Rowell leaves no doubt at Adams Tour's Victoria Open
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Brittany Rowell stopped and looked and her phone, hastily tapped out a quick message, then looked up.
The action in front of her was starting to pick up. Her husband of almost a year, Brian, had just dropped another putt. This time on the 13th hole.
She let out a sigh of relief, and tapped out another message to a friend back home in Lafayette.
"It was stressful," she said. "I was always asking the score guy which hole we were on and what the par was for the hole.
"I was texting all of our friends at home. That was my job today."
As Brian Rowell confidently walked the course at Victoria Country Club on Saturday, his wife fidgeted in the scorer's cart, watching every stroke.
"I'm always nervous, every putt and every hole," she said.
Brittany Rowell didn't have much reason to worry on Saturday, as her husband locked up the top spot at the 18th Victoria Open with a 4-under 67, finishing with a five-stroke lead on second place, former Lamar University golfer Hugues Joannes.
It was the low score of the tournament, stealing away any hope the rest of the field had of catching the Adams Tour veteran.
As Rowell walked the final holes, his wife continued to squirm. As he prepared to putt on the 17th green, Brittany got up from the cart, grabbed an umbrella and watched. She couldn't sit any more.
After his par putt dropped, she shot off another text message.
The tournament was getting so close, Rowell could taste it. But as he lined up his shot on the 18th fairway, something crept into his mind that hadn't been there all day, or for much of the tournament: Doubt.
"If there's one thing that's certain about golf, it's that nothing is certain," he said.
Thoughts of disaster appeared as he looked at the pool of water near the green. Visions of Kyle Stanley - whose triple bogey a month ago at the Farmers Insurance Open in San Diego cost him the tournament - wouldn't leave him.
"I don't know why I was thinking about it," he said. "It may have been because of the water. I was like, 'Wouldn't it be something ...'"
He shook off the bad thoughts, and chipped onto the green. Two putts later, he made par and the event was his.
Rowell entered Saturday with a good idea of what he had to do. He then proceeded to do it.
He was 3-under for the day after nine, and after a birdie putt on the 13th green dropped, he figured that was it.
"That was really the tee ball that could cost me," "I hit a really good chip from the left of the hole. I got a good idea there that if I played solid, the tournament was mine."
He has four wins in his professional career, including one in 2006 in a playoff over current PGA star Bubba Watson in a playoff in Beaumont, but this one almost never was.
Rowell hadn't played in a tournament since PGA qualifier school last year. His knee flared up with tendonitis. What followed was a forced time off from the game.
"It was all rest," he said. "There was a lot of ice, and two months off, but I ended up taking three months. Those first few weeks back were a little rough."
The Victoria Open was his first tournament back since the injury. And not everything was working for him on the course, either.
"I wasn't feeling my swing today, but I made so many good putts," Rowell said. "I didn't hit any terrible shots, which is what can kill you when you have a big lead."
• A big part of Rowell's ability to staying on tour is with the help of sponsors Dane and Cara Escott, who he said have helped him keep playing and pursuing his goal. "He's been a little down on his health," he said. "This victory, even though it's a mini-tour event, is for him."
• The tournament's final round was delayed Saturday by two hours because of major storms the night before. Players didn't tee off until between 10 and 11 a.m. Fortunately, all but the leaders were off the course by the time the rain kicked up again at about 2 p.m.
• Victoria's Cory Manning struggled again Saturday, following his third round 79 with a 77 on Saturday. He finished in 26th place, and won a total of $880 in prize money. Blessing's Brad Besler finished in 16th place with an overall tournament score of 8-over; he shot a 2-over 73 on Saturday. He earned $1,205 in prize money.
• Other notable scores: Former Texas A&M golfer Bronson Burgoon, one of a quartet of players who entered the day tied for second at even par, struggled on the final day with a 4-over 75. The score dropped him back to a tie for ninth with a four-day score of 4-over. ... Former PGA tour pro Craig Kanada finished the event with a final round score of 1-over, putting him at 9-over for the event. ... Former TCU golfer Scott Roudebush finished in the group tied for ninth at 4-over. ... PGA pro John Kimbell came on strong after a bad opening round, shooting a round of 1-over on Saturday. He wrapped up the event with a score of 7-over and in 13th place.
INVISTA-kci Victoria Open
Victoria Country Club
Par: 71, Yardage: 6856
1 Brian Rowell Lafayette, LA 73-68-70-67--278 -6 $9,930.00
2 Hugues Joannes Beaumont, TX 69-72-73-69--283 -1 $5,465.00
3 Shawn Jasper Marthasville, MO 74-68-71-71--284 E $4,205.00
T4 Matthew Vela San Antonio, TX 73-70-74-68--285 +1 $2,920.00
T4 Andrew Landry Beaumont, TX 74-71-70-70--285 +1 $2,920.00
T4 Zack Fischer Wake Village, TX 68-75-71-71--285 +1 $2,920.00
T4 Charleton Dechert Pineville, LA 73-69-71-72--285 +1 $2,920.00
8 Bobby Massa Grand Prairie, TX 75-72-69-70--286 +2 $2,075.00
T9 Dustin Morris Crosby,TX 76-73-69-70--288 +4 $1,628.75
T9 Scott Roudebush Dallas, TX 73-73-74-68--288 +4 $1,628.75
T9 Chris Brown Garland, TX 74-72-71-71--288 +4 $1,628.75
T9 Bronson Burgoon The Woodlands, TX 72-72-69-75--288 +4 $1,628.75
T13 John Kimbell San Antonio, TX 78-70-71-72--291 +7 $1,291.67
T13 Chase Cooper Guymon, OK 75-72-74-70--291 +7 $1,291.67
T13 Bobby Hutcherson Memphis, TX 75-72-69-75--291 +7 $1,291.67
16 Brad Besler Blessing, TX 74-74-71-73--292 +8 $1,205.00
T17 Devin Carrey South Surrey, BC 76-72-73-72--293 +9 $1,152.50
T17 Craig Kanada The Woodlands, TX 75-73-73-72--293 +9 $1,152.50
T19 Michael Drake Fontana, CA 73-73-73-75--294 +10 $1,082.50
T19 Praneeth Perera Carrollton, TX 73-74-71-76--294 +10 $1,082.50
21 Phillip Hui San Antonio, TX 74-72-73-76--295 +11 $1,030.00
T22 Ezequiel Reyna Weslaco, TX 76-70-76-74--296 +12 $985.00
T22 Cameron Bishop Tulsa, OK 76-73-75-72--296 +12 $985.00
T24 Jared Vela Pasadena, TX 72-75-78-74--299 +15 $925.00
T24 Will Osborne Wichita Falls, TX 71-78-76-74--299 +15 $925.00
26 Cory Manning Victoria, TX 75-72-79-77--303 +19 $880.00
27 Michael Campbell Pineville, LA 71-71-79-87--308 +24 $850.00