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HomeSportsGolfPGA News: Nico Echavarria shines in Puerto Rico for first career win

PGA News: Nico Echavarria shines in Puerto Rico for first career win

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Nico Echavarria fired a 4-under 68 on Sunday and claimed his first career PGA Tour victory as he prevailed at the Puerto Rico Open by two shots over Akshay Bhatia.

Echavarria shot 21-under 267 over the four rounds at Grand Reserve Golf Club in Rio Grande. The 28-year-old rookie shot 67s in each of the first two rounds and a 65 in the third during an impressive showing.

The Colombian had missed the cut in eight of 10 tour events entering the tournament, including the last four.

“With the way I was playing the last couple weeks, at Honda, that course is really hard but I missed the cut by 8 or 9,” Echavarria said. “At Pebble (Beach) I missed it by a lot.

“You just don’t think it’s going to get better until things like this week clicks and finding something on the range on Friday just changes your week. … If I wouldn’t have had that practice session on Friday afternoon very late and found what I found, I don’t think I would be here because it cleared my mind up.”

Echavarria tinkered with his tempo and the adjustments clearly worked. He had six birdies and two bogeys in the final round, including three birdies in a five-hole stretch on the back nine.

The victory earned Echavarria a spot in this week’s Players Championship in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., near where he now resides.

Bhatia (65 on Sunday) didn’t have a chance at catching Echavarria, but his torrid finishing kick of four consecutive birdies allowed him to overtake Nate Lashley (69) and Carson Young (71), who tied for third at 16 under.

Bhatia bogeyed the first hole and then was flawless the rest of the way. Six of his eight birdies came on the back nine and his strong finish left him beaming.

“When you’re playing good you don’t realize it,” Bhatia said. “I had no idea I shot 7 under today, I had no idea I shot 30 on the back. So that’s what’s fun about golf, you get in these zones of just hitting shots, playing one hole at a time, as cliche as it is.”

Young shot 71 for the second straight round after a 63-67 opening stretch. He had two birdies and one bogey on Sunday.

“I knew this had the opportunity to be a good finish for me and turned out being that way,” Young said. “I’m a little disappointed I couldn’t get it done obviously, but a good tournament and you’ve just got to stay positive.”

Lashley had five birdies — three over the last five holes — and two bogeys.

Michael Kim finished fifth at 15-under 273 after posting his second 66 of the week. He eagled the par-5 second hole and had six birdies and two bogeys.

–Field Level Media

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