or a thousand dollars. I just told myself just keep grindin’, keep stayin’ in the moment, and stick to everything, and I got hot on the back nine.”
As the crowd surrounding the 18th green viewed the leaderboard, they saw that Mullinax and 54-hole leader Schnell were tied at 14-under through 15, and were the two who would contend for the win.
“I had three more to go,” Mullinax said.
“I knew it wasn’t over up to that point. I knew I had to play a good next three holes and hit good shots on all of ‘em.”
Mullinax played to par for the rest of the round and waited in the clubhouse with his finishing 68.
Unfortunately for Schnell, a bogey on the 480-yard, par-four 17th dropped him one behind Mullinax and forced him to press hard on his final hole.
He pushed his drive into the right rough before hitting into the back greenside bunker, a spot from which he couldn’t hole out to pull even to force a playoff.
He finished bogeying the final hole.
“I three-putted and obviously I’ve gotta take an aggressive line on 18,” Schnell said.
“Caught a little flier out of the rough and I was dead meat back there…I don’t feel like I lost it. Obviously, Trey coming in on the back with 30 is solid. You gotta tip your cap to that.”
With a $117,000 winner’s check in tow along with the championship crystal trophy he earned, Mullinax was ready to move onto the next event in Greer, S.C. where he’ll arrive sitting in fourth place ($154,486) on the Web.com Tour’s money list.
Claiming his first win since turning pro in 2014, the Alabama grad reflected back on his week and appreciated how he played over the past four days.
“I played well all week, I really did…I played smart. I knew this golf course. I knew what it would take. I came out and had a free mind. I had a game plan for the holes I could attack and the holes I needed to throttle back on. We did a really good job this week in doin’ that.”
Notes: Raleigh native and rookie Grayson Murray who received a sponsors exemption finished T10 (-7) along with former N.C. State Wolfpack golfers Albin Choi and Marc Turnesa…2014 champion Byron Smith finished T30 (-2) while defending and three-time champion Kyle Thompson finished T33 (-1)…Former Duke Blue Devils Ryan Blaum and Wes Roach finished T40 (+1) and T70 (+9) respectively.