Buckley (Si5 Offset) wins ATB Financial Classic in sudden-death playoff - MacKenzie Tour CANADA (PGATOUR.com)

CALGARY, ALTA. — For the first time in 2019, 72 holes wasn’t enough as Hayden Buckley needed extra holes to claim the ATB Financial Classic title for his first professional victory. Buckley made par on the first playoff hole to defeat Sam Fidone.

“Sam is a great dude to play with, and we battled all day,” said Buckley, who moves to the fifth spot on the Order of Merit with the victory. “I’ve been close so many times, and finally finishing it off was something I really liked.”

Beginning the day with a three-stroke lead over Fidone, Buckley made two birdies in his first three holes to create some separation. Fighting back, the tournament quickly became a two-man race as Fidone played hole Nos. 2-7 in 5-under par to get within one of Buckley heading into the back nine.

“It felt like I was due for a good ball-striking day,” said Buckley, who was named the University of Missouri Male Athlete of the Year after a four win 2017-18 senior campaign. “I haven’t really hit it well all week. I’ve hit it good enough to compete, but I haven’t hit it where I wanted to, and I did that today.”

While Buckley was striking it well, but failing to convert on the greens, the opposite could be said for Fidone, who made a 40-foot putt for par on No. 10 after driving his ball into the fescue.

Buckley called hole No. 15 a “turning point,” when, for the first time of the day, his name was no longer at the top of the leaderboard.

“I had 95 yards in, hit it over the green and made bogey as (Fidone) made birdie and jumped ahead of me,” said the 23-year old. “I got a little flustered because I wasn’t sure how that happened. I got a little momentum, and the ball started flying farther. It was a pretty emotional day.”

With Buckley comfortably on the green on the 17th, looking at a 12-foot birdie chance, Fidone flew the green from 75 yards and left himself a tricky pitch, short-sided with the green sloping away from him.

Buckley watched as Fidone hit his chip well past the pin, to 50 feet.

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Hayden Buckley (Si5 Offset) fires 63 to lead on Mackenzie Tour (TSN.ca)

MackenzieTour-logo2016EDMONTON — Edmonton Country Club’s course record was matched bright and early on Thursday during the first round of the 1932byBateman Open as Hayden Buckley, playing out of the second group of the day, managed eight birdies without a blemish on his card to sign for an opening-round 63.

In his first professional season, Buckley has quickly learned how to adapt on the fly.

Following a T8 finish at the Windsor Championship, an event where Buckley posted four rounds of 68 or lower, including a second-round 64, he decided that it was time for a change.

“I wasn’t comfortable,” said the 2018 Missouri University Male Athlete of the Year. “I’ve always told myself that when I’m comfortable over the ball, I feel like I’ll make putts.

“I’ve played the U.S. Amateur with that putter and shot rounds in the low 60s with it, but there comes a time when you have to make a change.”

Despite three top-10 finishes through the opening five events of the season, Buckley walked into Golf Town in Toronto on Monday before the Osprey Valley Open looking for a way to revamp his game.

“I went in looking for a new grip, but they didn’t have what I wanted, so I grabbed a putter off the rack, hit a few putts with it, and bought it,” said Buckley, who has had the Seemore putter in his bag ever since. “I had one of the best putting weeks that I’ve had in Toronto.”

The 23-year old carried his momentum from the T5 finish into the HFX Pro-Am, where he posted four more under-par scores to place T11 and launch himself into the ninth spot on the Order of Merit.

Working almost exclusively with the new putter during the off-week back home in Tupelo, Mississippi, Buckley credits Thursday’s professional-best score to the efforts he put in on the green last week.

“The week off was huge, most of my time was spent putting, so today, standing over 30-footers, I felt comfortable and was lucky to see a few of those roll in,” said Buckley, who made four 30-foot looks on Thursday. “The biggest issue was getting used to the speed, but I’ve gotten there, and it was a day where I didn’t hit it great, just good enough, but I made a lot of putts.

“You can’t rely on making 30-footers every day, but I’ll take them when they fall.”

David Rose managed a bogey-free 65 and is the low Canadian heading into Friday. The score is the 30-year old’s lowest-career Mackenzie Tour round.

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Steven Tiley (mFGP Black) triumphs with wire-to-wire success in France (@Challenge_Tour ~ @tileyprogolfer)

250px-PGA_European_Challenge_Tour_logoSteve Tiley claimed his first win on the European Challenge Tour with a wire-to-wire victory at Le Vaudreuil Golf Challenge.

The Englishman, playing his 11th season on the Challenge Tour, finished runner-up to last year’s wire-to-wire champion Richard McEvoy, but went one better this time, recording a final round of 72, one over par, for an 11 under par total to seal a debut victory.

After opening rounds of 64-68-69, the 36-year-old held off the challenge from compatriot Richard Bland to become the third successive Englishman to lift the trophy at Golf PGA France du Vaudreuil following in the footsteps of McEvoy and Aaron Rai.

“It sounds fantastic. I came close last year and finished runner-up to my good friend Maccas, so it was nice to seal the deal this year,” Tiley said.  

S-Tiley-win“I was feeling nervous on the first tee. I’d slept on the lead for the last two nights and that is always hard because you wake up thinking about the different scenarios.

“It’s a tough tee shot on the first hole and I didn’t want to put myself in the bunker or up the lip of it. It was a nervous start and I was pretty nervous all day, but I slowly got into the round, playing a few holes without nerves helped a lot.”

Tiley’s final round featured four bogeys alongside three birdies as he clinched the victory, however, it was his short game which helped him claim a memorable triumph at a favourable venue.

“I think I only missed five putts inside ten feet all week, so I holed out really well, which was great,” he said. “There were a lot of key saves today, but the birdie on ten was pretty good and that helped me take charge a little bit.

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