LaBerge/Getty Images Jonas Blixt became the third rookie to win on the PGA TOUR this season.
By Bill Cooney, PGATOUR.COM
Jonas Blixt is one of the best putters on the PGA TOUR and he proved it on Sunday at the Frys.com Open.
Blixt used his short game magic en route to a final-round, 3-under 68 for a one-shot victory over a host of challengers at CordeValle in San Martin, Calif.
Blixt became the third rookie to win the PGA TOUR this season, joining John Huh (Mayakoba Golf Classic) and Ted Potter Jr. (The Greenbrier Classic).
“It’s unbelievable,” Blixt said. “I have no words right now. This is the biggest dream I’ve ever had.”
His short game made that dream come true.
Blixt, ranked third on the PGA TOUR in strokes gained-putting, played a brilliant flop shot on the 17th hole that came to rest within 7 feet after his drive went over the green on the reachable par 4. The putt had just enough gas to drop in the bottom side of the hole for a birdie 3 to give him the outright lead.
On the 18th, Blixt’s approach shot landed hard on the green and came to rest about 40 feet away from the hole on the opposite side of a tricky ridge in the green. A difficult first putt left a terrifying 3-footer left for par.
Blixt, wearing a red shirt and matching shoes, lined up the putt with his caddie, took a couple of practice strokes, buried the putt in the center of the hole and let out a huge fist pump.
He was then tackled by family and friends in celebration.
With the victory, Blixt moved up to 35th on the money list — climbing closer to qualify for the Masters — and earned the all-important two-year exemption on the PGA TOUR. He is also the seventh first-time winner this season.
Blixt grew up in Sweden playing ice hockey. But he said he never got big enough to compete on the biggest of stages.
“Golf kind of suited me well,” Blixt said. “Just kept playing golf and tried to make a career out of it.”
Tim Petrovic (64) and rookie Jason Kokrak (68) tied for second place.
Petrovic, attempting to win for the first time since 2005, came into the day ranked 200th on the money list. More than anything, he was worried about getting into next week’s event at the McGladrey Classic. He’s now in — and he moved up to 132nd on the money list.
“I kind of attacked it like I was playing a one-and-done, Monday qualifier,” Petrovic said. “It kept me focused all day and it seemed to work.”
Kokrak had his best finish on the TOUR and moved from No. 167 to No. 117 on the money list. He was a graduate from the Web.com Tour last season, where he won twice.
Jimmy Walker, Vijay Singh, Alexandre Rocha and third-round leader John Mallinger tied for fourth place, two shots back.
Mallinger carded an outward 38 to fall off the pace and couldn’t recover. It was still his third top-five finish of the season and moved him up 20 spots to 78th on the money list.