Steven Bowditch has held on to win the Valero Texas Open and earns himself a place at August National in two weeks time.
Steven Bowditch has always been considered an under achiever on the golf course. The powerfully built Novacastrian was billed as one of Australia’s best up and coming golfers when he won the 2001 Australian Amateur but battling severe depression for much of the last decade, Bowditch has always struggled to keep his PGA Tour card when given the opportunity to play on the world’s most lucrative tour.
Things have changed dramatically for Bowditch though after he secured his first ever PGA Tour victory this morning at the Valero Texas Open, edging out Will MacKenzie and Daniel Summerhays to win by one stroke.
“After a period of time out there, with the way I was playing, I kind of just accepted the fact that I was going to be playing from cactuses, moving rocks, missing putts and just had to deal with it every time,” Bowditch said immediately after his round. ”
It happened so frequently that it never really surprised me. I was just lucky enough that the wind was up enough today that no one else could squeeze in there and shoot a good score.”
Bowditch went into the final round with a three stroke lead but strong winds saw players struggle to make birdies with just 14 players finishing under par for the day.
A wayward driver meant Bowditch had to rely on his short game to stay ahead of the chasing pack. Several great up-and-down’s late in the round, including a chip for eagle that he almost holed at the 14th, gave Bowditch a handy two-stroke buffer going into the final two holes.
Bowditch revealed after the round that in addition to a wayward driver, nervous putting and tough conditions, he also had to deal with some dumb golf fans in Texas.
“On my down swing someone in the crowd yelled out, “Don’t hook it”! on my way down. So I didn’t, I cut it,” Bowditch said.
“You don’t want it to happen but it is what is it so deal with it the best you can. That’s sort of‑‑ I’m not going to say it upset me but it got my blood‑‑ my heart racing a little bit so I had to take a little bit of time there and try and get back to where I was. I still didn’t think I did that very well.”
After the slow-playing Andrew Loupe missed his chance at eagle from a green-side bunker at the 18th, Bowditch could afford to three-putt from 30-feet to secure the biggest win of his career that included a $1,116,000 winners cheque, a sparkling trophy, cowboy boots and a spot in the 2014 Masters at Augusta National GC in two weeks time.
On hand to see his winning putt at the last hole were fellow Australians John Senden, Aaron Baddeley and Scott Gardiner. Senden won the Valspar Championship just two weeks ago to also earn a place at Augusta National and was wearing a Masters shirt in support for Bowditch.
The Masters will be just the second major championship that Bowditch has teed up in having missed the cut at the 2003 Open Championship. When asked about the idea of playing in The Masters, Bowditch was as laid-back as he was all tournament.
“I haven’t thought about Augusta; the only time I played it has been on the Play Station,” Bowditch replied.
In addition to the support from fellow Australian PGA Tour golfers, Bowditch received a special congratulatory phone call from Greg Norman after the tournament. Greg Norman designed the TPC Antonio layout where the Valero Texas Open was held and has had a strong bond with Bowditch throughout his career.
— Valero Texas Open (@valerotxopen) March 30, 2014