At the Frys.com Open last week, Ben Martin beat just one golfer. Rounds of 78 and 79 sent him packing early from Napa. One week later he beat everyone else on the leader board to earn his first career win at the Shriners Hospital for Children Open in Las Vegas.
How fitting then that in a city like Las Vegas, the kid from Greenwood, South Carolina hit the proverbial jackpot on Sunday.
Martin held off the likes off the likes of Kevin Streelman, Russell Knox, Webb Simposn, Brooks Koepka, and Jimmy Walker to punch his ticket back to Augusta National for the first time since 2010 and lock in his tour card through the 2016-2017 season.
“It takes a little bit of the stress off,” he said. “Any time that I can be more relaxed going into the tournament, the better I’m going to play.”
Martin struggled early in his final round Sunday carding just one birdie to go along with one birdie on the front nine. He had a three shot lead at the turn but that evaporated quickly as Streelamn played his back nine in 5-under to put the pressure on.
When he stepped onto the tee box on the par-5 16th his lead had completely disappeared and he found himself 1 shot behind Streelman who was in the clubhouse watching on TV. Martin drove the green in two and had a 46 foot eagle putt that would give him back the lead. He sank the long putt to take the lead back and that turned out to be the winning putt. He would add a birdie at 18 to win by 2, playing the final four holes in 4-under par.
‘It was an awesome way to finish,” Martin said. ”I didn’t feel like I had much going all day. Four under on my last four to cap my first win was just awesome.”
Martin ended up finishing two shots clear of Streelman and four shots clear of third place finisher Knox. Koepka, the Palm Beach Gardens resident, finished in a tie for fourth with defending champion Webb Simpson and Jimmy Walker. It was his second top-10 finish in as many starts after he finished in a tie for eighth last week. Including his starts on the European tour, Brooks has finished no worse than 11th in his past five worldwide starts.
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