Former Auburn All-American Roland Thatcher sets tournament record with Nationwide Tour's Peek'n Peak Classic win

AUBURNTIGERSDOTCOM
AUBURNTIGERSDOTCOM

AUBURNTIGERSDOTCOM

July 2, 2007

FINDLEY LAKE, N.Y. -- Former Auburn All-American Roland Thatcher set a new tournament record Sunday by finishing the Peek'n Peak Classic at 15 under par and winning by three strokes over Paul Claxton at the Peek'n Peak Resort and Spa for his second career Nationwide Tour victory and his first win since 2002.

Thatcher was a second-team All-America selection and won the SEC Individual Championship in 2000. He was a 1999 All-America scholar and was a four-time Academic SEC Honor Roll member from 1997-2000.

The win comes after a string of consistent golf as Thatcher has made eight of his last nine cuts, finishing inside the top 25 in all eight events. The 30-year-old said that while he has fond memories of his victory at the 2002 Bank of America Monterey Peninsula Classic, this win shows that he has found a more consistent approach to his golf game.

"It's been a long time since I've been in the winner's circle," he said. "You put a lot of hard work and energy working on your game and it's such a great feeling when it all comes together and you get a win at an event like this."

The $108,000 first-prize moves Thatcher to No. 4 on the Nationwide Tour money list, well on his way to finishing inside 'The 25' and earning his PGA TOUR card for the 2008 season. The Auburn University graduate played on the Nationwide Tour in 2002-2003 and in 2006, and was a member of the PGA TOUR in 2004 and 2005. Much like the difference in Thatcher and his game between his win four years ago and his win on Sunday, Thatcher also feels more prepared for a second try on the PGA TOUR

"There's five years of maturity for one thing, there's a reason why most golfers peak when they're in their 30s," he said. "There's a tremendous experience level, and I'm certainly a much better putter then when I was on tour last time."

Thatcher closed the front nine with birdies on holes 8 and 9 to give him a four-stroke lead over Paul Claxton. With the rest of the field treading water, Thatcher birdied holes 13 and 16 to coast to the largest margin of victory in tournament history.With his victory, Thatcher has now earned more than $240,000 this year.

He noted that playing on the Nationwide Tour has been key in helping him mature as a golfer.

"The level of competition on the Nationwide Tour is self-evident. Everywhere you look, the guys who are winning on the PGA TOUR are guys who made stops on the Nationwide Tour," he said. "It's not just PGA TOUR events, it's major championships.

"You are seeing that the proving ground on the Nationwide Tour is challenging guys and making players better and more capable when they step out on the PGA TOUR. If you can make it out here the right way by playing consistent throughout the year, you will be prepared for the PGA TOUR."

With his second-place finish, Claxton earned more than $64,000 and takes over the No. 1 spot on the money list with $270,921 in winnings this season. He won earlier this year at the Melwood Prince George's County Open near Washington, D.C., and has six top-25 finishes this season. Claxton jumped from No. 3 on the money list and moved ahead of Nick Flanagan, who has won twice this season.

"This Tour is too good to sit and pat yourself on the back about being No. 1 on the money list," Claxton said. "There are a bunch of guys behind you waiting to beat you next week."

Claxton and Thatcher have coincidently moved between the Nationwide Tour and the PGA TOUR during the same time periods over the past several years. During that time, Claxton said that they have played numerous rounds together and Thatcher seems to always make his putts when they are in the same group.

"I'm officially his whipping boy. I'm his red-headed stepchild, there's no doubt about it. He beats me like a drum," Claxton playfully pointed out. "If anybody is going to beat me, you want it to be a good guy like Roland. He has paid his dues and he is a great player and a good person."

Final-Round News & Notes: Brock Mackenzie made the biggest move on Sunday with a 7-under-par 65 to move from T22 to T2 and finish at 10 under par. Mackenzie shot a 32 on his opening nine holes, then finished the tournament with birdies on holes 16-18 to shoot the low round of the day by three strokes. ... Mackenzie had the only bogey-free round on Sunday. ... The average score on Sunday was 73.500, the highest in tournament history for the final round. For the week, the course played to a 72.960 average, also a tournament high. ... The par 4, 480-yard 15th hole played as the most difficult on Sunday, yielding just three birdies for the round. For the day, the hole played to an average of 4.457 strokes per player.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS
ROLAND THATCHER'S FINAL STATS
Category Total Rank
Eagles 0 N/A
Birdies 20 T2
Pars 46 T24
Bogeys 5 59
Double Bogeys 0 N/A
Other 0 N/A
Driving Accuracy 67.3% 7
Driving Distance 321.6 yds. 10
Greens in Regulation 73.2% 13
Putts per Round 28.0 T3
Putts per GIR 1.731 8
Sand Saves 0.0% T39