ELLIE MAE CLASSIC FINAL ROUND: Piller uses late surge to capture victory

August 6, 2017

PGA Golf

montgomeryadvertiser.com photo file: Ellie Mae Classic/Web.com 2017 winner Martin Piller take the trophy at TPC Stonebrae in Hayward on Sunday

By Jeremy Harness

HAYWARD, Calif. – Martin Piller and Brandon Harkins went toe-to-toe for 18 holes on Sunday, and in a tournament that sees plenty of birdies, it was one that made all the difference.

Piller made birdie on the 10th hole while Harkins settled for a par, and from that point, both birdied the 14th and 16th holes, and when Harkins could not make birdie on either of the final two holes, Piller captured the Ellie Mae Classic, his fourth win on the Web.com Tour.

With the victory, he is also expected to be among the top 25 on the Web.com Tour’s money list, as he is projected to jump 81 spots into the 24th position. Meanwhile, Harkins is also projected to be on that list, known on this tour as “The 25.” He is expected to assume the 21st spot while jumping 43 spots to do so.

The leader at the start of the day was Andrew Yun, but the Stanford alum lost ground – and the lead – on the front nine, making a bogey on the very first hole and dropping another shot at the par-4 eighth. After another bogey at the 11th, he bounced back and finished his final round at even-par to finish in a tie for third.

Meanwhile, Piller and Harkins both took advantage, as they both overtook Yun and tied for the lead at the turn with matching scores of 15-under for the tournament.

Harkins did not have a single bogey on his card and ran off birdies at both the par-5 third as well as the par-4 fifth to go two-under on the front nine. To get into the top spot, Piller, whose wife, Gerina Piller, plays on the LPGA Tour, made back-to-back birdies at the second and third and gained another shot at the par-3 sixth and, like Harkins, had an unblemished scorecard.

Piller took the outright lead at the par-4 10th with a birdie while Harkins was forced to settle for a par. The lead would not change hands again.

Harkins quickly had company in the second position. Vince Covello played his way into the mix, blitzing the back nine by playing that side six-under en route to an eye-popping 62 to tie Harkins at 3:30pm PST.

Covello ended up in a tie with Yun at 15-under and stood a chance to win, as he was only one stroke behind Piller when he finished. However, his disadvantage was that he had finished his round while Piller and Harkins still had much of their back nines left to play.

Another guy who made a big charge on Sunday was Michael Weaver, a Cal alum who is nowhere near the top 25 (he began this week ranked 243rd in that category). He didn’t play like it, however, as he fired a six-under 64 to launch himself into a three-way tie for fourth.

He did not record a bogey in the final round and spread his birdies evenly, picking up three shots on the front nine and three more on the back.

There are three more events in the Web.com Tour’s regular season before the playoffs begin. Even though the top 25 players on the money list at the end of the regular season get their PGA Tour cards for next season, the top 25 players after the playoffs also get in, meaning that 50 players will get their cards for the 2017-18 campaign.

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