VALDOSTA, Ga. -- Will Wilcox fired a 1-over-par 73 Sunday and cruised to a four-stroke win at the South Georgia Classic, his first career title on the Web.com Tour. Wilcox began the final round at the Kinderlou Forest Golf Club with a whopping seven-stroke lead – courtesy of a course-record 63 Saturday – and never let any of his challengers get closer than the final margin all afternoon.
The 26-year-old from Alabama bogeyed the 72nd hole, but it didn’t matter as he finished at 15 under par, well in front of Monday qualifier Zack Sucher (65), D.J. Brigman (70) and Michael Putnam (70).
Alex Rocha (67), Andrew Loupe (70) and Ryan Spears (71) tied for fifth place, five shots back.
“This is just surreal. I’ve been dreaming about this my whole life,” said Wilcox, who adopted a ‘better golf through cleaner living’ approach at the start of the year. “I’ve made some really big changes in my life and that’s obviously what I needed to do and continue with.”
Wilcox, a third-year pro, picked up a check for $117,000 and vaulted from No. 55 to No. 3 as the tour reached the one-third mark of the 2013 schedule. His season total of $139,061 puts him on track to finish among the 25 leading money winners this year that will earn a spot on the 2014 PGA Tour.
“I can’t even think that far ahead right now,” said Wilcox, trying to gain some perspective of what might be ahead.
Sunday’s finale was not without a bit of drama as Wilcox stumbled a few times, but managed to rebound quickly and dash the hopes of anyone trying to catch him.
“I barely slept. I woke up at 4:00 a.m. My heart was racing but I was so tired,” said the winner of his Saturday night. “It just wasn’t fun at all and I was ready to just get back to the golf course this morning.”
Wilcox ripped a drive at the par-5 second hole and needed only an 8-iron to reach the green in two. A two-putt birdie settled his nerves and increased his lead.
Bogeys at Nos. 3 and 6 dropped him to 15 under par and cut his lead to four strokes. Wilcox then stiff-armed the field at the par-4 seventh hole when he holed a wedge from 135 yards for an eagle-2.
“Four shots with 12 to play doesn’t sound very good but six up with 11 to go is a lot better. I don’t even know what to say,” said Wilcox, who holed a 7-iron for an eagle-2 in Saturday’s record-setting round. “I can’t believe I holed two shots on the weekend. It’s mind blowing. It’s just the damnedest thing. I haven’t got any idea what gotten into me.”
Wilcox remained comfortably in front the rest of the way.
“I relaxed when I saw nobody was making a move,” said the now laid-back champion. “The walk up 18 was sweet.”
Sucher fired the day’s best round, and by finishing in the top 25, he earned a berth in next week’s Stadion Classic in Athens, Ga.
“My immediate goal this week was just to get in the top 25 so I could play again next week,” said Sucher, who started the day 12 shots off the pace. “I had no thoughts about winning. I just wanted to get it going on the front and then see what might happen on the back.”
Sucher made four birdies and an eagle on the front and turned in 6-under 30 after playing that side in 2 over the first three days.
“I had the putter going,” he said. “I guess at that point I started thinking about maybe the top-10 but the goal was still to do well enough to play next week.”
Sucher played on tour in 2011 and made only five cuts in 11 starts. His best finish was a tie for 32nd at the Price Cutter Charity Championship and he wound up No. 174 on the money list. Sucher, 26, graduated from the University of Alabama-Birmingham in 2009 and now lives in Atlanta.
--Wilcox has made the cut in four of his six starts this year. His only other top-25 finish was a tie for 12th at the Chile Classic. He earned his first career Web.com Tour win in his 49th career start.
--Wilcox became the fourth first-time winner in seven events on Tour this year. He joined Kevin Foley (Panama), Patrick Cantlay (Colombia) and Benjamin Alvarado (Brasil) as first-time winners in 2013.
--Brazil’s Alex Rocha birdied four of his final five holes for a 67 and finished in the top five for the second time this year (tied for fourth at the Colombia Championship). Rocha moved up to No. 19 on the money list.
--Daniel Bowden, a Monday qualifier who was born in Valdosta, will be heading to the Stadion Classic thanks to his tie for eighth. Bowden, 24, graduated from Furman University in 2010, and was making only his third career start on tour.
--Sponsor exemption Adam Mitchell fired a 67 and moved up to finish tied for 15th, which also earned him a spot in the Stadion Classic in Athens, where he was a member of the Bulldog golf team and an All-America selection. Mitchell graduated in 2009 and was a member of the 2009 U.S. Walker Cup team. This was his sixth career start, dating back to 2008, when he tied for 51st as an amateur at the Chattanooga Classic. Mitchell, an Atlanta resident, had made two previous cuts.
--Leading money winner Edward Loar stumbled on the weekend with rounds of 78-76 and wound up tied for 58th. Despite the finish, Loar maintained his place at No. 1 on the money list, where he has been for four weeks.