Justin Lower wins Spring Hill Classic
Brad Schneider finishes second, one shot back
Tifton, Ga. – March 3, 2013 – As in life, professional golf is about overcoming obstacles and pursing dreams. And that was never more evident than in the final round of the NGA TOUR’s Spring Hill Classic on Sunday afternoon.
Former David Toms Award recipient Justin Lower of Canal Fulton, Ohio, carded a 2-under 69 in the final round of the $200,000 event and edged fellow David Toms Award winner Brad Schneider by a single stroke to claim his first NGA Pro Series win.
“It was pretty special to have me and Brad up there at the end with both of us being David Toms Award winners,” said Lower, whose father, Tim, and younger brother, Chris, lost their lives in a car accident in 2005. “I played with him in the third round and we were able to share some words after the round. It really gives you hope that persistence pays off.”
After an inauspicious start, Lower would need to lean on that tenacity in the final round to move atop the cluttered leaderboard by day’s end.
The 2011 David Toms Award winner, presented by the Golf Coaches Association of America and the David Toms Foundation to a men’s golfer who has overcome adversity to achieve collegiate excellence, started the final round tied for fourth and found himself going the wrong way to start the day after he bogeyed two of the first five holes. However, Lower bounced back with birdies on Nos. 6 and 9 to creep back into contention.
“The bad start didn’t affect me much today, because I didn’t get off to a good start in any round this week,” said Lower, who finished with rounds of 71-68-68-69 and earned $28,000 for the victory. “I told myself I was playing well and the shots would start falling. I had a good birdie on six, missed a five-footer for birdie on No. 8 and birdied No. 9. After that, I knew I was in contention.”
“I did my best not to look at the leaderboard walking from the ninth hole to the 10th,” said Lower, a 2011 All-Nicklaus selection at Malone University. “When I first came out here, it was easy to get caught up in the all names on that leaderboard. I tried to focus on the next shot and not worry about what everyone else was doing.”
After posting six pars in row on the backside, Lower made back-to-back birdies on Nos. 16 and 17 to take the outright lead at 8-under par, one shot clear of clubhouse leader Schneider. Lower recorded a par on the final round of regulation to finish with a 276 total and earn a breakout victory.
“It’s special to win on the NGA TOUR,” said Lower. “You see guys like Keegan Bradley, Michael Thompson and Ted Potter Jr. playing on TV, and they were winning out here just a couple of years ago. It gives me hope for my future. If I can continue my process, I feel like I can be on the PGA TOUR one day.”
With the victory, Lower may get a chance to play on the PGA TOUR this season, if he can continue his stellar play. The leading member money winner on the NGA TOUR at midseason will receive an event exemption into the PGA TOUR’s Reno-Tahoe Open.
“Everyone out here wants to be on the PGA TOUR,” said Lower. “Getting this win makes it a reachable goal for me, and I’m going to work my tail off trying to get that exemption.”
Despite coming up one shot shy of Lower, Schneider, of Valrico, Fla., also showed plenty of intestinal fortitude in the Spring Hill Classic. The former University of Central Florida standout, who won the 2012 David Toms Award for overcoming multiple surgeries and compartment syndrome after breaking his leg in 2006, posted rounds of 71-66-71-69 to finish with a 7-under 277 total. Schneider claimed his first podium finish on the NGA TOUR in just his third start on the Pro Series.
Bo Hoag (73) and Nick Rousey (73) were also part of the lead battle much of the final round on Sunday.
Rousey, a 2013 Web.com Tour member and former University of Alabama standout, spent much of the day tied for the lead at 7-under par, but a late bogey dropped the Pensacola, Fla., golfer into a tie for third at 6-under par.
Hoag, a former Ohio State standout from Columbus, Ohio, had a chance to force a playoff on the final hole of regulation, but his birdie try raced by the hole and his comeback putt didn’t fall, leaving him tied for third.
Marc-Etienne Bussieres of Quebec, Canada, also finished tied for third in the Spring Hill Classic. The former Golf Quebec Golfer of the Year cared a 1-under 70 on Sunday to join Hoag and Rousey at 6-under par.
Trent Whitekiller (66), Peter Malnati (71) and third-round leader Brian Maurer (75) finished tied for sixth at 5-under par, while Seth Fair (69), Patton Kizzire (69), Clayton Rask (70), James Vargas (70), Will McCurdy (71), Erik Barnes (73) and Hernan Piri Borja (73) finished T9 at 4-under par.
The NGA TOUR would like to thank everyone at Spring Hill Country Club for an amazing inaugural event. The Pro Series will return to action on March 11 with the playing of the Kandy Waters Memorial Classic in North Augusta, S.C.
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