RALEIGH, N.C. – The impending storm brewed as the leaderboard at the 2017 Rex Hospital Open got crowded at TPC Wakefield Plantation on Sunday.
As the large raindrops started to fall during the first playoff hole, it was Chesson Hadley’s three-and-a-half foot par putt that edged left and missed that allowed Conrad Shindler to make his winning stroke from 18 inches to win the tournament title.
It was Shindler’s first career win on the Web.com Tour, following a T44 finish at the BMW Charity Classic last week and three missed cuts before that.
“It’s a step you’ve dreamed about forever, and to fulfill it – it hasn’t sunk in – it won’t sink in for a couple of days,” Shindler said.
“We got off to a hot start, got some nice putts to go. Had some good looks coming in, they just didn’t go. And that’s golf. Even if I hadn’t have come out on top, I would have walked away satisfied because I played my game.”
Hadley didn’t mince words when talking about his miscue at the most critical point in his final round and tournament.
“I’ve been startin’ to trend a little bit, and I trended last week and this week I played some great golf,” Hadley said.
“I certainly think I should have won this golf tournament, but I didn’t and that’s the reality of it. I’m not saying that to take anything away from Conrad. I don’t mean that like that at all. Right now, I’m kinda ‘it is what it is’. It sucks to suck. I don’t suck, but that putt sucked.”
While moving to the top of the leaderboard early with birdies on the par-4 third and par-5 fourth hole, Hadley stayed in the hunt while Shindler ascended up the board with four birdies on his front nine.
Following a bogey at the par-four 10th, Hadley scored two birdies on No. 12 and 14 before carding an eagle on the par-5 15th and pulled even for the lead.
Playing in separate groups, Hadley and then Shindler each missed birdie putts and remained tied at -15, and ousted eventual third-place finishers Andrew Putnam, Andrew Landry, and Kyoung-Hoon Lee from playoff contention, all tied at -14 overall.
With everyone in the surrounding galleries and skyboxes looking for Hadley to make his par putt and at worst continue the playoff, his pulled stroke left many speechless and increased Shindler’s anxiety to make his putt.
“It was really hard because you have to compose yourself and finish the job,” Shindler said.
“It was only 18 inches, but it had just started to downpour. I wasn’t expecting him to miss it. I was expecting him to pour it right in, and we go back to 18. You are at a little bit of a shock when it happens, and you have to really collect yourself and understand, ‘yeah, it may be a short putt, but you still gotta commit and actually execute – you’ve gotta finish it.”