Shelton perseveres to win Nashville Golf Open


Shelton perseveres to win Nashville Golf Open

By CHIP CIRILLO

Robby Shelton’s day got off to an awful start, but he redeemed himself with a great ending.

His three-stroke, third-round lead disappeared when he bogeyed the first four holes, but Shelton rallied for his first career win on the Web.com Tour with a playoff victory over Scottie Scheffler at the Nashville Golf Open on Sunday.

Shelton birdied the playoff hole with an 9-foot putt to cap his comeback for his first win in 34 events during nearly three years on the tour.

“It feels amazing to finally get it done,” Shelton said. “It means so much to me. I’ve been grinding for two to three years now and it just hasn’t all been there and this week it was.”

Shelton trailed by four strokes with seven holes left, but he carded three birdies to force a playoff at the Nashville Golf and Athletic Club in Brentwood in the tournament benefitting the Snedeker Foundation.

The former Alabama All-American rallied with five birdies after a bad start to the final round.

It wasn’t the first time Shelton and Scheffler battled for a title during the final round.

“It was like the junior days,” Shelton said. “We probably played 10 times together coming down the stretch in junior golf and it was just like old times. And just to bury that putt on the last one was awesome.”

Shelton and Scheffler both finished 15-under-par at 273 after 72 holes on the 7,600-yard course.

Shelton shot a 1-under 71 and Scheffler went 8-under at 64 for the low round of the day with seven birdies, one eagle and one bogey.

Shelton lost in a playoff two weeks ago at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail Championship, but reversed his fortunes this time.

Scheffler has posted four straight top 10 finishes and Shelton had had three.

Things looked bad for Shelton after the first four holes.

“It wasn’t fun,” Shelton said. “To start off on the first hole and hit one in the water, but to save a bogey there was huge. But I didn’t feel like I was hitting it that bad — just some wayward shots here and there.”

Shelton said he knew he could grind and fight back. Once he got back to par for the round at 14, he felt like he was back in the hunt.

“The pins were tough today and I didn’t think anybody was going to go crazy, though,” Shelton said. “I know Scottie did. It was a sketchy round, for sure. I’m usually pretty steady and it was just very up and down.”

Shelton, the 2014 Southeastern Conference Player of the Year as a freshman when Alabama won the NCAA title, is poised to earn his 2020 PGA Tour card via the Web.com points standings.

“It’s been my dream since I was a little kid,” Shelton said. “I’ve been wanting it ever since I was 4 years old and had a golf club in my hand. It really hasn’t sunk in yet. It probably will on the ride home.”

He jumped out to the first-round lead before falling into a sixth-place tie at the halfway point.

Then he took the third-round lead, but needed a big comeback in the final round to force the playoff.

“I definitely had to regroup,” Shelton said. “I knew Brian (Campbell) was beating me, I knew a bunch of guys were, honestly, after I think it was the fourth hole. But I just kept my composure and I knew if I just made a few birdies coming in that I’d be fine.”

He hit a pitching wedge to within a foot of the cup on the sixth hole that started his comeback. It was nearly a hole in one.

His rough start included a shot into the trees on the right side of the second fairway, a shot into the hazard on his second shot on 3, and a three-putt on four.

“I really wanted it and I think it showed on the last couple of holes,” Shelton said. “I’ve finished second three or four times on this tour and I’ve top 10’d a few times. Just to finally get a W means a ton to me and it doesn’t happen very often.”

Henrik Norlander of Sweden took third with a 14-over 274.

Chase Seiffert and Chris Baker tied for fourth at 13-under 275.

Photo from Web.Com Tour.

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