Ortiz holed out twice from off the green on the front nine Sunday, using a putter both times, to take a two-shot lead at the turn. He still had plenty of work, however. His two closest pursuers were Johnson, the reigning FedExCup champion, and Koepka, the four-time major winner who was the player consultant on Memorial Park’s radical renovation.
“I was trying to mind my own business,” Ortiz said. “I’ve been working really hard on staying positive, patient and don’t let my emotions get the best of me and I think I did an amazing job this week.”
Providing an exciting finish was another objective of Doak, who studied under Pete Dye and shadowed him at the first PLAYERS Championship at TPC Sawgrass.
When Dye was criticized for the severity of his designs, he claimed that he was simply creating a canvas for players to display their immense skill. “We’re just giving them the opportunities to hit great golf shots,” Dye said.
Memorial Park’s closing holes gave Ortiz that opportunity. The first came on the par-5 16th, where he faced a 223-yard second shot to a water-guarded green. Ortiz started walking after his ball almost immediately after striking it. He knew it was good, and he watched it roll 8 feet from the hole. He missed the eagle putt, but his birdie gave him back the lead he’d lost after making par on the first six holes of the back nine.
Doak built Memorial Park’s final hole to be a brute after giving players several birdie opportunities on the back nine. Ortiz walked to the tee with a one-shot lead. This was another opportunity to show his mettle, and he did. He hit both the fairway and the green before rolling in the 22-foot birdie putt to seal his first PGA TOUR victory.
He missed just four fairways and three greens Sunday to shoot a 65 that gave him a two-shot victory over Johnson and Matsuyama. Koepka finished fifth, five shots behind Ortiz, while Day faded Sunday and tied for seventh. Koepka closed with consecutive 65s, making a second-half surge after struggling in the first two rounds with a new driver.
Johnson missed a 7-foot birdie putt on 17, and both he and Matsuyama missed makeable birdie tries on 18. Johnson hit the ball impeccably on the weekend but, outside of the 60-foot birdie putt he made on the 11th hole Sunday, he lost strokes on the greens.
Ortiz became the third player from Mexico to win on the PGA TOUR, and his maiden win came in his adopted home state. He’s lived in Texas since arriving at the University of North Texas. He had a solid career for the Mean Green but wasn’t considered a can’t-miss prospect when he turned pro. Then, in his first full season as a professional, he won three times on the Korn Ferry Tour to earn an immediate PGA TOUR promotion. He couldn’t have imagined he’d have to wait six years for another win.
“I’m really happy the way everything played out, and then obviously this time it went my way,” Ortiz said. “I feel like I’ve put in the work, my team has been working with me really hard and I’m just happy.”
Source: PGA tour