Rookie Jonas Blixt wins Frys.com Open by a stroke
Jonas Blixt is a frustrated hockey player turned golfer. He's also a winner in his first season on the PGA Tour.
"I was more interested in hockey. I wanted to be a hockey player," the Swede said Sunday after his breakthrough victory in the Frys.com Open. "I never really got big enough or good enough to play. Golf kind of suited me pretty well."
Blixt was a defenseman and played hockey well into his teens.
"It's the greatest sport ever," he said. "The lockout just kills me."
The third PGA Tour rookie to win this season, Blixt holed a 4-foot par putt on the final hole for a 3-under 68 and a one-stroke victory in the Fall Series event at CordeValle. He earned $900,000 and a tour exemption through the 2014 season.
"The weird part is I've been working on some stuff with my swing, and I wasn't feeling completely 100 percent about my swing," Blixt said. "I just told myself, `Just give it a good hit every time and see what happens. Just focus. You can't do anything better than your best.' That's what I did on every shot."
He finished at 16-under 268.
Tim Petrovic and Jason Kokrak tied for second. Petrovic had a 64, and Kokrak shot a 68.
Third-round leader John Mallinger had a 72 to tie for fourth at 14 under with Jimmy Walker, Vijay Singh and Alexandre Rocha. Walker closed with a 62, and Singh and Rocha shot 68.
Blixt made a 9-foot birdie putt on the par-5 15th for a share of the lead, and holed a 7 1/2-footer on the short par-4 17th to pull ahead. He set up the birdie on 17 with an approach shot from the rough.
"It was a bad lie, but the ball came out well," Blixt said.
Two strokes behind Mallinger entering the round, Blixt birdied the first two holes, but gave back the strokes with bogeys on the next two. The 28-year-old former Florida State player made a birdie on the par-4 sixth, then had eight straight pars before the birdie on 15.
Blixt was making his 19th PGA Tour start. He finished third last week in Las Vegas.
"You learn something every time," Blixt said. "Last week I didn't play very well in the final round. I got a little too cute with some shots and wasn't aggressive enough."
The only other rookie winners this year are John Huh in the Mayakoba Golf Classic in February and Ted Potter Jr. in The Greenbrier Classic in July.
"First of all, my family is here, so it's been really relaxed," Blixt said. "I've barely touched a golf club after a round, which is really weird for me. A lot of people would say that's really weird."
Petrovic eagled the par-5 ninth hole, hitting a 2-iron to 2 1/2 feet to take the lead.
"I think we were about 240 (yards) into the wind," Petrovic said. "Hit into the bank and bounced right up there. Almost went in."
He walked off the course with a one-stroke lead over Mallinger and Blixt, who each had five holes to play.
"I played today like I was going to have to Monday qualify next week, and I played it like the Monday qualifier," Petrovic said. "That was kind of my mindset when I started today. I was going to play like a one-day shootout. Throughout my career I've always done well in the Monday qualifiers, I guess because I just kind of dial in, focus. I tried to have that mentality today."
Kokrak eagled the 17th hole and closed with a par. He earned $440,000 to jump from 167th to 117th on the money list. The final top 125 will earn full 2013 cards.
"It's just nice to play well this week," Kokrak said. "It gives me confidence going into the rest of the year."
Petrovic also made $440,000 to go from 200th to 132nd.
Walker matched the course record with his 62.
"I just kept hitting shots and making some putts," Walker said. "I just kept the pedal down."