OMAHA, Neb. – Bronson La’Cassie never thought about winning this week, choosing to just focus on playing golf instead. It was that mindset that allowed him to overcome a bogey on No. 16 to fall two strokes behind Matt Bettencourt with two holes to play in the Cox Classic, the final regular-season event on the 2013 Web.com Tour schedule.
La’Cassie responded by going birdie-birdie to tie Bettencourt at 21 under par at the end of regulation. The Australian then went on to win with a two-putt par on the third playoff hole at Champions Run for his first victory on the Web.com Tour.
La’Cassie’s triumph was worth $144,000. He finished the regular season No. 6 on the money list as the top 25 on the cash chart earned their PGA Tour cards for the 2013-14 season.
John Peterson (67) came up one stroke shy of the playoff at 20-under 264.
Finishing three back in a tie for fourth were D.J. Brigman (64) and Kevin Tway (65).
“It feels really good, it gives you the belief that you can do it again so it feels great,” said La’Cassie. “I’ve never been to the Tour before so that will be sweet."
La’Cassie’s journey in golf started in Australia, where he started playing at age 6. He didn’t start getting serious until age 14 and knew that if he wanted to accomplish his goals, he would need come to over and play in the United States.
“I’ve always wanted to play in America, watching it on TV back home,” he said. “This is the place you want to be if you’re going to make it.”
La’Cassie, 30, made the tough decision to leave home to attend the University of Minnesota to play golf because the coach there attended the same high school as him back in Australia. He finished his career in college as the first four-time All-American in school history and won many awards, including the Big Ten Les Bolstad Award for lowest season stroke average. He also holds two of the top-10 scoring averages in Gopher golf history.
La’Cassie will now set his sights on the Web.com Tour Finals to position himself with the highest ranking possible for next season. He plans to keep it simple in these final four events and keep the same demeanor he used to win in a playoff Sunday afternoon.
“I’m playing well,” he said. “I’m really not going to worry about too much and just keep playing.”
Bettencourt might have lost in the playoff, but he did win this week. He played this year out of the past champions category on the PGA Tour and only got into nine events. The runner-up finish moved him to No. 16 on the final money list, earning him a return trip to the Tour next season.
This is the 38-year-old’s second consecutive runner-up finish on the Web.com Tour and he plans to build off those performances and focus his attention on the Web.com Tour Finals starting next week at the Hotel Fitness Championship in Fort Wayne, Ind.
“It’s good to have my card back,” he said. “I feel great and I’m looking forward to playing next week.”
--Bronson La’Cassie earned his first career win in his 73rd career start. He picked up the winner’s check for $144,000 and moved from No. 33 to No. 6 on the money list to earn his 2013-14 PGA Tour card.
--La’Cassie becomes the 12th first-time winner in 21 events this year. He made the cut in 10 of 19 starts this season, and tied for third in both the Mid-Atlantic Championship and the Albertsons Boise Open.
--La’Cassie becomes the third foreign-born winner this year. He joins Benjamin Alvarado (Chile/Chile Classic) and Alex Aragon (Mexico/WNB Golf Classic) in the category. He is also the second foreign-born winner of the Cox Classic, joining 1999 champion Mathew Goggin of Australia.
--La’Cassie is now 1-0 in playoffs on the Web.com Tour. The playoff was the fourth on tour this year – United Leasing Championship, Utah Championship, Albertsons Boise Open – and the fifth in tournament history (1998, 2000, 2005 and 2008).
--Matt Bettencourt is now 0-2 in career Web.com Tour playoffs; he was runner-up to D.A. Points at the 2008 Miccosukee Championship. Bettencourt collected the runner-up check for $86,400 and moved from No. 63 to No. 16 on the money earned his PGA Tour card for the 2013-14 season.
--Leading money winner Michael Putnam maintained his grasp of the top spot and finished the regular season at No. 1 to earn Full Exempt status for the 2013-14 PGA Tour season. Putnam started the week with a $37,735 lead over No. 2 Ben Martin, posted a 14-under total to finish tied for 12th while Martin wound up at 7 under and tied for 40th. Putnam finished his season with $450,184, with Martin ending at No. 2 with $399,769, a difference of $50,415.
--Four players that were outside the top 25 played their way into the top 25 this week: Bronson La’Cassie up from No. 33 to No. 6; Matt Bettencourt up from No. 63 to No. 16; Miguel Carballo up from No. 29 to No. 23; and Wes Roach up from No. 26 to No. 22.
--Four players dropped out of the top 25 after missing the 36-hole cut: Steven Alker down from No. 22 to No. 26; Ashley Hall down from No. 23 to No. 27; Mathew Goggin down from No. 24 to No. 28; and Patrick Cantlay down from No. 25 to No. 29.
--Len Mattiace started the week No. 80 on the money list needing a great week to climb inside the top 75 to qualify for the Web.com Tour Finals. His 67 in the final round placed him in a tie for seventh putting him at No. 58.
“It’s a real good feeling,” he said. “I’m happy with it and I look forward to the next four weeks.”
Mattiace believes his swing has come into form just in time to make some noise at the Finals.
“I think I made one bad swing the entire tournament,” he said. “With the pressure on it feels good to be able to execute. It’s a good feeling.”
--The 315-yard ninth hole continues to be an easy mark for the field. The drivable par 4, which has been the easiest par 4 on the Web.com Tour for the past seven consecutive years, yielded a scoring average of 3.529. There were 15 eagles over the four days, and a total of 18 eagles on that hole in both 2007 and 2008, the most in any single year.
--The Web.com Tour heads east next week for the first of the four Finals events. The inaugural Hotel Fitness Championship will be played at Sycamore Hills Golf Club in Fort Wayne, Ind.