Peter Tomasulo fired a 10-under-par 61 Sunday to come from eight shots behind and win the Ford Wayne Gretzky Classic by one. The 28-year old-Californian rallied on the final day, racing by the leaders to finish with a 24-under total at the Georgian Bay Club over Vermont rookie Keegan Bradley.
Bradley birdied the final hole for a 6-under 65 and solo second. Kevin Chappell, who held a five-stroke lead after three days, managed only an even-par 70 to wind up at 22 under and in third place.
“To be honest, I thought he (Chappell) was uncatchable because of the way he played the first three rounds,” said Tomasulo, who won for the second time in his career, both coming in Canada. “I thought we might be able to get something going and think about second place. I wasn’t expecting to shoot 10 under.”
Bradley, who started the day in second and five back of Chappell, told the media Saturday that somebody could shoot 61 on Sunday, considering he’d done it on Friday and Chappell had done it in Thursday’s opener.
“I felt like I played great all week and I was close to a really good round,” said Tomasulo, who also shot a second-round 61 in his first win, the 2005 Alberta Classic. “I just tried to stay patient. All of a sudden, I started making putts and hitting it close today. I just got on a roll early and kept it going.”
Tomasulo birdied two of his first three holes to reach 16 under and added another before the turn to get to minus-17, but still a long way from Chappell, who held the outright lead after every round had been setting Nationwide Tour scoring records in the process.
“I kept my chin up and just plugged along and then all of a sudden good things happen pretty quick,” he said.
The former California Golden Bear kept attacking pins and leaving himself short birdie putts. He made seven of them and carded a 29 on his inward nine to reach the clubhouse 30 minutes in front of Chappell and Bradley.
“My brother, Nick, was caddying for me this week and we talked before the start of the round about not looking at a board at all,” said the winner. “I accidentally did on 15. I looked and saw I was only one back and Chappell hadn’t been doing anything and then I hit it close on the last three.”
Tomasulo’s last three birdie putts came from 3, 2 and 6 feet.
“The last one was a big one to make,” he said. “When I birdied 17 I saw I had a one-shot lead because we crossed paths with them coming down 16. I knew 16 and 17 were tough holes to make birdie on but 18 is a birdie hole. I knew a one-shot lead isn’t much on that hole.”
After signing his scorecard, Tomasulo had to wait to see if either of the two could catch him. Both made a pair of pars and reached the uphill, 608-yard closing hole needing eagle to tie.
Bradley laid up and his wedge stopped five feet from the pin and he would roll that in for second place.
Chappell hit two monster shots to reach pin high but was 90 feet from the cup. His first putt came up short and he wound up missing his 10-footer for birdie and settling for third place.
“There wasn’t much that was good,” said Chappell, who was looking for his second win of the year. “It was just sloppy all day. I never got into a rhythm. I was really searching on the back side to find it. I hit some good shots down the stretch and had a chance to catch Pete and I just couldn’t do it. The putter let me down this weekend. It’s disappointing.”
The victory was worth $144,017 for Tomasulo and moved him from No. 97 to No. 9 on the money list.
Fourth-Round Notes: Peter Tomasulo’s final-round 61 was the lowest finish by a tournament winner since Kyle Reifers at the 2006 Chattanooga Classic. … Tomasulo’s rally from 8 strokes down is the biggest on Tour this year and the best since Derek Lamely came from 8 back to win the 2009 Nationwide Children’s Hospital Invitational. … Tomasulo finished the week No. 1 in total putts with 112.
Kevin Chappell needed only 52 putts for the first two days to reach 19 under par. Chappell had 31 putts on Saturday and 32 Sunday and was only 3 under for the final 36 holes. … Chappell moved up one place to No. 2 on the money list this week, cashing a check for $54,406.73. His season total of $267,328 trails No. 1 Chris Kirk by only $441. … Chappell failed in his attempt to become the first wire-to-wire winner on the Nationwide Tour since Colt Knost at the 2008 Price Cutter Charity Championship.
James Hahn finished a career-best tied for fourth, and moved from No. 33 to No. 19 on the money list. The 25 leading money-winners at the end of the year will earn PGA Tour cards for the 2011 season. … Keegan Bradley pocketed $86,410 for his second-place effort and that vaulted him from No. 95 to No. 17 on the money list. … Presenting sponsor Ford awarded 2011 Ford Fiestas to both the celebrity winner and the amateur winner of the pro-am. The winning amateur team of pro Jesse Hutchins and Sandy Edmonston finished first overall with a 45-under score. Martin Piller and hockey player Corey Perry of the Anaheim Ducks finished second overall at 44 under to win the celebrity division.