Cary, N.C. – What a difference a day can make.
It’s one worth looking back on, as dramatic and unexpected it was to even the eventual winner.
Back-to-back putts on almost the identical line launched Lee Janzen to victory at the 2021 SAS Championship at Prestonwood Country Club last Sunday.
Forcing the issue
Tied with Miguel Angel Jimenez at 11-under par, Janzen’s birdie putt off the collar on 18 dropped to a thunderous ovation, and gave him the clubhouse lead with the Spaniard approaching the final tee box.
It was Jimenez’s win for the taking as he stared down what looked like an inevitable birdie.
It was not a gimme, a subtle left-to-right slider, but one that resulted in a stroke that pulled left of the intended line, and set the stage for the tournament’s first-ever playoff finish.
We’re talking playoff
Both players headed back to the 18th tee box to start the sudden-victory match.
Jimenez pulled his tee shot into the fairway bunker while Janzen striped his drive down the fairway.
Out of the bunker, Jimenez’s second shot ended up in the fluffy Bermuda rough close to the grandstand, left of the back hole location.
Janzen landed his approach shot on the left part of the green, just down the line of Jimenez’s upcoming chip attempt after taking relief from the grandstand.
Not only did Jimenez have to deal with striking the ball just right out of the rough to land softly on the downslope of the green toward the hole, he had sun glaring into his eyes which he had to cover with his hand, in addition to sunglasses he removed and put back on a few times, before attempting his shot for birdie.
The contact was just right, the ball landed on the green in the right spot, but just broke away from the hole , and came to rest a foot short of going into the hole.
The rest as they say became history.
Focusing on playing well
Janzen knew the putt, the line, and he had a few less feet to roll the ball into the hole for the win again – and this time for good.
“It’s been long enough. I just was trying to have a good tournament. Forget winning the tournament, I just wanted to have a good tournament”, Janzen said
“Somewhere in the middle of back nine I started thinking I might actually have a chance to win this. If I can hit some good shots and hole some putts… my putting just kept getting better and better and better.
“I did have a fairly short putt on 17, but to make these two putts I made on 18; you know, if you’re having a putting match for nothing, and you’re completely calm, it’s hard to make those putts. With the tournament on the line, it’s even harder still.”
Peter Koutroumpis – 401-323-8960, @pksport