Scott Brown earned his first PGA Tour victory at the Puerto Rico Open with a one-shot win over Argentina’s Fabian Gomez and 19-year-old Jordan Speith at Trump International Golf Club. Brown set the Puerto Rico Open scoring record with a score of 20-under 268.

Down by one shot to Gomez on the par-5 No. 18, Brown had to flight a 3-iron below overhanging palms to get his ball just short of the green. Gomez, in perfect position off the tee, mishit his second shot and his ball ran through a bunker and into the rough short and left of the green. Gomez then attempted to flop the ball onto the green, but caught more of the ball than he anticipated and his ball sailed over the green into another bunker. When his 15-foot par putt fell low left, all he could do was watch as Brown finished off his four-foot birdie putt for the win.

It was Brown’s hot putter that kept him atop the leaderboard. After a par at No. 1, Brown dropped a 50-foot eagle putt at the par-5 No. 2. With a three-shot lead after his first five holes, Brown appeared to be in total control. But after bogeys at Nos. 8, 9 and 11, he found himself trailing Gomez and Speith by a shot. That’s when Brown’s putter struck again and he pulled back into a tie for the lead with a 30-foot birdie putt on No. 12. Brown then dropped another 15-foot par-saving putt on No. 14 to stay tied for the lead, and help him to hang around long enough to set up the drama on No. 18.

Former U.S. Amateur champion Peter Uihlein shot a final round 67 with an eagle at No. 18 and tied for sixth place, earning him a spot in next week’s Tampa Bay Championship. Speith will also be in the field next week after his top 10 finish.

Playing on conditional status after finishing 148th on the money list in 2012, Brown made the most of his opportunity in Puerto Rico. For his victory, Brown earns $630,000 along with 300 FedEx Cup points, a two-year Tour exemption, an invite to the 2013 Players Championship and the 2014 Hyundai Tournament of Champions, and a spot in the PGA Championship in August. He will also spend the rest of the season playing on the Tour rather than the Tour.

Brown is the fourth first-time winner on Tour this year, following Russell Henley (Sony Open), John Merrick (Northern Trust) and Michael Thompson (Honda Classic). Brown’s win also continues the United States’ dominance on the Tour so far this season. With Tiger Woods winning the WGC-Cadillac Championship, an American has won every Tour event thus far in 2013.

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Grant Shafranski is the Program Director for the First Tee of Minneapolis and Head Teaching Professional at Hiawatha Golf Club in Minneapolis, MN. He is a Level 2 PGA Apprentice following a successful amateur career where he played collegiately at Division III University of St. Thomas (St. Paul, MN).


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