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José de Jesús Rodríguez rallies in final round to win United Leasing Championship
José de Jesús Rodríguez shot a final round 70 to win the United Leasing & Finance Championship at Victoria National Golf Club.
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NEWBURGH, Ind. – José de Jesús Rodríguez has become a case study in perseverance.
Four years ago, the native of Irapuato, Mexico earned his first card on the Web.com Tour. However, he struggled during his two years on tour. Rodríguez made the cut in less than half of his events the first year and was out a year later after making the weekend in just a single tournament.
He spent the last two years competing on the PGA Tour Latinoamérica and led the tour’s Order of Merit last season to earn his way back. In his second stint on the Web.com, Rodríguez has seemingly found his footing with a pair of top-10 finishes.
Make it three, actually. El Camarón is now a champion on the Web.com Tour.
Rodríguez tamed the daunting layout in 6-under par this week at Victoria National Golf Club to win the 2018 United Leasing & Finance Championship. The 37-year-old took claimed the top spot on the leaderboard after a 2-under par 70 in the final round Sunday to win by one shots.
His reaction to the win
“This is my dream,” said Rodríguez. “I give thanks to all the people that helped me. My dad, my sponsor, my family. My brother showed me golf. This win is very special.”
Rodríguez caught fire to finish his opening nine at Victoria National. After four straight pars to opening the day, he recorded birdies both par threes on the front (No. 5 and No. 7) before taking the lead with another circle on the card at the par-4, eighth.
He pushed his lead to two with a birdie on the par-5, 10th. The rest of the field never got within that margin the rest of the day until the final hole.
“It was very important (to start well),” said Rodríguez. “This game is fun. I told my caddie that ‘every shot is fun. We can do it.’ This is victory is for my caddie too.”
Wyndham Clark put himself in contention with a red-hot back nine. Sitting at 1-over for the tournament at the turn, the 24-year-old got back to even with a birdie on 10. But starting on 13, Clark turned heads with a birdie-eagle-birdie stretch to get to 4-under.
That eagle on 14 was something else. Standing in the left rough, Clark managed to hook the ball around a tree and onto the back left portion of the putting surface. The ball rolled back down the slope and into the cup.
Even the television feed on the Golf Channel had a difficult time tracking it. Clark later added a birdie on 18 to post a 67 in the final round and sit in the clubhouse at 5-under. He finished in solo second.
“Making the turn, I was pretty far back,” said Clark. “I was really just trying to play one shot at a time. When I made that eagle, you start thinking about it a little bit. But, I still had a lot of golf. I played well down the stretch. To get second from where I was nine holes in, it is pretty special.”
Rodríguez shut the door on any playoff with solid play over the final three holes. After giving up a stroke with a bogey on 15, he made two pars and a bogey to clinch the victory.
His first professional victory since winning Abierto del Paraguay-Copa NEC
This is his first professional victory since winning the Abierto del Paraguay-Copa NEC on the PGA Tour Latinoamérica last August. Rodríguez was 23rd on the Web.com Tour Money List coming into this week but will see a jump up the standings.
“I was nervous a little bit,” said Rodríguez. “I hit it and did not think. I just hit it on those last two holes.”
Maverick McNealy, the leader after the first three rounds, played steady for most of the round but couldn’t keep pace with the birdie barrage. The Stanford grad shot a 74 to finish in a tie for third at 3-under with Kyoung-Hoon Lee (final round 66).
Roberto Castro made a similar run up the leaderboard with a 5-under 31 on the front. He was within one or two of the lead for most of the back nine until suffering back-to-back double bogeys on 16 and 17 and placed tied for fifth.
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