Nationwide event wrap Soboba Classic

Golf other than the Masters?

In case you were only watching golf this past week you wouldn’t have realized there was also Nationwide Tour event at the Country Club at Soboba Springs. Completely overshadowed by coverage of the Masters, this week’s event was won by the charismatic funny man Andres Gonzales.

On the Nationwide Tour that struggles to get attention where the majority of competitors are widely unknown, there are exceptions like the very recognizable Andres Gonzales. If you watched the PGA Tour in 2011 you would have noticed him. He is an imposing golfer at 6-foot 2-inches and nearly 230 pounds, who sports a rather uniquely grizzly fu Manchu mustache, a wildly unkempt mop of hair he is growing to donate to locks of love and is a quite the funny character. You may also remember him for his many attempts to contact Tiger Woods via Twitter that resulted in great humor but no response from the all silent one.

For those who don’t know much about him, he has competed on the Canadian tour, Nationwide Tour and the PGA Tour with three career professional wins and a best T16 on the PGA Tour at the 2011 Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic.

Gonzales, 28, started his professional golf career in 2006. After a few years of developmental tours, he succeeded in Q-School to gain his card on the PGA Tour for 2011. Unfortunately for the rookie, he failed to make enough cash in 2011 to retain his status and dropped to the Nationwide Tour for 2012. It’s not all bad for Gonzales though because he now has a victory under his belt, a ton of confidence and a big fat paycheck that comes with the win. Other pros in their sophomore season have said the second trip to the PGA Tour can be less stressful and intimidating. “It feels like I’ve really paid my dues,” Gonzales said. And he is right on target to reap the rewards and regain his card.

This will be the last year that the top 25 Nationwide money earners automatically get their ticket punched to the PGA Tour since major changes are being made at the start of the 2014 season. Good news for Gonzales since the 25th spot to make it in 2011 earned just over $180,000. Gonzales, as of this win, shot to the top of the money list and is currently at $195,810 with a large portion of the season left, a virtual shoo in for the 2013 season on the PGA Tour.

In the Soboba Classic, Gonzales fired a final-round 71 to cross the finish line two shots ahead of hard charging Andrew Svboda who also shot a final-round 71. Svboda was briefly tied with Gonzales after a chip in eagle early in the round but late round bogeys and steady play by Gonzales tempered his advance.

Falling short in rookie season of earning a spot in the Masters, Gonzales competed in the Soboba Classic last year as well, where he ultimately lost in a playoff.

“It’s been a long time since I’ve won,” said Gonzales. So it must be bittersweet to have avenged his playoff loss and collect his first win on the Nationwide Tour the same week as that little tournament at Augusta National, an event he has long dreamt of playing.

You can follow him on Twitter @Andres_Gonzales.

You can follow me on Twitter @BrantBrice

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