Southport, NC – Kevin Roy of Tampa, FL had spent the past couple of years bouncing around various tours, trying to hone his game in order to take that needed next step up golf's proverbial ladder. By day's end at the eGolf Tour's fifth annual Championship at St. James Plantation on Saturday, Roy was telling reporters, "I think I've found my home for the year." The 24-year-old stared down one of the tour's best players in a sudden death session that ended when he converted a 7-foot birdie try to nab the largest win of his career, as well as the event's $15,000 first-place prize.
Roy, a Syracuse, NY native and Long Beach State grad, entered Saturday's final round at 4-under 212, trailing 36- and 54-hole leader Seamus Power of Waterford, Ireland by one shot after a third-round 67 took him from spectator to contender on a blustery Friday afternoon.
In Saturday's final threesome alongside Power and three-time tour winner Matt Ryan of Santa Clarita, CA, Roy held his own early, overcoming a three-putt bogey on the par-5 third with birdies at Nos. 4 and 7 to turn at 5-under par – tied for the lead with Power and one clear of Ryan, who bogeyed the ninth after hitting his tee shot in the trees.
On the back nine of the Jack Nicklaus-designed Reserve Club course, Roy took control out of the gate, birdieing 10 and 11 to jump to 7-under par for the tournament, suddenly two shots clear of the field.
"Those birdies were huge for me, just to get a little bit of momentum going into the back nine," said Roy, 24. "But, even with the lead at that point, I knew it wasn't going to be enough. Those guys are both great players."
Power, a three-time winner and the tour's leading money winner, came unglued at the par-5 12th, recording a double-bogey after his second shot bounced off a tree and out-of-bounds. A follow-up double-bogey three holes later dropped Power out of the mix, eventually leaving him with a final-round 76 and a T6 on the week.
With Power struggling, Ryan moved back into the fold briefly with a birdie at 12 to jump back to 5-under par, just two shots behind Roy, but gave that shot right back with a bogey on the 230-yard par-3 13th – a hole that saw far more bogeys than pars throughout the week.
A loose tee shot on the par-4 15th led to a Roy bogey, which was exacerbated one hole later when Ryan stiffed his tee shot on the par-3 16th to 8 feet, converting the putt for a birdie to move to 5-under par – casually lurking one shot back.
A daunting pin greeted the day's final pairing at the par-5 17th, where Roy was admittedly too cautious on a birdie try, leaving the effort 5 feet short and setting up a tricky par putt to remain one clear of Ryan heading into 18.
The putt missed.
The untimely bogey sent the two to the tee of the par-4 18th, where Ryan gave himself a putt for the win after hitting his second to just 12 feet below the hole. After a two-putt par by Roy, the left-handed Ryan narrowly missed his putt for career win No. 4, sending the twosome back to the tee at 18 with a large St. James crowd sitting idle around the green.
"You always think he's going to make it, and obviously Matt's a great player," Roy said. "I just hit mine too soft going down the hill and didn't really give it a chance."
Both players traded two-putt pars on the first extra hole, then went back to the 18th tee again, where Ryan caught a left-side fairway bunker and Roy laced a massive tee shot down the middle for the third time in roughly 30 minutes.
"That tee shot just suits my eye. I'm a drawer of the golf ball, so I know that if I hit it up that left-hand side it's just going to feed back down the middle," said Roy. "I had been swinging really well, it was just a matter of time as to whether some putts dropped or not."
From 190 yards out, Ryan's second hit the back of the green and trickled long, leaving a 117-yard sand wedge between Roy and a solid opportunity to end the overtime session.
"I had been hitting gap wedge a bit long from that spot, and knew I could step on a sand wedge with the wind at my back," said Roy, referencing his prior approaches from nearly the same yardage.
Roy's sand wedge was idyllic, landing just short of the front-right hole location, bouncing up, and spinning back to 7 feet.
When Ryan's chip trickled to 6 feet right of the hole, Kevin Roy the newcomer was left with a straight-in look up the hill for his first tour win.
With a sizeable crowd looking on, Roy converted, giving himself a pair of fist pumps that all but confirmed the emotion.
"That's the putt you want. That's the one you want to win – just straight in the hole," he said after the round.
The $15,000 payday took Roy up to No. 8 on the eGolf Tour money list, but more importantly, solidified his spot as one of the tour's bright up-and-coming players.
"This is by far the biggest win of my career," he said. "Obviously it means a lot, and hopefully it gives me a lot of confidence moving forward."
For Ryan, the runner-up effort was all too familiar in a season full of them after just two months. The Huntersville, NC resident finished runner-up to J.T. Griffin at the tour's Championship at Callawassie Island last month after an unlucky break at the last led to a bogey that put him one-shot shy of a playoff. From there, Ryan trekked to Guadalajara, Mexico to compete on PGA TOUR Latinoamerica, where he finished tied for second after losing out in a seven-man playoff for the title.
Ryan's $8,500 runner-up check pushed his 2014 earnings up to $16,500, good for fifth on the tour's money list. The former Fresno State standout has a win in each of his last three seasons on the eGolf Tour, including the 2011 Bushnell Classic at Spring Creek, the 2012 Championship at River Run and the 2013 Columbia Classic.
