WINDSOR, Ont.— Entering the final round of the Windsor Championship with 26 players within four strokes of the lead, the stage was set for an incredible day of golf. Sunday did not disappoint.
Especially if your name is Dawson Armstrong.
Opening with two birdies in his first three holes, the Lipscomb University alum managed a clean card, marking down three more circles throughout the day.
Not having to make a par putt from outside three feet for the duration of the round, Armstrong picked up his first-career Mackenzie Tour title by one stroke over six players.
“I’ve never seen a leaderboard as jam-packed as that one,” said Armstrong following the victory. “Come about No. 16 today there were 12 guys within two shots of the lead, it was just jam packed all day and anyone could make a run at any given time.”
Playing in the third to last grouping of the day, Armstrong tapped in for par on hole No. 18 at 20-under and managed to dodge bullet after bullet as he became a highly-engaged spectator. This was already after Patrick Fishburn missed a short par putt on the last hole in the group ahead to drop to 19-under.
Playing competitor Ryan Ruffels missed a six-foot birdie putt which would have matched Armstrong in the clubhouse. At the same time, the entire final group of Bryson Nimmer, Jonathan Garrick and Will Register, who were all within one-stroke of the lead, made bogey on the difficult No. 16 to fall two back.
Register managed birdie on No. 17, giving himself a chance to force a playoff, but had to chip out from the fescue following his drive, leaving himself 65-yards to the pin.
“I called my fiancé [after finishing] and she said, ‘don’t get excited until you know for sure’,” said Armstrong. “I really kept an even keel and came out here and watched, there was nothing I could do but just accept whatever happened.”
What happened was that Register almost made it, twice. The ball landed two inches from the pin, jumped a few feet past, and slowly trickled back, burning the edge of the cup; Armstrong hugged caddie Derek Bayley.
“That was the most nerve-racking shot I’ve ever seen from someone, he’s got some guts to hit that shot when he needed it,” said Armstrong. “Sadly, he didn’t make it and sadly we didn’t have the chance to perform in a playoff. (Register) is a deserving player and he’s going to get his share out here.”
Entering the week in spot No. 13 on the Order of Merit, Armstrong said that it was his previous professional experience that helped propel him through Sunday.
“This is my 15thevent up here, so putting myself in contention two of the last four events, I’m really happy with where I was,” said Armstrong. “The game felt great and I’m more confident than I’ve ever been
“To have it all cap off this week was really special, because it feels good to be back in that situation where you have the nerves running and you have to calm down and just perform, that was the best feeling.”
His second year on the Mackenzie Tour, Armstrong had a moderately successful debut campaign, finishing in spot No. 34 on the order of merit following a successful collegiate career where he managed the lowest career scoring average (71.2) in Lipscomb history.
“Last year I never felt like I could get myself in contention, whether it was me backdooring a top 10 or worrying about the cut every week, it was a different mindset last year compared to this year,” said the 23-year old. “Instead of trying to finish top-10, I’m going out trying to win, and this week it worked out pretty good.”
Fishburn, Ruffels, Garrick, Register, Paul Barjon and Anthony Maccaglia made up the grouping one-stroke back, while Riley Wheeldon managed his second Canada Life Canadian Player of the Week title of the season, as well as his first top-10 finish of the year, finishing two-strokes back at T8.