George McNeill only needed to make par on the 72nd hole to secure a win at the 2012 Puerto Rico Open over the weekend, but instead decided to add some style points with a closing birdie en route to his second-career PGA Tour victory. McNeill, who finished the day with three consecutive birdies, won the tournament with rounds of 66-70-67-69 for a four-day score of -18, 272.
McNeill, who won previously at the 2007 Frys.com Open during his rookie year, was the 54-hole leader at Trump International Golf Club in Puerto Rico but still needed to make a Sunday charge since the leaderboard was filled with low scores.
“I was really nervous, but I knew what I had to do, and basically I just had to bear down and get it done,” said McNeill, a 36-year-old Florida State alum. “If not, then somebody else was going to win. I was trying to basically have control of myself, and that’s all I was looking for.”
He earned $630,000 for the triumph, along with 250 FedEx Cup points.
McNeill’s story really is that of a journeyman. He turned professional in 1998 and tried to make a name for himself on the Nationwide Tour and mini-tours. After a few years with varying results, McNeill gave up playing competitive golf completely and returned to Florida to work as a teaching professional. After nine months of working at two different golf courses, McNeill had had enough and made the decision to get back to what he loved – playing golf at the highest level.
In 145 career PGA Tour starts, McNeill now has two wins, six runner-ups and two playoff losses. He’s learned a lot since his first victory.
“I think I was a little dumb, for lack of a better word, in 2007,” McNeill said. “I really didn’t know any better.
“It’s not easy to be the best even if it’s only for one week, and that’s why it’s tough. And you got to take in golf what you can and move on.”
In his bag this week was:
Driver: Launcher Ultralite TL310, 9.5*
Irons: 588 Forged MB, 3-PW
Wedges: 588 Forged 54* & 60*
Ball: Srixon Z-STAR XV