Vaita Guillaume of Tahiti finished in solo-third place at 4-under 284, one shot out of the playoff. He earned $6,500 for the week.
Guillaume, a former Campbell University star, began the final round at 2-under par and was mostly out of the picture after turning at 1-over 37 and 1-under for the week. The Camel standout then birdied 10, 11 and 12 to vault into the picture at 4-under par, eventually birdieing the 17th to offset a bogey at 14 en route to his 284 tally.
Guillaume sat tight behind the 18th green to see if Ryan and Roy happened to both bogey in regulation, but was left with a career-best-tying finish after they each made par.
The finish marked Guillaume's second straight third-place effort on the eGolf Tour, dating back to a T3 at the Cowans Ford Open two weeks ago. The back-to-back top-5s are further evidence of his game rounding into form after a January victory at eGolf Tour Florida's Citrus Open delivered his biggest pro win to date.
Jack Fields of Southern Pines, NC and Ethan Tracy of Columbus, OH tied for fourth at 2-under 286. Both players earned $4,925 for their efforts.
Fields, a winner at the 2012 Columbia Open, posted the day's only round in the 60s, finishing the week with a 3-under 69 to post 2-under overall. He and Roy (third-round 67) were the only two players to break 70 over the final 36 holes.
The Championship at St. James Plantation
The Reserve Club
Par 72; 7,212 yards
1. x-Kevin Roy, Tampa, FL, $15,000.00, *72-73-67-71-283 -5
2. Matthew Ryan, Santa Clarita, CA, $8,500.00, *69-70-73-71-283 -5
3. Vaita Guillaume, Papeete, Tahiti, $6,500.00, *69-71-74-70-284 -4
4. Jack Fields, Southern Pines, NC, $4,925.00, *76-69-72-69-286 -2
4. Ethan Tracy, Columbus, OH, $4,925.00, *74-71-71-70-286 -2
6. T.J. Howe, Osceola, PA, $4,050.00, *70-73-74-70-287 -1
6. Seamus Power, Ireland, $4,050.00, *71-64-76-76-287 -1
8. Travis Ross, Crookston, MN, $3,600.00, *74-70-71-74-289 +1
9. Brendan Gielow, Muskegon, MI, $3,300.00, *70-73-73-74-290 +2
10. Christian Brand, Charleston, WV, $2,700.00, *74-72-74-71-291 +3
10. David Erdy, London, OH, $2,700.00, *76-68-74-73-291 +3
10. Bruce Woodall, Yanceyville, NC, $2,700.00, *70-75-76-70-291 +3
10. Luke Hopkins, Greenville, SC, $2,700.00, *70-74-73-74-291 +3
14. Wesley Bryan, Chapin, SC, $2,050.00, *74-71-73-74-292 +4
14. Drew Weaver, Sea Island, GA, $2,050.00, *74-71-72-75-292 +4
14. Adam Stephenson, Greenville, NC, $2,050.00, *73-69-74-76-292 +4
14. Bobby MacWhinnie, Charlotte, NC, $2,050.00, *75-69-78-70-292 +4
18. Ted Brown, Richmond, VA, $1,775.00, *76-71-70-76-293 +5
18. Ryan Nelson, Charleston, SC, $1,775.00, *71-74-77-71-293 +5
20. Michael Miller, Brewster, NY, $1,675.00, *72-71-76-75-294 +6
20. Joshua Brock, Wilmington, NC, $1,675.00, *72-73-76-73-294 +6
22. Michael Davan, Hoopeston, IL, $1,550.00, *73-72-75-75-295 +7
22. Steven Fox, Hendersonville, TN, $1,550.00, *70-72-78-75-295 +7
22. David Watkins, Greenville, NC, $1,550.00, *75-69-77-74-295 +7
25. Reed Darsie, Chapel Hill, NC, $1,400.00, *73-69-75-79-296 +8
25. Ryan Zylstra, Glen Allen, VA, $1,400.00, *69-78-74-75-296 +8
25. Jurrian Van der Vaart, Netherlands, $1,400.00, *73-72-77-74-296 +8
28. Adam Hedges, Belmont, NC, $1,250.00, *77-68-76-78-299 +11
28. Jesse Hutchins, Kirkersville, OH, $1,250.00, *73-74-74-78-299 +11
28. Zach Edmondson, Morrisville, NC, $1,250.00, *74-73-77-75-299 +11
31. Joey McLister, Charlotte, NC, $1,162.50, *73-74-79-75-301 +13
31. Weston Eklund, Charlottesville, VA, $1,162.50, *73-74-80-74-301 +13
33. Mark Kriston, Clemmons, NC, $1,112.50, *75-71-80-76-302 +14
33. Bryce Ledford, Chattanooga, TN, $1,112.50, *75-72-79-76-302 +14
35. Jacob Eggers, Boone, NC, $1,070.00, *75-72-81-80-308 +20
35. Noah Ratner, Asheville, NC, $1,070.00, *74-73-82-79-308 +20
322 Shipyard Boulevard