Willie Mack III comes through play-off to win inaugural APGA championship
Willie Mack III came from behind to win the inaugural Butterfield Bermuda APGA Championship in dramatic fashion at Port Royal Golf Course yesterday.
The 34-year-old held it together when it mattered most to come out on top in a three-way play-off for the title with overnight leader Joseph Hooks and Marcus Byrd.
“It’s pretty good to be able to put my name on the trophy for the first time,” Mack told The Royal Gazette.
“I won last year in the Billy Horschel Invitational and that was the first year so just being able to leave a legacy means a lot.”
A see-saw battle for the title spilled over into extra holes after leader Hooks three-putted for bogey at No 18 to finish tied with Mack and Byrd at four under par.
Mack, last season’s APGA Player of the Year, appeared to have left himself with work to do when replaying the 18th as the first play-off hole after his tee shot strayed off the fairway and landed near the cart path.
But with Byrd missing the green after landing in the rough and Hooks also missing the putting surface despite finding the fairway with his tee shot, Mack seized the advantage with a gorgeous wedge approach from 150 yards that landed 12 feet above the pin.
The Michigan resident then two-putted for par while his rivals rolled their par putts past the hole to clinch his third win on the Tour.
“Everybody are friends here so it’s kind of sad but it also makes me happy to get the win,” Mack said.
“Everybody played well this week and I think just playing here and getting that experience on this course will help everybody.”
Trailing overnight leader Hooks by four shots heading into the second and final round of the 36-hole championship, Mack carded the day’s lowest round of 68 to thrust himself in the hunt.
He played the front nine at three under after rattling in four birdies, including back-to-back at the 3rd and 4th holes.
Mack carded two additional birdies coming in and must have felt his hard work had come undone when a second bogey of the round at the last hole left leader Hooks needing only par the same hole to clinch the title.
However, Hooks failed to capitalise to set up an intriguing play-off where Mack ultimately prevailed.
“I played pretty good,” said Mack, who pocketed the $15,000 winner’s purse. ”I missed a six footer for birdie on 17 and then three-putted 18 to go back to four under.
“I put myself in a good position coming down the stretch and had a couple of bad holes on the back, but other than that it was a pretty good day.”
Hooks, who completed the final 18 holes at level par, was gutted to have come up shy of a maiden win on the Tour.
“It is extremely disappointing,” he lamented. “It’s tough, but that’s golf.
"I had a chance in the play-off but the approach shot was not going to cut it and I hit a bad first putt.”
Hooks and two-times Tour winner Byrd earned $6,000 each for finishing tied for second, with Christian Heavens and Joey Stills rounding out the top five.
Amateur Damian Palanyandi was Bermuda’s top performer, placing thirteenth overall with a six-over 148.
“I started off a little shaky and I was a little nervous again,” Palanyandi said.
“I bogeyed the first three holes but pulled it together and made the turn at two over but I missed a couple of short ones on 15 and 16 and that was pretty much my round.
“Today was a little bit windier and some pins I have not seen before but it was a good challenge.”
Oliver Betschart, Camiko Smith and Cory DeSilva were the remaining local players in the field of 21.
Smith finished eighteenth at twelve over, with 14-year-old Betschart and DeSilva occupying the last two places on the leaderboard.