A month ago Cody Gribble didn’t look like playing on the PGA Tour, let alone winning on golf’s toughest circuit.
The tour rookie has become the first big beneficiary of the washout of the Web.com Tour’s season-ending event at the start of October, cashing in on his good fortune to win the Sanderson Farms Championship in Mississippi. The event’s opposite-field status doesn’t earn Gribble a place at the Masters next April, but it does afford him every other perk of capturing a tournament on the PGA Tour, including exempt status for effectively three seasons. Gribble also becomes the first left-hander to win on the circuit since Australia’s Greg Chalmers last July.
The 26-year-old rebounded from an opening 73 at The Country Club of Jackson course to card rounds of 63, 67 and 65 to move from a stroke behind after 54 holes to a four-shot victory lap at 20-under par. He birdied five holes in a seven-hole stretch over the closing nine to draw clear of playing partners Chris Kirk and Luke List, who had shared the overnight lead at 14-under.
“I knew I was in a good spot and I knew I was playing well. It’s hard not to sit there and look at the scoreboard, look where you’re at and how you’re doing.” Cody Gribble
“I knew I was in a good spot and I knew I was playing well,” said Gribble, who opted to not leaderboard-watch during his formidable closing run. “It’s hard not to sit there and look at the scoreboard, look where you’re at and how you’re doing.”
Gribble earned his way to the PGA Tour this season via a 19th-place rank after the Web.com Tour Finals, which granted PGA Tour cards to its leading 25 players. Gribble’s precarious ranking became a blessing when the threat of Hurricane Matthew washed out the Web.com Tour Championship, the results of which might have cost him a place on the main tour. Three weeks later, he’s a PGA Tour winner.
The Texan is now the second member of the vaunted University of Texas’ Class of 2012 to win on the PGA Tour, following the lead of two-time major champion Jordan Spieth. Gribble, Spieth and European Tour player Dylan Frittelli were part of the team to capture the national championship that year. This, of course is a far bigger stage.
“There’s no words right now. It’s an unbelievable experience,” Gribble said.
The Australian contingent was largely silent at the Sanderson Farms Championship, adding to the now 48-year-old drought in the alternate-field event. Cameron Smith’s tie for 11th at 12-under, eight shots behind Gribble, was the best return.