Jul 24, 2016 at 12:28 pm | Print View
MARION — Neither the 2014 nor 2015 champion of the TrueNorth Greater Cedar Rapids Open raised a check worth $25,000 at the end of the final round, though they were tied for the lead through Day 2.
The win, and the record payout, instead went to Seth Fair, a veteran of the tournament.
Fair overcame a three-stroke deficit Saturday en route to a four-stroke victory.
Mark Blakefield, who won the tournament in 2014, finished tied for fourth after shooting 1-over par, and Paul Apyan, 2015’s winner, shot 2-over for a sixth-place finish.
Rounds of 68 and 66 Thursday and Friday kept Fair in contention, and he put himself over the top with his final-round 65. The University of Indianapolis alumnus and Brownsburg, Ind., native, said his game clicked for him on Saturday.
“I’ve been hitting it really well all week, and even last week in Waterloo I was really dialed in,” said Fair, who finished tied for second in the Waterloo Open. “Today I was flighting the golf ball really well because the wind blew fairly solid for most of the day, but I hit the fareways and just had good numbers.
“I was able to get it close to the hole and give myself as many opportunities as I could.”
Those opportunities were spread throughout the course, as Fair made four birdies each on the front and back nine holes.
On No. 12 Fair played his irons over a gaggle of geese on the fairway to put himself in a position for eagle before putting for the birdie. It was one of several eagle opportunities in his round, though missing them ultimately did not cost him the title.
The crucial putt of his tournament may have been on No. 16, wherein he sank his par putt. Apyan, in the leaders group and playing behind Fair, bogeyed the hole, putting hopes of a repeat nearly out of the question.
Fair birdied No. 17 to go up three strokes, a lead that would grow only minutes later. Apyan triple bogeyed on 17 to end his shot at taking home back-to-back wins.
“I played really really well from tee to green,” Apyan said. “I think I had three bad swings. Two were out of bounds. One was a hazard.”
Apyan said he knew he had to make something happen at 17 after seeing Fair’s score. Apyan said he had a decent lie in the rough and went for broke, aiming to eagle the hole and keep his hope alive.
“It just didn’t happen,” he said.
Blakefield ran into trouble of his own. Tied for the lead after Day 2, and with the lowest round of any player in the tournament, a second-round 61, the title could have been his.
However, after 11 birdies on Friday, Blakefield had just two on Saturday.
“I played fine. The front nine, I really hit it pretty good, I just kept missing the fairway by about a foot, and it was just tough to get anything close from there,” Blakefield said. “I felt like I putted great, me and Paul [Apyan] both, they just didn’t go in. It was pretty incredible.”
Fair cleared a hurdle with his victory in the Greater Cedar Rapids Open. He plays on the PGA Latin America Tour and has three career starts on the Web.com tour.
He feels the victory bodes well for the rest of his season.
“It’s a big confidence booster,” Fair said. “I’ve had some close calls all year, with some qualifiers and some U.S. Open type stuff, to get over the hump and to play really great golf down the stretch under pressure validates all the hard work I’ve put in.”