SANDY If Brendon Todd hadn't gone and spoiled everything, we might have had quite the exciting finish at the Utah Championship Sunday at Willow Creek Country Club.
Who knows, they probably would still be playing today.
Six golfers finished at 16-under-par 268 and another six finished at 269 with another five players a stroke back at 270.
All those golfers bunched together would have made for a thrilling final day if Todd hadn't already lapped the field with a tournament-record, 22-under 262 total, six shots light years in a Nationwide Tour event ahead of the field.
Todd's six-shot victory is almost unheard of. Only six times in the 18-year-history of the Nationwide Tour has a golfer won by more than six shots.
"I'm ecstatic," said Todd, who was greeted on the final green with a hug from his fiance, Rachel. "It's an emotional win because as hard as we work to get out to this tour and as hard as it is to get on top on this tour. I was really waiting for it to be my week."
It was definitely Todd's week from his first round when he started with an eagle and four birdies. The 23-year-old from Atlanta was in the lead at 9-under par with three holes to play Thursday when he started thinking about shooting a crazy number like 59. Instead he bogeyed two of the last three holes and didn't birdie the par-5 17th and shot a 64 which left him one shot off the lead.
"I learned a lot from that day," Todd said. "That was my goal the last three days to eliminate my bogeys and I did it."
After making those late bogeys in Round 1, Todd made just one more bogey over his final 54 holes the 9th hole Friday while making 16 birdies.
Todd started the final round a shot ahead of Marc Leishman at 18-under par and two shots ahead of PGA Tour regular Kyle Thompson. They were well on front of Jonathan Fricke, another three shots back and a group of four at 12-under.
With Thompson struggling early he played the front nine in 1-over par the tournament quickly turned into a two-man duel between Todd and Leishman, a 24-year-old from Australia.
After nine holes, Todd's lead was up to two, thanks to a birdie at No. 3, while Leishman had all pars. At No. 10, Leishman had a chance to cut into the lead but missed a 3-foot putt. Then at No. 12 Leishman hit his ball out of bounds to the right it was just one foot out and that gave Todd the cushion he needed.
When Todd hit it close at No. 13 and made birdie to go to 20-under par, he had a four-shot lead on the field.
"The one at 13 really gave me the big boost I needed," he said. "It definitely freed me up to take advantage and finish it."
Playing relaxed, Todd birdied the par-3 15th when he rolled in a 25-foot putt and added a 10-footer at No. 17. He received a loud ovation as he walked up to the No. 18 green, where he two-putted for a final-round 67 and the tournament-record 262 total.
For Todd, it was his fifth professional win since graduating from the University of Georgia last year, but the $99,000 check was the biggest of his career by far. The big payday moved Todd from No. 53 on the money list to No. 15, putting him in reach of making the PGA Tour if he can stay in the top 25 the rest of the year.
Leishman tied for second at 268 with Thompson, Jeff Klauk, Brian Smock, Ryan Hietala and Won Joon Lee, whose 64 was the best round of the day.
"It was frustrating, I couldn't get it close to the hole and my putter wasn't working," said Leishman. "But my turn will come."
Former BYU golfer Clay Ogden finished with a 5-under-par 66, which put him in a group of six golfers at 269 tied for 8th place. His $14,300 check didn't match his Utah Open first prize of a year ago, but the main thing for Ogden was the chance to play again at the Boise Open this week. The top 25 finishers automatically get into the following week's tournament.
"The goal was top 25, but I was hoping to get in the top 10," said Ogden. "I was just trying to play well and make some birdies."
Farmington's Daniel Summerhays, who is already exempt for the year, had a chance to finish in the top 25, but made a double-bogey 5 on the par-3 18th hole to finish with a 69 and a 9-under-par 275 total. He won $2,750 for his 35th-place tie finish.
Utah Championship final leaderboard
At Willow Creek CC
Brendon Todd 262
Marc Leishman 268
Kyle Thompson 268
Ryan Hietala 268
Brian Smock 268
Jeff Klauk 268
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