(Reuters) - Fabian Gomez of Argentina became an unlikely first-time winner on the PGA Tour on Sunday.
With a crowded leaderboard around him that included highly-rated American Brooks Koepka, not many gave Gomez a chance of emerging victor at the FedEx St. Jude Classic at TPC Southwind in Memphis.
He entered the final round as co-leader with the more experienced Greg Owen, who also was seeking his first PGA Tour win.
Gomez, however, was as cool as a cucumber to produce a four-shot victory that included a 30-foot birdie at the closing hole to put an exclamation point on his 13-under 267 total.
A closing 66 from the 288th-ranked golfer in the world made him the latest Argentine winner on the PGA Tour, following in the footsteps of Roberto De Vicenzo, Jose Coceres, Angel Cabrera and Andres Romero. Cabrera supplied the last PGA Tour victory by an Argentine at the Greenbrier Classic a year ago.
Coceres was a mentor of Gomez earlier in his career. The two remain good friends and live a few houses away from each other in Buenos Aires.
“I slept well last night, had a nice barbecue at the hotel,” Gomez said through a translator.
“I tried to keep playing the same way I played the last three days, and I tried to keep my mind blank and enjoy the round.”
In 69 previous PGA Tour events, Gomez had only three top-10 finishes. But he does have a Web.com victory and 11 other wins in Latin America and Canada on his resume.
He is not exempt for the U.S. Open this week, but his win secures his card through the 2016-17 season. He also earns a spot in the PGA Championship and 2016 Masters.
Gomez and Owen began the final round with a dozen players within four shots.
Gomez fell behind Owen by two shots after the opening seven holes, but pulled even heading to the back nine. A seven-foot birdie putt at the par-three 11th put Gomez up for good.
Phil Mickelson’s final round 65 pushed him into a five-way tie for third at eight-under with South Korean Noh Seung-yul(65), American Michael Thompson (66), Australian Matt Jones (66) and Koepka (70).
(Reporting by Tim Wharnsby. Editing by Andrew Both)