Andrew Svoboda poses with his trophy after winning the Web.com Tour Chiquita Classic Sept. 8 at River Run Country Club in Davidson. (Aaron Burns/Herald Weekly photo)
DAVIDSON – Andrew Svoboda made his second chance count on Sunday.
Svoboda parred the 18th hole in a one-hole playoff against Will MacKenzie to win the Chiquita Classic at River Run Country Club after he lost a three-shot lead with two holes to play.
The win was Svoboda's second Web.com Tour victory of the year. Ahead by three shots, Svoboda bogeyed the 17th hole, then watched MacKenzie eagle the 18th to force a tie.
Svoboda came up well short on his eagle chip on the tournament's 72nd hole, then missed a birdie putt which led to the playoff.
After a poor second shot from the rough, MacKenzie nearly holed out a birdie chip from the rough behind the hole in the playoff.
The ball hit the pin and rolled five feet past it on his chip. He missed his par putt after Svoboda tapped in for par.
"I hadn't been able to read the greens all week. I just said, 'Give it a good go,'" MacKenzie said. "I'm happy with the week. I hate losing in a playoff. I was ready for that playoff. I just didn't execute."
Svoboda's triumph in Davidson's first professional golf tournament came with a $180,000 payoff, a locked-in spot on the PGA Tour next season and a chance to win the inaugural Web.com Tour Finals.
He was inches short of making a 15-foot birdie putt in the playoff. The winning tap-in, however, was more than enough for Svoboda.
"(It was) just a huge win with a strong field," he said. "It's nice to have won twice so I have an exemption (on the Web.com Tour) in case I struggle on the (PGA) Tour."
Ben Martin and John Peterson – who finished fourth in the 2012 U.S. Open – wound up tied for third at 11 under par.
Japanese phenom Ryo Ishikawa, a 21-year-old PGA Tour regular, finished fifth at 10 under.
Ishikawa complimented River Run's difficult course, which he said kept him guessing at different points in the week.
"The back nine was my key point," Ishikawa said. "The rough is so thick it's tough to get on the green. I'm still happy. That was huge for me and for my next year. I really want to play in the PGA Tour next year. It's been a tough season for me. I'm just trying to get into the top 25 (to get a PGA Tour card)."
Svoboda will have no such concerns, after four rounds of golf where a first-round 72 proved to be his worst result.
"We had nothing to lose," he said. "Still, there was some pressure, because we wanted to get a good position for next year (in tournament priorities). It was important to us to play well in these events."
Trevor Immelman, the 2008 Masters winner who won the first Finals event, missed the cut by a stroke. Like Ishikawa, he said River Run's course presented a tough challenge – one the winner, who turned out to be Svoboda, had to overcome.
"It's hard. It's a tricky golf course," Immelman said. "The greens are pure surface."
No one knew that better than Svoboda.
"It's a tough golf course," he said. "I shot 12 under par. That's pretty solid golf."