Heading into Saturday’s third-round of the Stadion Classic at UGA, Brendon Todd was asked how he rated himself as a “mudder.” That is golf terminology for a player who plays well in wet conditions.
“Pretty good,” Todd said. “I like conditions like this. Usually the tougher the weather the better I score.”
Todd proved that over the weekend. He carried the lead after 54-holes into Sunday’s final round of the $600,000 Web.com Tour event and, as it turned out, his score of 8-under-par-205 stood up. Because another 2½ inches of precipitation fell following the rain-soaked third round, the final round was canceled and Todd was declared the winner.
“Starting the third round we were all playing it as a one-day shootout,” said Todd, an Atlanta resident graduated from Georgia in 2007. “I was thinking it was possible we wouldn’t play the fourth round. So we played hard yesterday and it turned into a little dual between me and Tim (Wilkinson).”
New Zealand’s Tim Wilkinson finished one stroke behind in second place. That matched his career best, a T2 in the 2005 Oregon Classic, which also came in a tournament shortened to 54 holes due to inclement weather. That means Wilkinson’s two best chances to win came in rain-shortened events where he didn’t get a chance to hit a shot in the final round.
For Todd, the victory was his second on the Web.com Tour (he won the Utah Championship in 2008) and, including mini-tours and Q-school, the fifth of his professional career. This victory came with a winner’s check of $108,000 and elevates him to fourth from 37th on the tour money list.
Todd was called to the golf course a little after 11 a.m. Sunday morning. He and his wife Rachel were packing up their things at the home of their friend John Barrett, where they’ve stayed each of the five times he has played in this event. Todd was presented the trophy and check in a small ceremony under a tent alongside the E.B. Smith Clubhouse.
“Anytime you play hard and get the lead in a golf tournament and come out with the win, you’re going to be happy with it however it happens,” Todd said. “I was ready to play today, too. But after playing in all that water (Saturday) it didn’t seem feasible that we could go out and play a fair round (Sunday).”
The victory was valuable to Todd beyond the money he’ll bank. The top 25 players on the Web.com Tour at the end of the 21-tournament season receive conditional status on the PGA Tour and are entered in the $4 million, four-tournament postseason playoffs. Todd’s as good as in.
“That was definitely the biggest goal of the year,” Todd said. “I was setting out to win an event. We’ve accomplished that, so that frees me up to play my PGA Tour schedule this summer.”
Todd also becomes the third consecutive Georgia graduate to win this event. Todd succeeds Russell Henley (2011) and Hudson Swafford (2012) as champion.
“If anything it’s probably just good karma,” Georgia men’s golf coach Chris Haack said. “I think there’s familiarity but, as Brendon will probably tell you, you’ve still got to hit the shots. You’ve still got to do it. All these guys are good.”
Playing well in the muck is nothing new to Todd. When the Bulldogs won the 2005 national championship, Todd, then a sophomore, was the team’s low scorer (283) in a rain-marred tournament at Caves Valley Golf Club in Owings Mill, Md.
Essentially, Todd won this tournament on the 17th hole on Saturday. He and Wilkinson were tied at 7 under and came to the green with birdie chances. Todd made his putt from 18 feet while Wilkinson missed his from 12.
“When I made the birdie and Tim missed, I felt like the ball was sort of in my court,” Todd said. “It definitely gave me the boost I needed.”
As it turned out, Todd bogeyed his 54th hole, but so did Wilkinson. It was, as they say, a wash.
But not for Todd.
“This is sweet,” he said. “I really don’t care how I win.”