Dante Caldera stayed focused on his own play Sunday morning at the BREC Players Championship, and it paid dividends as he won the tournament with a 4-under par 68.
Caldera began the round five shots behind first-round leader Michael Boone, but his four-birdie, no-bogey finish was enough to overcome the deficit and claim first place.
“It was a pretty good field. It’s the top 40 golfers from this season so its an honor to win the tournament,” said Caldera, who shot even-par 72 on Saturday.
Jeremy Gautreaux had a 10-foot birdie putt at 18 to tie Caldera but missed. Gautreaux finished alone in second place at 3-under.
Defending champion Blaine Patin and Gayle Sanchez tied for third place at 2-under. Both golfers shot their second consecutive 71 on Sunday.
Todd Elkins carded a 69 to finish fifth at 1-under. No other golfers finished under par.
For Caldera, the win also clinched first place in the final BREC player of the year standings. The 24-year-old golfer played consistently throughout a season that had previously been highlighted by a win at the City Park Championship.
After Caldera, the closest challengers for player of the year were Scott Wilfong, Danny Nelson and Luke Gower.
“Today, I feel better about winning the tournament,” said Caldera, who held the lead in the POY standings entering the Players Championship.
“I felt like I would win player of the year if I just played my game so I got more satisfaction out of winning the tournament.”
Winning the tournament wasn’t a given when the second round began. Michael Boone held the lead at 5-under, but a bad break and then a bad swing proved to be his undoing.
Boone reached the ninth tee at 1-under on the day, 6-under overall, but pushed his tee shot right toward out of bounds markers. The ball didn’t appear to have enough carry to make it past the markers, but it hit the cart path before finishing a foot out of play.
Boone, who had hit a provisional tee shot in the fairway, then shanked an iron out of bounds. He hit the green with his next shot and two-putted for an eight.
“I was scrambling okay,” Boone said of his play on the front nine. “I didn’t hit the tee shot (at 9) that bad. I just happened to push it a little bit, and it hit the cart path.”
Boone admitted to being nervous on the first hole, but after chipping to the green and sinking 15-foot par putt he settled down. He went on to make two birdies, and his only blemish before nine was a three-putt bogey from 50 feet at the fourth.
Gautreaux had problems of his own in the early going as he fought his swing, which was pushing shots right. He lost two balls in the hazard at the par-5second and took double bogey.
Gautreaux made birdie at six, and made the turn at 1-over for the day, 1-under overall.
“I hit it sideways on the front,” Gautreaux said. “I think I got up and down six times. I kind of righted the ship on the back nine. I made five birdies on the last 13 holes. I fought back hard.”
One of those birdies came at 17 to bring him to 3-under.
overall. He wasn’t sure how other golfers had finished, but felt he needed to make birdie at 18.
“I asked somebody on 18 (where I stood),” Gautreaux said. “I knew I had to make that putt. I just had a feeling. It was about 10 feet, but it didn’t go in.”
The miss left Gautreaux in second place, but not remorseful.
“I don’t feel bad,” he said. “I wasn’t qualified to play originally, but a few people dropped out and I was able to get in.”