Madigan Comes From Behind to Notch First eGolf Tour Title at NorthStone
By Stewart Moore
Huntersville, NC – Former New Mexico State University golfer Tim Madigan of Rio Rancho, NM entered the final round of the eGolf Tour’s NorthStone Open with a two-shot lead, briefly lost that lead, then battled back to post a final-round 68 for his first career win in his rookie year on tour.
The NorthStone Open was the 22nd event of the 2012 eGolf Tour season and was contested this past week at NorthStone Country Club in Huntersville, NC.
Madigan’s week at the P.B. Dye-designed course began in solid fashion with a 3-under 68, but took on a whole new form during Wednesday’s second round, when five birdies and an eagle netted a 7-under 64 and vaulted him to the top of the 36-hole leaderboard entering Thursday’s third and final round.
“This course sets up perfectly for me,” said the 23-year-old Madigan after the second round. “There is nothing very quirky; it’s all right in front of you. I feel like I have a good shot.”
Playing in the day’s final threesome alongside Phillip Mollica of Anderson, SC and Matt Schall of Williamsport, PA, Madigan began his round with a two-shot advantage over his playing partners, but quickly saw it fade as Mollica made an early charge.
A former Clemson star and winner of the eGolf Tour’s El Jadida Classic in Morocco last season, Mollica birdied two of his first three holes to pull even with Madigan before bogeying the par-4 fourth to fall one back.
A Madigan birdie at the short par-3 fifth took him to 11-under, but Mollica – a two-time winner of the prestigious Monroe Invitational – roared back into a tie for the lead with a dramatic eagle at the par-5 sixth to reach 3-under on the day.
At the short par-4 ninth, Mollica added yet another birdie to reach 12-under par, moving one clear of Madigan with nine holes to play.
“He played really solid on the front nine. I was trying to keep pace, but I knew that I was still just one back with nine holes to play,” said Madigan. “I knew I had a few birdie holes back there, so I felt as though I could make up the ground.”
The back nine at NorthStone would serve as Madigan’s victory march.
A birdie-bogey-birdie stretch on 10, 11 and 12 coincided with a Mollica bogey at the par-4 12th that left Madigan at 12-under par and one clear of his foe with six holes to play. Madigan’s birdie at 12 was the stuff NBC Sports telecasts dream of.
“I hit my approach a bit short of the pin and wound up with about 40 feet for birdie, putting up a big slope and then back down to the back right pin,” Madigan said. “I was fortunate that Matt had a similar putt, so I was able to get a look at the line on his, and from there just hit it with the perfect speed.”
The unexpected birdie bomb gave way to a birdie at the par-4 14th just two holes later, which in turn pushed Madigan’s lead to two shots over Mollica at 13-under par.
The two matched pars on 15 and 16, setting Madigan up with a two-shot lead with just two holes to play – the first of which was the watery par-3 17th, featuring a back right hole location that may has well of been floating on an island.
“Rather than saying, ‘don’t hit it in the water,’ if anything I was saying ‘just miss left,” said Madigan, who pulled his tee shot 15 yards left of the green. “After I pulled my tee shot, I hit a great pitch that rolled up to about 4 feet and was able to make the putt for par.”
The stellar up-and-down by Madigan kept him two clear of Mollica, who hit a wonderful tee shot to 20 feet, but rolled his birdie putt 4 feet past the hole, and had to settle for par.
At the par-4 18th, Madigan laced a flawless driver down the center of the fairway, setting up a simple short-iron approach to 30 feet. When Mollica flew the green with his second, Madigan was left with a docile two-putt par for a final-round 68 and his first career eGolf Tour title.
“All of these players came from some of the best colleges in the entire nation,” said Madigan. “I would say the caliber of player out here is a lot better than the New Mexico Open – either way, I’m just happy to get the monkey off my back and get my first eGolf win.”
The New Mexico Open that he referred to was the event’s 2011 edition, where Madigan made his professional debut and walked away the victor. By turning professional at that event – contested in September of last year – he bypassed PGA TOUR Q-School. Madigan has entered Q-School this year after a full season on the eGolf Tour, and will go to PGA National Golf Club in Palm Beach Gardens, FL to attempt first stage qualifying in two weeks.
“As long as my putter keeps on working, everything should be absolutely fine,” said Madigan of his chances at first stage. “My ball striking is there, I just need to work on my chipping a little bit. I feel like I should have no problem getting through.”
The $13,000 winner’s share took Madigan’s year-long earnings to $34,930, good for 23rd on the tour’s money list. The finish was his second top-10 of the year on the eGolf Tour, dating back to a T4 finish at the HGM Hotels Classic at Rock Barn in June.
Mollica finished in solo-second place at 11-under 202 with rounds of 65-69-68. The finish was worth $7,622 to the former Tiger star, and pushed his 2012 earnings up to $22,542.
The runner-up was Mollica’s best finish of the year, and his second top-5 since winning the tour’s El Jadida Classic – contested in the country of Morocco in March of 2011. At that event, Mollica posted rounds of 69-71-71-67—278 to come from behind and beat current PGA TOUR member Brian Harman for his first career win.
Tim O’Neal of Savannah, GA finished alone in third place at 10-under 203, thanks to a final-round 67 while playing in the day’s penultimate threesome. The finish was his third top-10 of the year, and was the best of his eGolf Tour career.
The former Web.com Tour member posed a brief threat to the leaders when he reached 9-under par with a birdie at the par-4 10th, but posted only one more birdie on the day en route to his closing 4-under par effort.
The third-place finish came just days after O’Neal was disqualified from the Web.com Tour’s Chiquita Classic, played just south of Charlotte in Weddington, NC. After Monday qualifying for the event, O’Neal made the cut, but signed an incorrect scorecard on day three that resulted in his disqualification.
Former Virginia Commonwealth star Lanto Griffin of Blacksburg, VA notched solo-fourth place honors with rounds of 68-71-66—205. He earned $4,430 for his play on the week.
The finish marked Griffin’s third top-5 of the 2012 season, and his first since a playoff loss to Clint Jensen at the Forest Oaks Classic in April.
• The tour would like to thank NorthStone director of golf Courtney Ford and his staff for their assistance in running and organizing this event. The golf course at NorthStone was in fantastic shape this week, with head golf course superintendent Darrin Spierings and his crew doing a wonderful job in presenting some of the season’s best putting surfaces. The biggest thanks goes to the members of NorthStone, who graciously allowed the tour access to their course for the week, and volunteered their time to help with starting, scoring and shuttling.
• The tour will take the next two weeks off before returning to action on October 31 – November 2 for the Forest Oaks Open in Greensboro, NC.