Tucson, Ariz. (March 8, 2009) – Michael Wog II of Phoenix shot a final round four-under 66 for a three-day total of 11-under 199 to win the Arizona PubLinks Championship by nine shots over Tucson’s David McDaniel, who posted a one-over 71 Sunday at Randolph North Golf Complex.
Former University of Arizona standout Andrew Medley of Phoenix, who recently regained his amateur status was third at even-par 210. Chris Kessler of Scottsdale, the 2006 Arizona Mid-Amateur champion, Erik Nielsen of Tucson, a two-time AGA major winner and Kevin Parkhurst of Vail finished in a three-way tie for fourth at 2-over 212 for the three days.
"I’m pretty excited,” said the 27-year-old Wog. "It’s been a lot of hard work lately and it finally paid off. There are no guarantees with golf, even if you keep working hard, it doesn’t always pay off, but I’m working on the right things, I guess."
Wog who started the day with a four shot lead over McDaniel saw his lead cut in half following a two-shot swing on the second hole as Wog had his first and only bogey of the tournament and McDaniel had his second birdie of the day.
Admittedly nervous on the first tee having to face both McDaniel and Kessler, Wog said he knew he would have to play solid, but became a bit unsettled with that quick turn of events.
"After the bogey, I told myself, forget about what’s going on, let’s just try and shoot three or four under from this point on, just play really solid and not worry about David and focus on my game," he said. "If he shots a 62 and beats me, so be it. Had I not birdied the third hole, it would have been a little tougher, but the birdie gave me a little more breathing room.”
McDaniel, who found himself the runner-up for the second consecutive year, after losing a two-shot final round lead in 2008, started off strong with two consecutive birdies, but couldn’t keep the momentum going. He ended the round with just three more birdies and a total of six bogeys.
"I made a bunch of birdies and bogeys and couldn’t save par at all,” said McDaniel, a 2007 U.S. Amateur quarterfinalist. "Nothing really happened out there, I just made too many bogeys. At this stage of my career, not winning is a disappointment and there is not a lot I can take from it, I just need to play better in the future."
Both players made the turn at one-under 35 and Wog maintained his four shot lead through 12 holes. "On the par 4, 13th hole, we both hit really good drives," Wog said. "I hit a pitching wedge to 15 feet left of the flagstick and he went over the green. His putt down the hill went seven or eight feet past the hole and I said to myself if I make it and he misses, that will put me up six with five to play. I was really grinding over the putt, which I made and he missed. I was still not sure I could win because I you can easily make double bogeys on the last holes, but I thought if I could make par, I would be safe."
Another birdie on the 432-yard par four 14th hole, put Wog up seven shots with four to play, but the elusive 18th hole, that he recorded a 11 on in the first round of the 2007 championship still awaited him. A bogey by McDaniel on 17th hole gave Wog an eight shot lead and helped calm his nerves.
"It was a bit ironic, because I had the same approach shot I had two years ago when I chunked it in the water and made 11, but this time, I hit it 10 feet past the hole," he added. "I was finally able to smile on the green because I knew I had a 10 footer for 198, but I left it two feet short. It felt really good to play solid on the back nine. It was pretty cool."
Wog gave up an accounting career in Tucson two years ago to relocate to Phoenix and concentrate on golf. Now, with a victory at the East Valley Short Course and his first AGA major championship, he is finding his hard work paying off and erasing some of the demons of his past.
"I sat down at the beginning of the year, I wanted to win the Short Course, the East Valley Short Course, which I did, and win this one and now I’ve gone two out of three," he said. "Winning a major out here is huge for me. Seven years ago, I tried to walk on at Western Washington University in fall of 2002, but they didn’t take me. I moved to Scottsdale in fall of 2003 to play golf. Then, I went to Western New Mexico University and got a chance to play golf there, but still thought of myself as the guy that couldn’t walk on.
"I still don’t think of myself as a top player like Kellaney and the others that have accomplished a lot, but at some point, you have to look at yourself and have some confidence and winning a tournament like this gives me a lot of confidence."
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