(Kevin Prise/PGA TOUR)
WICHITA, KS – Brady Schnell felt like this Wichita Open Supporting Wichita’s Youth was his tournament to win. The 33-year-old University of Nebraska graduate delivered with a birdie on the second hole of sudden death to beat PGA TOUR veterans Brandon Hagy and Scott Pinckney and earn his maiden Web.com Tour title.
“I finally broke through,” said Schnell, who won in his 100th career Tour start. “To do it in a playoff over two quality players and this field, especially with a birdie, it was a ton of fun.”
Schnell posted a flawless 66 in the final round to get into the playoff. The Spencer, Iowa native played mistake-free golf the last 36 holes at Crestview Country Club to end regulation knotted at 14-under-par 266 with Hagy and Pinckney. On the first extra hole, Pinckney was eliminated when Hagy and Schnell made birdie.
The duo headed back to play 18 again to decide a winner. With both players on the green in regulation, Hagy was up first. When his birdie bid slid by the hole, Schnell was left with a left-to-right 12-footer to win the tournament. Schnell knocked in the putt and threw his hat in the hair during the celebration on the home hole.
“It felt like it was my turn even though I’m battling two guys that have spent time on the PGA TOUR,” said Schnell. “I just felt good about the day and I think that translated into not being as nervous over shots and being result oriented. It was a good feeling. I look forward to playing more golf like that.”
Schnell was outstanding on the greens this week at Crestview CC, leading the field in putting. On the weekend, Schnell was a perfect eight-for-eight in scrambling. The back-to-back birdies during the playoff didn’t surprise the Mesa, Arizona resident, who picked up his first top-10 of the season a few weeks ago at the Rust-Oleum Championship.
“It was an odd sense of calm,” said Schnell, who became the first player this season to record 100 putts in a 72-hole event. “I felt about as good as you can feel on the greens this week. I was fairly calm on all three of my putts on 18. I guess that’s all you can ask for.”
“The putter is really good,” he continued. “It’s confidence and momentum out here. You see putts rolling on the line you want, and it can make things a lot more comforting. I have a feeling that’s what happens to most people when they win.”
Schnell admitted after his round that he plays his best golf in the middle of the season. Before his tie for sixth at the Ivanhoe Club, the eight-year pro was No. 90 on the money list. After collecting a first-place prize of $112,500, Schnell moved to No. 12 and one-step closer to securing his PGA TOUR card.
“This is the biggest tournament that I’ve won,” he said. “I’ve won some tournaments on PGA TOUR Latinoamérica that got me some great perks. I drew on that experience. I was probably more nervous winning the Argentina Open than this. I felt ready and I felt that experience down there helped a lot.”
Last year, Schnell competed on PGA TOUR Latinoamérica and won two of the four events he entered, including the 112 VISA Open de Argentina presentado por Macro, which earned him a spot in The Open Championship next month at Carnoustie Golf Links.
Before his victory on Sunday, Schnell was trying to figure out the best way to juggle his schedule. The goal was to get to Scotland early and get acclimated to the time change and conditions. The win in Wichita freed the father-of-one to be home for his son Harvey’s first birthday party as well as take the week before The Open off.
“You don’t want to take a week off out here to play in The Open, because you feel like you need to play every week,” he said. “It’s definitely going to make that one week a little easier.”
The Wichita Open has been around since the Web.com Tour’s inception in 1990. Tom Lehman, David Duval, David Toms and Jason Dufner have all won in Wichita and triumphed in a major championship. Schnell joins a long lineage of past champions that have excelled at the highest level, including Aaron Wise, who won the AT&T Byron Nelson earlier this year.
“It’s an awesome tournament,” he said. “To be on the list with those guys is pretty cool.”