Garrigus clinches maiden victory

Robert Garrigus fired a flawless final round of 64 to win the Children’s Miracle Network Classic and retain his PGA Tour card.

Robert Garrigus fired a flawless final round of 64 to win the Children’s Miracle Network Classic by three strokes at the Disney World Resort.

In what was the final event of the 2011 PGA Tour season, Garrigus overturned the four-shot overnight lead of Roland Thatcher to ultimately triumph in convincing fashion.

The victory served as redemption for the 33-year-old who memorably blew the St Jude Classic back in June when he squandered a three-shot advantage going down the final hole before losing in a play-off.

There were no such meltdown this time from Garrigus when in contention, the big-hitting American not dropping a single shot during his eight-under-par final round to finish clear of the field on 21-under-par as he clinched a maiden PGA Tour title.

“It feels so good to finish this off,” Garrigus said afterwards. “I said I wasn’t going to finish it off the same way as last time.

“It’s unbelievable. It’s great to know I will still be fine regardless of what happens out here.”

Despite blowing a big lead and finishing second, there was ample consolation for Thatcher (72) in the fact his performance was good enough to secure his playing card for next season.

Starting the week 179th on the money-list, the 33-year-old knew he would either have to win the event or finish in second on his own to finish in the top 125 and retain his playing privileges.

Coming down the stretch nerves appeared to have got the better of Thatcher with bogeys at 12 and 16 derailing his hopes of winning.

But things looked even bleaker for him at 17 when playing partner Spencer Levin holed a 50-foot birdie putt and he then missed an eight-footer for par which meant the duo were tied together for second at 18-under.

Had they stayed locked together Thatcher would have been facing up to a trip to qualifying school but, after Levin three-putted for bogey, he rolled home a nerve-wracking five-foot par putt on the final green to reclaim sole possession of second and keep hold of his card.

“You will never see a happier guy who just vomited away a tournament than I am right now,” Thatcher declared.

“I’ve got nothing but happiness for not having to go through ‘q-school’ and being fully exempt on tour for next year.”

Levin (68) subsequently had to settle for a share of third alongside Johnson Wagner (67) and Rickie Fowler.

But while there was joy for Thatcher, Wagner was one of those to suffer as he narrowly slipped outside the top 125 along with Briny Baird.