AS he clutched it like he may never let go, only a few tears dripped into the Players Cup.
That’s because an emotional Tim Madigan was more prepared than he gave himself credit for on Sunday — he remembered to bring a tissue to dry his eyes as he laid claim to the 2014 PGA Tour Canada title at Pine Ridge.
The 25-year-old from Las Cruces, N.M., took care of his own business, carding an even-par 71 on a cool, damp day to hold off Canadian Matt Hill and American Ricky McDonald by one shot.
The blubbery post-round acceptance speech only drove home the meaning for the former New Mexico State player.
"It’s all the hard work paying off, all of the support," Madigan said, excusing himself again to mop up another flood of tears. "Without the sacrifices of many other people, I would not have this privilege. My parents, my fiancée, they’re just absolutely the best.
"This morning I was trying to picture what it would be like to win, have the interviews and stuff. Never thought I was going to be this emotional."
Madigan took a one-shot lead into Sunday’s final round and kept his nerve in check until he passed the final, difficult test of his round — twoputting for par from 75 feet all the way across Pine Ridge’s 18th green.
His seven iron from 180 yards back in the fairway was pulled but stayed on the low, left front part of the green, not the ideal spot for the hole location in the back right.
But he coolly struck the first putt to just three feet right of the hole and made no mistake with the rest to claim the $27,000 top prize and move into second spot on the tour’s money list at $53,460, behind leader Joel Dahmen, who finished 24th here.
"My only thought was just get really good speed on it," Madigan said. "The hardest part was that if you get it too far left, it’s going to break left. And if you go too far right, it’s going to kind of sneak right on you.
"I was hoping it would nestle up a bit closer, but it was close enough for me. On that three-footer, I thought of my fiancée (Deb Albo) because she’s a big reason why I’m out here.
"She always calms me down. That girl has stuck by me through thick and thin."
And it all started flowing out when the putt went down.
"Relief," Madigan smiled. "Once I saw the putt fall, it pretty much took my breath away."
His closest chaser to start Sunday was Fargo’s Josh Persons, who was two shots back but struggled to 72. Persons won already this year, when Madigan failed to convert on the 72nd hole in Victoria from six feet, settling for a tie for second.
It was Hill, out of the pack with a 67, and McDonald, with a 69, who could only get to eight-under.
Madigan was in the logjam, too, but birdied the par-5 15th to stay on top.
"I honestly thought you’d have to go lower today," he said of his twobirdie, two-bogey round. "Obviously the course was set up very difficult but it seemed like the course was soft enough where you could attack.
"I probably didn’t think that even par would have been good enough. My goal was to shoot 60-something. The fact that even par did win, I’m stoked right now."
Madigan has won before, at the 2011 New Mexico Open in his first pro start, and at a 2012 eGolf Tour event in North Carolina.
The Players Cup triumph, however, has bigger consequences.
Madigan moved to second on the allimportant money list at $53,460 and locked down his spot for the RBC Canadian Open in Montreal in 10 days.
"To be a winner on PGA Tour Canada, I dreamt about it but did I think it would happen in my rookie year? Probably not," he said. "I knew it was possible. It’s just a privilege."