Greenbrier Classic: Blixt waits out weather delay, outlasts field for 2nd career win
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. -- The thunder that boomed over Greenbrier County on Sunday afternoon was nothing compared to the noise Jonas Blixt made on the field at the fourth annual Greenbrier Classic.
The Swedish player and former Florida State University star pumped his fist with a birdie on No. 16 and followed with pars on No. 17 and No. 18 to storm back and win the Classic at the par 70, 7,287-yard Old White TPC.
The players had to wait through a weather delay of three hours, 10 minutes and finished just before 9 p.m. The final two groups teed off a little after 5 p.m.
The victory was his second on the PGA Tour and ended Johnson Wagner's streak of tournaments won when leading entering the final round.
Blixt entered the scoring area with a two-shot lead and had to wait for what Wagner and Jimmy Walker did on No. 17 - a par 5. Both players had pars - Walker lipped out a birdie putt - forcing them to hole out on the par 3 No. 18.
The win gives Blixt his second PGA Tour victory and a spot in the PGA Championship Aug. 8-11 and the 2014 Masters at Augusta.
"To not have my 'A' game and still pull off a win on the PGA Tour, I have a lot of good breaks and my putter worked really well today and all week," said an emotional Blixt. "It's just really cool to finish on top.
"Playing at Augusta is a dream come true," said the 29-year-old Blixt. "I watched it when I was a kid. I always wanted to play there, there and Valderrama. I went there a couple years ago and to be there, it looked exactly what I thought it was going to look like. It's almost like a religious experience just being there."
Wagner finished in a four-way tie for second with Matt Jones, Steven Bowditch and Jimmy Walker after leading by two strokes through three rounds. His string of winning tournaments after leading into the final round ended.
Wagner went into the final round of the 2008 Shell Houston Open with a one-stroke lead on Chad Campbell and claimed the championship by one stroke over Campbell and Geoff Ogilvy. In 2011, he led by a stroke against Chris Stroud entering the fourth round of the 2011 Myakoba Golf Classic, and beat Spencer Levin in a playoff.
Blixt didn't do it all by himself, as Wagner and Jimmy Walker came back to him. Walker finished 3-over in the fourth round with four bogeys and a birdie and Walker was 1-over with two bogeys and a birdie.
"It's kind of hard to catch a guy who's four strokes ahead of you," said Blixt, who trailed Wagner by four strokes and Walker by two. "I was lucky enough I could put some pressure on them around the turn. I just tried to play my best and not to be too nervous. I was shaking a couple times out there. I was happy to make a couple putts."
Much like Wagner, Blixt had struggled of late with eight missed cuts in 16 events and just two top 25 finishes. He also had to overcome a 3-hour, 10-minute weather delay.
He hit 11 of 14 fairways and had 32 putts in 18 holes and no three-putts on the back nine.
This came one day after Blixt said he didn't know where the ball was going when he hit it with his driver.
"I had a really good range session last night," Blixt said. "I just stuck with that and whatever happened, happened. I pulled it off. I pulled off some really good shots and had some birdie putts that I could make."
Ted Potter Jr. was solid in defense of his 2012 Greenbrier Classic championship, but had just four birdies and a bogey to finish at 9 under. Potter secured his second top 10 finish of the season.
"I'm very happy to finish at 9 under," Potter said. "I just love the course, it's tree lined, it's tight and you've got to position yourself still in the fairways out there because of the bunkers out there, but I think it's a course that's fair to everybody."
Potter holds the distinction of finishing higher than any defending champion in the brief history of the Greenbrier Classic. Stuart Appleby followed his 2010 title by missing the cut in 2011 and Scott Stallings answered his title the next year by finishing tied for 56th.
He was relieved to hear the air horn to clear the course.
"I just snapped one in the bunker and had to chip one out and the wind was blowing," he said. "So having to get up and down from 130 yards, I didn't really want to hit that shot when the wind was blowing 20 at the time. I came back and made par so that was good."
But, it wasn't just Potter chasing Wagner. Walker, who was playing with Wagner, tied the three-time PGA Tour champion, as did Blixt. Matt Jones became the sixth player to reach 10 under in the tournament.
A birdie putt on No. 16 gave Blixt a two-stroke lead and Walker and Wagner did the rest. The only pairing following him couldn't get a birdie on No. 17, requiring an ace on the final hole.
With the victory, Blixt earns a $1.134 million share of the $6.3 million Greenbrier purse.
"Satisfaction, just knowing all the hard work has paid off," he said. "Very emotional too, I get to see my family very soon and very happy about that."