DAVID LINGMERTH FINISHES WIRE-TO-WIRE VICTORY WITH BIRDIE ON 72ND HOLE OF NATIONWIDE CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL CHAMPIONSHIP
August 28, 2022 PGATOUR.COM
COLUMBUS, Ohio – David Lingmerth drained a 13-footer for birdie on the 72nd hole to win the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship, capping the first wire-to-wire victory on the Korn Ferry Tour since Cameron Young accomplished the same feat at the 2021 AdventHealth Championship. At the time, Lingmerth’s birdie nudged him one stroke ahead of playing partner Paul Haley II, who ultimately three-putted for bogey and finished at 15-under par.
Lingmerth played the first 36 holes of the week at a record-shattering clip, but followed Saturday’s even-par 71 with a 3-under 68 Sunday at the Ohio State University Golf Club’s Scarlet Course. Lingmerth’s winning total of 17-under 267 tied the 72-hole tournament scoring record established last year by Adam Svensson.
“It was a grind all day, not gonna lie,” Lingmerth said. “I was in good position the whole tournament, but I knew it was going to come down to the very last little bit because Paul (Haley II) was playing really well. To get that putt to go in for birdie on No. 18 was a feeling I've been wanting for a long, long time. So much relief, a lot of joy, a lot of pride I was able to do it, because it's been a rough go for a while for me.
“Not being sure if I was going to be able to knock one off anytime soon… it was nice to finally do it.”
Lingmerth began the day with a two-stroke lead over both his playing partners – Haley and Nick Hardy – and Zecheng Dou, who played just ahead of them in the penultimate group. By the turn, Haley pulled one stroke ahead with birdies at Nos. 3, 5, and 9, along with a hole-out eagle at the par-4 seventh. Lingmerth turned at 2-under par with birdies at Nos. 3 and 9.
Three significant swings ultimately determined the final outcome. Haley double bogeyed the par-4 11th, which Lingmerth followed with a birdie at the par-5 12th, giving him a two-stroke lead with six holes to play. The second swing came at the par-3 17th, where Lingmerth found the greenside bunker and could not save par, while Haley poured in a birdie putt from outside 20 feet, leaving the two deadlocked at 16-under par heading to the final hole.
Haley missed the 18th fairway well left, only leaving a shot to the front of the green and a lengthy putt to the back-right hole location. Lingmerth found his 42nd fairway of the week (he led the field in driving accuracy at 75 percent) and hit “a little 8-iron” into the wind from 154 yards to set up the winning putt.
“Being that I led the whole tournament, it would have stung probably a little bit more to have to give that lead up on the very last hole and lose by one or something,” Lingmerth said. “To be able to finish it off was, yeah, a lot of relief. Very satisfying feeling, for sure.”
Lingmerth entered the week without a top-10 across his last 117 starts on the PGA TOUR and Korn Ferry Tour. The Tranas, Sweden native’s last such finish was a T5 at the Quicken Loans National, which concluded July 2, 2017. Five years, one month, and 26 days ago. His last victory? Seven years, two months, and 21 days ago at the 2015 Memorial Tournament presented by Workday in nearby Dublin, Ohio, where he defeated Justin Rose in a playoff.
The fully exempt status from his victory expired in fall of 2018, forcing Lingmerth to play the TOUR with only conditional status for the last four seasons as he bounced between the PGA TOUR and Korn Ferry Tour. Lingmerth made 14 or fewer starts each of the last four seasons on TOUR, leaving him well outside the FedExCup Playoffs each year. This season, Lingmerth finished No. 193 on the 2021-22 FedExCup Eligibility Points List.
Injuries also piled up for Lingmerth, with a lower back issue being the toughest to overcome.
Not only did Lingmerth capture his first victory in seven years Sunday, he also solidified a place in The Finals 25, bumping him out of the conditional “past champions” category and allowing him to plan a schedule for the first time in more than four years.
“I was trying really hard not to focus on the PGA TOUR card aspect of things,” Lingmerth said. “I was trying to win the golf tournament but, with that being said, if I parred the last and Paul birdied it and I lost by one, I still would have been very happy with the week and the next year to come. To be able to knock a win off is a much, much better feeling. I'm very happy.
“It's a great feeling for me obviously not to have to live and die with last‑minute withdrawals or whatever on the PGA TOUR,” Lingmerth elaborated. “Am I going to get in? Am I not? What should I do, how should I prep? It's tough on me obviously, but it's tough on my family, too, not really knowing if I'm going to be home for a week or if I need to get out there, or if we all can plan a trip somewhere together for a tournament. Just to be able to nail the schedule down a little bit better is going to be very nice for all of us.”
And there is still more Lingmerth can achieve. Finishing atop The Finals 25 comes with two rewards: fully exempt status for the 2022-23 PGA TOUR season, meaning priority ranking reshuffles are of no concern, and an exemption into the 2023 PLAYERS Championship.
Lingmerth sits just 18 points behind Will Gordon, who won the first Finals event last week and finished T46 in Columbus.
Neither perk was on Lingmerth’s mind Sunday, though.
“I proved a lot of things to myself this week,” said Lingmerth, whose only other Korn Ferry Tour victory came at the 2012 Neediest Kids Championship. “I felt like I've made strides throughout this year and, especially this summer, I've played some pretty good golf but I never really got too much out of it. I feel like I was able to play a really good round here and then not really back it up too well. To be able to sit at that spot on the leaderboard all week and prove to myself that I can do it consistently, just a strong positive feeling right now that I was able to do it. Hopefully I can build on it.
“The best part hasn't come yet because I still haven't been able to call the family,” said Lingmerth, a proud husband and father of two. “I'm really looking forward to that.”
While Haley finished second, he earned enough points to pass Carl Yuan for the No. 1 spot on the season-long Korn Ferry Tour Eligibility Points List. The two are separated by less than 30 points with one event remaining. The winner of the season-long points race earns fully exempt status for the 2022-23 PGA TOUR season, a place in the field at the 2023 PLAYERS Championship and, for the first time in history, an exemption into the 2023 U.S. Open.
Any one of the top 16 players on the updated season-long Korn Ferry Tour Eligibility Points List could finish No. 1 with a victory in next week’s season finale.
The three-event Korn Ferry Tour Finals and 26-event 2022 Korn Ferry Tour season concludes with the Korn Ferry Tour Championship presented by United Leasing & Finance, which begins Thursday, September 1 and finishes Sunday, September 4.