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Outside a couple shaky moments at the onset of his final round, Eugenio Lopez-Chacarra looked at ease en route to his first professional victory at the 2022 LIV Golf Bangkok. Firing a 3-under 69 to reach 19 under and fend off the likes of Patrick Reed, Paul Casey and Richard Bland, the former All-American at Oklahoma State successfully entered the winner’s circle with his Fireballs teammates looking on.
Beginning his day with a birdie, Lopez-Chacarra was able to maintain his overnight lead of five strokes. This would be fleeting as a pair of bogeys on Nos. 4-5 — his first two of the week — opened the door for his pursuers to walk through. Reed did just that as the former Masters champion quickly became Lopez-Chacarra’s main competition with three birdies in a five-hole stretch.
With this run from Reed, the Spaniard saw his lead shrink to two before a rain delay forced players off the golf course late on Sunday. Like a perfectly timed timeout in an NBA game, the break in action was exactly what Lopez-Chacarra needed to resettle his nerves and finish his LIV Golf Bangkok experience the way he started it.
“[I] knew it was going to be hard today,” Lopez-Chacarra said. “It was going to be a long day. There’s such good players coming from behind and they want to win as much as I do. I just stayed patient, and I feel like when the rain and the cold out on 15 helped me a lot. I needed some time off.”
Faced with a delicate chip on the par-4 15th, the 22-year-old hit it to gimme range and successfully saved his par.
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“I was kind of pretty nervous, and being with my family, my coach and my best friend Gonzalo kind of helped me relax and just see how life is and how nice is my life right now and just kind of going out there and trust all the work I’ve put in, and when I was on 15, I think that’s the best chip I ever had in my life,” Lopez-Chacarra said. “It was an easy shot, downhill, a little wet, but it came out like I wanted to, and I think that was big momentum coming into the last three holes, and here I am right now. Couldn’t be any more proud.”
At the same time, Reed’s first swing out of the rain delay was one he wish he had back. Teeing off on the par-3 16th only two strokes off Lopez-Chacarra’s lead, Reed made a fatal mistake and found the water with his tee shot. This additional breathing room was more than enough for Lopez-Chacarra as he added a birdie on the par-5 17th to ultimately win by three strokes over Reed.
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“Feels great. I mean, I don’t think there’s a lot of secret. Just trusting yourself and working hard every day,” Lopez-Chacarra said. “That’s what they teach me when I was young and what these guys tell me you need to do, and trusting your team, having a good team, and just work and work I would say.”
Lopez-Chacarra not only claimed the individual trophy, but also the team title as the Fireballs waltzed to the first-place podium. Finally disarming the 4 Aces — winners of four straight team events — Abraham Ancer, Carlos Ortiz and captain Sergio Garcia were able to follow in the footsteps of their youngest team member to reach 45 under as a squad and win by seven strokes over the Crushers.
“It’s an amazing week,” Garcia said. “I think that we all played really, really solid, and to be able to, like you said, Four Aces were coming off four wins in a row, I think, so we knew that it wasn’t going to be easy, but we all had a lot of faith in each other. We’ve been playing really, really well and been quite close a couple of times. We felt like we just needed to click a little bit here and there, and that was going to make the difference, and that’s what happened this week.”
The 4 Aces were unable to carry their U.S. momentum to Asia despite Reed’s best efforts. LIV Boston winner Dustin Johnson was stuck in neutral for most of the week and despite a final round 5-under 67 finished solo 16th. This marked the first time the 4 Aces captain’s name fell outside the top 10 on the leaderboard, but still Johnson remains in a good position to win the season-long individual points race with only one event left.
The First Cut podcast crew is back to bring you their recap for the Shriners Children’s Open and the LIV Bangkok event. Follow & listen to The First Cut on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.
Sergio Garcia, Abraham Ancer, Carlos Ortiz, Eugenio Lopez-Chacarra
Bryson DeChambeau, Paul Casey, Charles Howell III, Anirban Lahiri
Richard Bland, Laurie Canter, Martin Kaymer, Graeme McDowell
Sadom Kaewkanjana, Phacara Khongwatmai, Sihwan Kim, Kevin Na
Turk Petit, James Piot, Hudson Swafford, Harold Varner III
Talor Gooch, Dustin Johnson, Pat Perez, Patrick Reed
Sam Horsfield, Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood, Henrik Stenson
Chase Koepka, Peter Uihlein, Brooks Koepka, Jason Kokrak
Matt Jones, Wade Ormsby, Cameron Smith, Marc Leishman
Bernd Wiesberger, Phil Mickelson, Matthew Wolff, Cameron Tringale
Branden Grace, Shaun Norris, Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel
Jediah Morgan, Hideto Tanihara, Scott Vincent, Joaquin Niemann
There is no rest for the weary as LIV Golf is set to wrap up its regular season next week in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Playing in back-to-back weeks for the first time in the tour’s existence, players will hop on the jet from Bangkok to Jeddah and quickly assimilate themselves to the new venue from Oct. 14-16.
After putting the finishing touches on the regular season, players will have a week to prepare for the team championship at Trump National Doral. Taking place Oct. 27-30, a recently announced format featuring byes, alternate shot, singles matches and stroke play will pin teams head-to-head against each other before crowning the first LIV Golf Team Champion.
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