01/17/2016

Before the Sony Open began, it’s suspected that many golf fans did know who Fabian Gomez was. Fewer could pick him out of a crowd. And only the people who follow the game for a living would even remember that he was a PGA Tour winner last June in Memphis.

A Sunday 62 this weekend at Waialae CC helped lightning strike twice for the Argentinian, who has a propensity for doing this type of thing.

At last year’s FedEx St. Jude, Gomez finished with a flurry of birdies down the stretch to close with a round of 66 and a total of 13-under par, beating Greg Owen comfortably by four. This year, the margin wasn’t so comfortable.

Starting the day four strokes behind 54-hole leader Brandt Snedeker, Gomez was among a cluster of names looking for a big Sunday to vault them into contention. Birdies were aplenty in Hawaii on Sunday, but it was Gomez on the heels of 7 consecutive birdies, who was able to shoot the definitive round.

Screenshot 2016-01-17 22.04.53

Coincidentally enough, not even Greg Owen’s final round of 64 (the lowest score among anyone in the top-10, less Gomez) was enough to track down Gomez.

Gomez battled Tour veteran Snedeker along with newcomer Zac Blair down the stretch, as the three separated themselves from the pack. They finished 3 clear of the field.

Gomez closed his round first, stamping it with a clutch 20-footer to take hold of the solo lead in the clubhouse. Both Snedeker and Blair were on the course with chances to catch him. Snedeker was a multi-winner on the PGA Tour, while Blair was in pursuit of his first.

Coming down 18, it was Blair who needed to make eagle three on the par-5 to match the clubhouse lead set by Gomez. After a gorgeous 3-wood, that Blair liked all the way, he had this putt to join the action back on the tee.

Maybe he was a couple of fidgets short to get it to fall.

With that, Snedeker was the last man with a chance. Having surrendered 234 birdies on the week, the 18th was an easy grab for a tie and playoff.

Snedeker did just as he was supposed to by holing a nice 10-footer to push the action deeper into primetime television. With football completed for the day, this was just the extra action needed for sports fans. Playoff.

With nervy pars the first time down 18 in the first playoff hole, both players–Gomez and Snedeker–headed back to the tee for a second playoff hole on a hole Tour player Tom Gillis isn’t apparently a fan of.

This time around, Gomez would hit the green in two shots, leaving himself a fairly simple two-putt for the advantage. He would convert for birdie. So after hitting another wedge to 10-feet, Snedeker had a putt to tie.

Few players in the world want the putter in their hands down the stretch of a PGA Tour tournament more than Brandt Snedeker.

But for the second hole in a row, he would leave his putt fractionally off to the right, missing.

It’s a rare thing to see a player with Snedeker’s putting prowess miss two putts, the same way, on the same green, in such a short span of time. It goes to show that even players with 7 PGA Tour wins to their credit still feel the jitters when a tournament is within reach. Those two misses have to be classified as nervous pushes.

All in all, it was Gomez for the win. His second PGA Tour win gives the 37-year old added security toward a future on the PGA Tour. His caddy was in tears at the conclusion of the round.

For a player who has been all over the world playing mini-tours for nearly 20 years, Gomez’ trail to the PGA Tour seems like it has almost come full circle. He turned pro in 2001 and his route to the PGA Tour was not a linear one. It was a trail of bumps, bruises, and the occasional success.

The grind for great golf will never end for Gomez, but with another $1 million check cashed, his caddy, and his family, he can finally start to live the life most aspire for when teeing it up as a professional golfer.

Perhaps that explains the tears.

***********

Andre Iguodala of the Golden State Warriors didn’t miss the action: