Greg Machtaler of Summerland, BC, drained a dramatic 70-foot birdie putt and posted a sensational final round 9-under 62 to capture the inaugural Forces & Families Open yesterday at Hylands Golf Club.
The 30-year-old become the first Canadian winner on PGA Tour Canada in 2014 by making a brilliant charge up the leaderboard when he played his final 11 holes in 9-under par, a run that included two eagles and a back nine 30.
After finding the green at the 72nd hole, Machtaler rolled in the long distance birdie putt to post the clubhouse lead at 17-under, then watched as neither American Jeff Dennis or Peter Campbell of Baddeck, NS, could match him with a birdie at the last.
When 54-hole leader Greg Eason of England couldn’t hole out for eagle to force a playoff, Machtaler was officially the champion, becoming the first Canadian to win since Max Gilbert at the 2013 Tour Championship of Canada presented by Freedom 55 Financial.
Machtaler made 13 cuts in 24 starts from 2007-2011 and then turned to work at Summerland Golf Club just east of Vancouver after playing just three times in 2011.
A breakout season on the PGA of Canada circuit in 2013, however, where he won four times including the prestigious Canada Cup, led him to consider re-starting his tour career, a decision that paid off with his first PGA Tour Canada win on Sunday.
The 2014 season had been a trying one for Machtaler, who had been dealing with a back injury that had limited his ability to swing the club effectively. After ongoing treatment, he said he was finally able to return to form this week.
Machtaler teed off one hour and 40 minutes before the final group of Eason and Kelvin Day of England, and after holing his long birdie putt at 18, had to wait and see if he would be the champion.
When Eason, who led after each of the first three rounds, couldn’t hole his approach from the right rough, the champion was crowned. The win moves Machtaler to ninth on the Order of Merit with four events to go.
In addition to his victory, Machtaler claimed Freedom 55 Financial Canadian Player of the Week honours along with a $1,500 prize.
PGA Tour Canada