PORT ST. LUCIE, Florida – Jason Caron didn’t play bogey-free golf on Thursday after doing so in round three. He didn’t score sub-30 on either nine as he did in the second round. Fortunately for Caron, neither was necessary.
The four-stroke cushion he built heading into the final round proved to be sufficient.
Caron (67-67-64-72, 270) shot an uncharacteristic even-par 72 in the final round on the Ryder Course, but held on for a two-stroke victory in the Stroke Play Championship at PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie, Florida. Rod Perry of Port Orange, Florida, finished runner-up at 272 after carding a final-round 2-under 70.
“I didn’t strike the ball great today but it was windy,” said Caron, the PGA Head Professional at River Mill Club in Oyster Bay, New York. “I’m happy overall. I didn’t even think about winning at the start of the week, to be honest. It’s cool standing here as the champion.”
Prior to his bogey on the Ryder’s par-3 7th, Caron hadn’t dropped a stroke in 30 consecutive holes, going back to his 12th hole during Tuesday’s second round. Caron tallied an impressive 24 birdies over the four rounds. After a disappointing four bogeys in Monday’s opening round, he made just four over the final three days.
“I knew the golf course better,” said Caron, whose last win came in 2012 at the Connecticut Open. “The first round I didn’t know where I was driving it at all. So I started to feel more comfortable and picked different lines the past couple rounds. I made a lot of really important putts.”
Playing with Caron in the final group, Perry struggled to put pressure on the leader until the final six holes. He began his round 1-over through 12 holes. Birdies on holes 13, 15 and 16 brought Perry to within one stroke heading to 17, but the gap proved to be insurmountable.
“I knew I had to make birdie,” said Perry, who is a two-time PGA Stroke Play Champion (2007 and ’15). “The 17th is a downwind right-to-left hole. Me being left-handed makes it a weaker wind for me and a strong wind for the right-handed guys. My second shot fell short of the greenside bunker and I had a tough lie. I chipped it past the hole and couldn’t make the long birdie putt.
“Jason played great all week. He didn’t have his best stuff today, but he kept his composure all day and got the win.”
Jeff Sorenson of Blaine, Minnesota, and Brett Melton of Washington, Indiana, tied for third at 273. Manhasset, New York’s Ben Polland (274) finished fifth.
Shawn Warren (275) of Cape Elizabeth, Maine, and Rob Corcoran (281) of Melbourne, Florida, shot the low score of the day with a 5-under 67 to finish sixth and tied for 12th, respectively.
Of the $42,000 total purse, Caron’s victory earned him $3,000.
“Hopefully I can carry this confidence into the [PGA Professional Championship],” said Caron. “I really want to play in the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow. I’ve played there before and it’s a special place.”