ST. FRANCISVILLE — Jordan Russell stood on the ninth tee box during the final round of the Adams Pro Tour’s Merrill Lynch Open on Saturday with a three-shot lead. The par-5 hole had yielded a lot of birdies and some eagles during the week, and he was hoping to pad his advantage.
Then a horn sounded signaling lightning was in the area, and after a two-hour heavy rain delay, the final round of the tournament was canceled because the course was deemed unplayable and Russell was declared the winner with his 54-hole total.
The triumph was the first as a professional for the 27-year-old from College Station, Texas, who played collegiately at Texas A&M.
“I was playing really well today, I had a birdie on No. 5 and coming to No. 9, I wanted to take advantage of it,” Russell said after being presented the $25,000 winner’s check. “I was feeling really good at that point because I had played well all week.”
As a result of the canceled final round, Russell’s official score was 11-under-par 205, on shot ahead of playing partner Zach Cabra, who finished at 10-under and earned $13,000. Mark Walker, who lost in a playoff in last year’s Merrill Lynch Open, wound up third at 8-under and collected a $7,200 check.
Three golfers were tied at 6-under – Patrick Sullivan, Chris Ward and Devin Carrrey – and earned $4,756 while four more golfers were at 5-under and pocketed $2,933 apiece.
The victory also boosted Russell to the top of the Adams Pro Tour’s money standings with $33,690 and sets him up for the rest of the year. In addition to the winner’s check, Russell also collected a $500 bonus from Bushnell for using one of their range finders during the tournament that won’t go toward his official total.
“I’m going to take this next week off and spend some time with friends and practice, then hopefully this momentum will carry over,” said Russell, who plans on playing all but one of the remaining APT’s 10 tournaments this year. “I have qualifiers for the Byron Nelson Classic and the U.S. Open coming up, so I’m really looking forward to what’s ahead.”
This is the second year the tournament has been played at The Bluffs and the 27th year overall. Randy Haddad, Director of Development for Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center, said the event will net more than $100,000 and has collected nearly $2.5 million for MBPCC since its inception.