Ryan Alford, the rising APGA Tour star from Shreveport, Louisiana, held off PGA TOUR-tested Willie Mack in a tense, head-to-head battle to claim a one-stroke victory Tuesday in the final round of APGA Tour Louisville at Valhalla Golf Club.
Playing in just his fifth APGA Tour competition, Alford saw his first round, three-stroke lead vanish because of two double bogeys on the front nine before settling down and birdieing the 17th to give him a two-shot lead heading into the final hole. He shot a four-over par 76 in difficult conditions on the challenging layout at Valhalla, where Tiger Woods won the 2000 PGA Championship (playoff vs. Bob May) and where Rory McIlroy topped Phil Mickelson by one stroke to win the 2014 PGA Championship. Mack, playing alongside Alford in the final group, navigated the last 16 holes in one under par to apply the pressure, but his birdie on the par-5 18th hole left him one stroke short.
Alford finished the tournament at even-par 144 while Mack came in at one-over 145. Andrew Fernandes of Lakewood, California, took third at three-over 147 with DeVaughn Robinson of Houston and Nick Wade of Lithonia, Georgia, tied for fourth at four-over 148. The round of the day was turned in by Rafa Guerrero Lauria of Pompano Beach, Florida, who had five birdies in a two-under effort to finish tied for sixth with Patrick Newcomb of Jacksonville, Florida, and Joshua Seale of Winter Park, Florida.
“The wind and the heat were a factor and I didn’t have my best today,” said Alford, who practices regularly with PGA TOUR pro Sam Burns, his high school teammate from Shreveport. “But, I weathered the storm. Willie Mack is one of the top players in the sport, so I’m thrilled to get this victory under the gun.”
Alford emerged victorious at APGA Tour Scottsdale April 20 and thus becomes the second two-time winner on the APGA Tour this year. Landon Lyons took the season-opening APGA Tour Crossings at Carlsbad (tied with Michael Herrera) and then won the prestigious APGA Tour Farmers Insurance Open Invitational, the annual PGA TOUR tandem event at Torrey Pines.
Mack, the owner of some 65 wins on various tours including the APGA Tour over the years, played in the PGA TOUR’s Farmers Insurance Open and Genesis Invitational earlier this year as a sponsor exemption and has been invited to compete in his hometown (Flint/Detroit, Michigan) Rocket Mortgage Classic July 1-4. Other notable finishers at Valhalla were APGA Tour stalwarts Tim O’Neal of Savannah (9th), Kevin Hall of Cincinnati and Jordan Bohannon of Southfield, Michigan, (11th) and PGA of America member Jabir Bilal of Atlanta (13th).
APGA Tour Louisville is the seventh tournament of its landmark 2021 season, the 12th year for the circuit which began in 2010 with three events and $40,000 in purses. The 2021 schedule features 13 events with $350,000 in prize money.
Alford, who played collegiately at Louisiana Tech, will try to win three in a row in his home state as the APGA Tour heads south next week (May 31-June 2) for APGA Tour New Orleans at TPC Louisiana. Alford pocketed the $8,000 first prize and Mack won $4,000 from the purse of $25,000.
APGA Tour New Orleans is the eighth event on the 2021 schedule of 13 events offering $350,000 in prize money.
In addition to hosting the event at Valhalla and APGA Tour Black History Month at PGA Golf Club in February, the PGA of America has career consultants at all APGA Tour events, working with players on career development and networking opportunities in the golf industry.