Sean Crocker surged into the top 50 of the DP World Tour Rankings in partnership with Rolex after batting off the challenge of Eddie Pepperell to claim an impressive wire-to-wire victory at the Hero Open.
The 25-year-old American captured his maiden DP World Tour title with a closing 68 at Fairmont St Andrews to hold off Englishman Pepperell by a stroke on Sunday.
Crocker banked 460 invaluable DP World Tour Rankings points to leap 94 places to 39th in the Rankings, comfortably inside the top 50 cut off point – which at the conclusion of the season will grant a coveted place in the season-ending DP World Tour Championship at Jumeirah Golf Estates in November.
It is a remarkable reversal of fortunes for Crocker who endured eight missed cuts and a retirement from the Magical Kenya Open in his first nine starts this season.
Given another missed cut at last week’s Cazoo Classic in Southport, there were very few clues of the breakthrough week in Scotland but Crocker found something in mythical St Andrews for his first pro win.
“It’s awesome. It just shows you that you don’t know what this game is going to bring you,” said Crocker, who has risen 108 places in the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) to 133rd.
“We go out there every day trying our hardest and we can play terrible for a long time and then all of a sudden you have a week like this where every bounce seemed to go my way, putts dropped, I hit the ball beautifully and it just makes me appreciate this game I play and what I get to do for a living.
“I hope I keep putting myself in this position. That door has been locked shut for me for almost five years. To go wire-to-wire, I think I knocked the door clean off its hinges, which is nice.”
Crocker started the day two ahead, but found himself tied for the lead early on after a fast styart from Pepperell. Three successive birdies from the tenth, however, stretched Crocker’s advantage back out to two again. After Pepperell posted a clubhouse target of 21 under par after a final round 65, Crocker then held his nerve by parring his way home.
“I was nervous,” said Crocker. “I’ve felt pressure like that before but it’s my first pro tournament [win]. That putt looked like it was 20 feet, that hole looked like it was half-an-inch wide. Right off the face I knew it was a well-struck putt and as I looked up and I saw it drop I was telling myself ‘don’t start crying’.”
Pepperell’s consolation came in the form of 305 DP World Tour Ranking points, propelling him 91 places up to 72nd place.
Dubai-based Spaniard Adrian Otaegui and Scot David Law finished tied third on 19 under par and are up to 21st and 38th place in the Rankings, rises of nine and 12 places respectively.
The DP World Tour rolls on to the €1.75 million Cazoo Open supported by Gareth Bale at Celtic Manor in Newport this week.