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All Sainz day at Pine Ridge

Illinois pro birdies 4 of final 6 to win The Players Cup

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 21/7/2013 (1041 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

After fireworks for three days, championship Sunday at The Players Cup was becoming a colossal bore by the middle of the afternoon.

The leaderboard was static and moves and charges were few and far between at Pine Ridge Golf Club. That's when pace-setter Nathan Tyler of Tuscon, Ariz., fumbled his way to a double-bogey six on the par-5 11th, and suddenly six players were tied for the lead at 13-under-par.

Carlos Sainz Jr. of Illinois capitalized on a collapse by Arizona's Nathan Tyler to capture The Players Cup Sunday at Pine Ridge Golf Club.

PHOTOS BY JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Carlos Sainz Jr. of Illinois capitalized on a collapse by Arizona's Nathan Tyler to capture The Players Cup Sunday at Pine Ridge Golf Club. Purchase Photo Print

That was the cue for action and eventual winner Carlos Sainz Jr., who was first and strongest out of the pack with four birdies on the final six holes to claim the $27,000 first prize.

The 27-year-old from Woodstock, Ill., turned a day that was going along in a ho-hum, even-par way into a four-under 68 with the surge, giving him a one-shot win over third-round leader Tyler.

He posted 17-under 271.

"The back side was pretty incredible," Sainz said. "Four out of the last six, what can I say? The putts just dropped. No. 15 and 17 were big putts, and the par putt on 18 -- well, obviously I didn't know what the guys behind me were doing and I couldn't see the leaderboard, but I'm happy I made the one on 18."

He did credit his putting for his first PGA Tour Canada win, and none were bigger than the 10-footer for par at the 72nd hole after he "roasted" his birdie putt from about 60 feet away.

"I was nervous but I wasn't as nervous as maybe I should have been or could have been," Sainz said. "I just tried to tell myself to hit a good putt, let it happen. I picked the right line and it went in.

"I kind of roasted the first one."

The win lifted Sainz into fourth spot on the tour's money list, key when the end-of-season rewards include an automatic promotion to the Web.com Tour for the top five.

"It's always been in the back of my mind, since the start of the season. You want to do well to be in that top five or top 10," he said. "Plain and simple, with golf, you just have to take it one tournament at a time and you try to do your best.

"I'm definitely in good position but I definitely want to contend some more this year."

The bad bit of news was that Sainz missed being in the top three after The Players Cup, and the invites to this week's RBC Canadian Open, by just $179.

Instead, Sainz will tee off this afternoon in the Illinois State Open in Glenview, Ill.

Sunday, when Tyler coughed up his two-shot lead with a drive way left and the double at the 11th, it was like throwing a raw steak out in front of lions.

The instant action not only saw Sainz get busy, but Tyler righted his own ship to make three birdies coming in.

Canadians Kent Eger and Mackenzie Hughes, who finished tied for third, three back of the winner, also caught fire late and made a bid for the title with five late birdies and an eagle combined.

And South Dakota's Wil Collins, who's second on the PGA Tour Canada's money list, England's David Skinns and Iowa's Bradey Schnell also joined the fray. All three shot 67 with fine back nines to finish in a tie for fifth.

Patience not only helped put Sainz over the top, but a little learning, too.

After joining the tour three years ago, he played The Players Cup in 2010 and 2011. Both times he missed the cut and the course was the clear winner.

"Maybe just comfortable (now) with the golf course," Sainz said. "Out here, if you get on the wrong side of the (hole) a little bit, just get a couple of bad breaks, you can shoot over par in a heartbeat.

"It's just a tough golf course. You have to stay really patient and it took me a couple of years to really figure that out."

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

Read more by Tim Campbell.

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