Andrew Medley has completed his transformation this summer from college reserve to Hooters Tour champion.
Medley, who was pulled from the Auburn University starting lineup this spring because of poor play, won the $206,000 Michelob Ultra Classic on Sunday at River Hills Golf & Country Club.
"Coming in here and beating some of the players that were here this week, I couldn't think of anything better, really," Medley said. "There was a couple times this spring when I didn't really know if [golf] was for me or not."
Medley, of Athens, Ala., shot a 1-over-par 73 in Sunday's final round for a 9-under 281 total on the 6,928-yard, par-72 River Hills layout. He earned $34,500 for his one-stroke victory over past U.S. Amateur runner-up Casey Wittenberg of Memphis, Tenn., former Francis Marion golfer Luke Hart of Blythewood and Emmett Turner of Augusta, Ga., who was in control of the tournament before a collapse on the final three holes.
Turner and Medley entered the final round tied for the lead at 10 under. Medley double-bogeyed the fourth hole and Turner made birdie putts of 10, 15 and 25 feet on three of the first four holes to quickly take a five-stroke lead.
Turner, an Augusta State grad who now has four runner-up finishes without a win in two years on the Hooters Tour, was still 2 under for his round and had a three-shot lead through 15 holes. But he missed a 4-foot putt to bogey 16 and hit a shot into the water to bogey the par-5 17th, then doubled the 18th despite finding the fairway off the tee.
"I just didn't get it done coming home," he said. "I just didn't make too many good swings coming in."
On the 18th, Medley, who birdied the 17th, found a fairway bunker off the tee. He couldn't reach the green because of a high bunker lip, so he pitched into the fairway, hit his third on the fringe and chipped to 5 feet to set up the winning putt.
Turner short-sided himself in thick rough to the left of the green, took two chips and two-putted from 10 feet. "I just hit a bad golf shot and had nothing left," Turner said. "... You just can't be over there. The mistake was hitting it over there, not the shots from there."
Chasing Turner from the outset, Medley played a roller coaster round that included an eagle, three birdies, two bogeys and two double bogeys to win just his fourth tournament as a pro.
"Looking back four months ago to say I would be here now, I'd be lying to you if I said I wasn't a little surprised," Medley said. "But coming into this week am I surprised I won? I'm not. I'm playing with more confidence than I've ever played with right now, and I know the things I'm doing are right, and I know I'm playing well. It was basically a matter of putting four rounds together."