2014 Rex Hospital Open: Byron Smith wins, outdistances field by four strokes

Peter Koutroumpis, Triangle Sports Network
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RALEIGH, N.C. – Byron Smith shot a 5-under par 66 to win the 2014 Rex Hospital Open title at TPC at Wakefield Plantation on Sunday.

The 33-year old Pepperdine philosophy grad from Palm Springs, Calif. outdistanced the field by four strokes, finishing his back nine with four birdies while 54-hole co-leader Harold Varner III, along with Scott Gardiner finished tied for second at 12-under par.

“I’ve put in a lot of work,” Smith said.

“You know they say golf is mostly a game of failure and I’ve done plenty of that…To come out here on the weekend and beat everyone in a really good field is amazing.”

Smith earned his first career Web.com Tour victory carding rounds of 70, 69, 63, and 66 and finished first in greens in regulation, giving himself chances to score birdies on 61 of 72 greens throughout the week.

That accuracy allowed him to make a big move on Saturday when he finished at 8-under par to assume the lead with Varner and Hunter Haas following third-round play.

Along with Campbell University grad and Holly Springs resident Brad Fritsch, who finished tied for fourth at -11 (273), Smith once again ended with low-round of the day.

“I got it goin’ starting yesterday,” Smith said.

“I was hitting it good all week, and just wasn’t makin’ any putts the first few days, so yesterday I started makin’ some putts and just kind of kept it goin’ today. I didn’t try to force anything and I kept hitting quality iron shots, gave myself good looks and thankfully a couple of them started to drop.”

With his last professional win coming in 2011 at the Desert Dunes Classic on the Canadian PGA Tour, Smith’s victory in the Triangle propelled him into 10th place on the Web.com Tour money list, thanks to the $112,500 winner’s check he received to go along with the Rex Hospital Open crystal he was presented with.

“This is probably the biggest moment of my golf career at this point by far”, Smith said while addressing the crowd that surrounded the 18th green.

“It was a pretty unforgettable week. This is really special for me.”