Chacarra Breaks Through at LIV Bangkok
Spain’s Eugenio Lopez-Chacarra held off 2018 Masters Champion Patrick Reed to win his first professional event at the LIV Golf Invitational in Bangkok by three strokes, and collected $4.75 million in the process.
The 22-year-old shot a 3-under 69 in the third and final round of the event to finish at -19 on the week to become the new tour’s sixth winner in as many starts and collect the $4 million in individual prize money to the winner. Chacarra also helped his team the Fireballs to their first victory, earning him $750,000 more for his share of the $3 million team prize.
Chacarra slept on a five-stroke lead overnight, but it was down to one after only five holes when he made his first two bogeys of the week on holes #4 and #5, while Reed birdied his first two holes of the day. But Chacarra steadied the ship, making a bounce-back birdie on the sixth hole, and holing several long putts to avoid any more bogeys for the rest of his round.
For his part, Reed uncharacteristically missed several short putts. They included three-for par on the par-4 ninth hole after reaching the green in regulation that dropped him back to 13-under. Just moments later, Chacarra drained a 10-footer on the same hole to save par and maintain his newly-extended three-stroke lead. On the day, Reed totaled 30 putts to Chacarra’s 27, which proved to be the difference in the tournament.
Paul Casey, Richard Bland, and Sihwan Kim rounded out the top five in a tie for third place at 15-under, and each pocketed $1.175 million. Bland could’ve added more than $600,000 to his total, but he missed a 3-footer on the 18th hole that would’ve placed him in a tie for second with Reed.
On the team side, Chacarra’s Fireballs, captained by Sergio Garcia snagged its first win of the season shooting a combined 45-under for the week, after two prior third-place podium appearances, in Portland and Bedminster. Chacarra’s 69 was better by both Sergio Garcia and Abraham Ancer, who both shot 68 on Sunday, and finished tied for 20th and 10th respectively. The final member of the Fireballs, Carlos Ortiz, shot a 70, but finished tied for 15th individually and earning $233,600 in addition to his $750,000 share of the team win.
Dustin Johnson did not contend this week, but he did enough to join the group tied for 15th. More importantly to his checkbook, he clinched the individual point championship in LIV’s inaugural season. Johnson holds a 42-point lead over second place Branden Grace with just one event—next week’s tilt in Jeddah—remaining on the schedule, and only 40 points available to the winner. So add that $18 million bonus to DJ’s checkbook, in addition to the $12.8 million he’s already earned in individual and team prize money, and he’s over $30 million earned with two events still left to pad that total.
The team he captains, the 4 Aces, did not finish among the top three teams in Bangkok, after winning the prior four events. In their place, the Crushers (-38), captained by Bryson Dechambeau finished second, and the Martin Kaymer led Cleeks GC took home the third place prize at 37-under. Those four-man teams split $1.5 million and $500,000 respectively.
Six-time major winner Phil Mickelson had his best week on the new LIV circuit, shooting 3-under 69 in each of his three rounds to finish T15 at -9 and collect $233,600.
Chacarra had a sizable gallery on hand to see him claim his first victory as a professional, after skipping his senior year at Oklahoma State and joining the LIV circuit before its second event in Portland. In addition to his team including his coach and caddie, Chacarra’s cousin, best friend, and mother were all in Thailand to see him clinch the win.
“My mom has been getting me to the course since I was little and tried to help me reach my dreams,” he said following the round. “This was one of the things I wanted to do, win with my mom.”
The round was interrupted by a more than 90-minute delay due to an electric storm and downpour with most of the field having just three holes left to play.
The individual play finale for LIV’s first season will be held next week in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. A team championship will be held in Miami from October 28-30.
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