Titleist Brand Ambassador Martin Flores (Pro V1) showed a flair for the dramatic this past weekend, waiting until the 16th hole in the final round of the last regular season event of the year to make the move that would ultimately earn him a spot in the FedExCup Playoffs.
Flores started the week at No. 139 in the FedExCup standings, knowing that he needed a strong performance at the Wyndham Championship to break into the top 125, the cut line for the playoffs.
Deep into the back-nine on Sunday at Sedgefield CC, it was almost time to press the panic button.
“I knew exactly what I needed to do,” said Flores, “especially when I was at the 15th fairway, the par 5. I knew I needed two more (birdies) and I was fortunate to get three.”
He moved his score three more strokes in the red, not by birdieing or eagling the par-5 15th. Instead, he waited until the 172-yard par-3 16th hole to strike. As Flores explained, he benefited from playing second and watching the shot of his playing partner and fellow Titleist Brand Ambassador, Cameron Smith (Pro V1x).
“I was really thankful that I got to watch Cam hit first because that kind of changed a little bit of how hard I was going to hit my 8-iron. He had 8-iron and went really far.”
Flores also selected 8-iron, but decided to take a little off the swing with his AP2.
“Just hit a little 8-iron. I hit it perfect. Hoping it was the right number. Watch it go in -- it was a great, phenomenal shot and part luck. Very thankful it went in. Oh, man. I didn't know I could jump that high!”
After the ace, Flores was right where he needed to be in order to make the Playoffs for the first time since 2014. He had a great look for birdie on No. 17, but narrowly missed. He had one last chance to assure himself a spot at the difficult 507-yard par-4 18th.
“Had a fantastic drive all the way to the bottom,” recalled Flores, “almost too far. I had a great wedge and I couldn't have asked for an easier putt.”
He was left with an 8-footer for birdie, a final chance to ensure a top-10 finish and seal a trip to New York and the first leg of the FedExCup Playoffs, The Northern Trust.
“Just kept telling myself, ‘You have to make it. I don't care what you have to do, just find a way to make it’ and I was able to go through my process and how I've been doing the whole day and I was able to put a pure stroke on it and buried it.”
When his Pro V1 found the bottom of the cup for a birdie-3 at the last, Flores finished with a 7-under-par 63, good for a T7 finish. The late charge moved him to No. 119 in FedExCup standings and punched his ticket to New York.
“Just a fantastic day,” Flores summed up. “I did everything I could today and I'm really proud of how I played. Lot of hard work. A lot of blood, sweat and tears and, you know, this game will beat you down sometimes and you'll have a lot of struggles and when things finally go how you envision in your mind you see all your hard work pay off.”
Congratulations, Martin, and good luck in the playoffs!