What started out on Sunday as a dogfight among a host of tournament contenders ended up much differently as Australian James Nitties ran away from the field in the final round and posted a five-stroke victory in the Midwest Classic at the Nicklaus Golf Club in Overland Park.
Nitties earned his first win on the Nationwide professional golf tour with four rounds of near-perfect golf over the 7,200-yard Jack Nicklaus-designed layout in southern Kansas City. Nitties put together three-rounds of six-under-par 65 to go along with a 63 on Day 2 in posting a composite score of 26-under 258, tying the second lowest score ever on the Nationwide Tour.
Second place went to Sweden's Jonas Blixt and Nitties' countryman Nick Flanagan, both of whom ended the tournament with a score of 263, five shots back of Nitties. Jason Kokrak and Texan J.J. Killeen were the highest finishing Americans in the field, winding up in a tie for fourth with New Zealander Josh Geary at 20-under 264.
Killeen, who had been first or second on the leaderboard through the first three rounds and started the final day one-shot back of Nitties, had his most difficult day on Sunday, posting a one-under 70, his highest score of the tournament. A triple-bogey seven at the par-four 15th hole eliminated any chances Killeen had of winning. Coming to the 15th hole on Sunday, Netties' lead over Killeen, who was seeking his third win in his last three tournaments, was just one stroke.
"This is the kind of course where a one-shot lead feels like nothing," Nitties told reporters afterward. "You know all the guys are going to be going nuts making birdies.
"I was walking down the fairway on the last (hole) and my caddie said, ‘You've got three,'" the 28-year-old Australian said. "I said, three what? I need to make a three for birdie? He said, ‘No, you've got a three-shot lead.'"
"I've been waiting for this one for a while," said Nitties, who spent the last two seasons on the PGA Tour. "There's still a lot of golf left to play this season, but this puts me in good position to get back to the Tour."