While the WGC Match Play raged on in Austin, fan-favorite Joel Dahmen earned a long-awaited first Tour victory down in the Dominican Republic.
Dahmen grinded out four pars to close out his final round with a score of 12 under to clip Rafael Campos and Sam Ryder by one stroke in the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship. Campos, who was playing with Dahmen, lipped out a putt on the 72nd hole which would have pushed him into a playoff.
Despite being a top 100 player in the world over most of the last two years, Dahmen had never sealed the deal with a victory in a Tour event. He looked well on his way Sunday when he raced out to four under through seven holes, but made zero birdies in his final 11. He bogeyed the 11th and 14th to tighten up the leaderboard.
“All of a sudden I kind of hit an uncommitted shot on 11 and things started to go really quickly,” Dahmen said afterward. “I felt fine inside, but everything was happening pretty quick out there.”
So it goes on Sunday afternoons on the PGA Tour.
Windy conditions in the D.R. made for a firm, tricky golf course where few on the leaderboard were making birdies on the back nine. Dahmen needed nervy up-and-down par saves on 16 and 17 to take his lead to the final hole of the event. When Campos’ putt lipped out on 18, all that remained for Dahmen was a two-footer for par and his first career victor.
“I don’t know how I tapped in that two or three-footer there, but thankfully it went in,” he said. The reaction that followed was everything.
Dahmen’s road to this win has been a long one. It included a personal battle with testicular cancer and dropping out of the golf program at the University of Washington. He battled through some very low stretches of confidence, always putting faith in the process of simply maintaining his Tour status. With his win on Sunday, he’ll now have guaranteed job security through 2023 and what sounds like plenty of celebratory drinks.
“Hopefully back home at Lewis & Clark’s, you’re partying,” Dahmen said during his post-round interview. “Mesa Country Club boys, open up the tab, I’ll be home next week and this is unbelievable.”