RIO GRANDE, Puerto Rico — Needing to win or finish solo second to retain PGA Tour status, Ryan Brehm went out Sunday and ran away with the Puerto Rico Open for his first tour title.
With wife Chelsey at his side as his caddie, the 35-year-old Brehm birdied five of the first 11 holes at windy Grand Reserve and beat Max McGreevy by six strokes.
Three-strokes ahead entering the day, Brehm shot a 5-under 67 to finish at 20-under 268 in the make-or-break start on a minor medical extension. He got the one-tournament extension after he had to withdraw from the Zuruch Classic last year because of COVID-19.
“It might sound like Bill Belichick or Nick Saban here, but honestly, wasn’t thinking about the impact of my status or anything this week,” Brehm said. “I think that’s probably the real lesson here. I have people on my team that will do that for me. Really, I just need to put my head down and hit good golf shot after good golf shot. That’s my job and I’m going to trust people around me to do their job and they can take care of all those details for me.”
With the event played opposite the Arnold Palmer Invitational in Orlando, Florida, Brehm received a two-year exemption and a spot in the PGA Championship, but will not be exempt for the Masters. The 6-foot-4 former Michigan State player won in his 68th start on the tour. He’s ranked 773rd in the world.
Brehm started fast with a birdie on the par-4 first and added another on the par-5 fifth. He ran off three straight on the par-4 ninth and 10th and par-3 11th and parred the final seven.
“The weather today — oh, my gosh, it got crazy out there,” Brehm said. “I think it helped me because I was over a couple shots and I just mentally went, ‘Just hit it.’ It worked out every single time. It doesn’t always do that, but today it did. That weather got crazy.”
The Brehms became the first husband-wife caddie team to win since Justine and Patrick Reed in the 2013 Wyndham Championship.
“Our goal coming into this week was just to improve every day, every shot, every round, every hole,” Brehm said. “We committed to that and I can say that it worked this week. I think it took a lot of mental discipline, took a lot of conversing. It was great having Chels up there with me caddying. It was a special week. I don’t know, there was just something special about it from the moment we landed.”
Brehm also got a spot next week in The Players Championship.
McGreevy closed with a 69.
Brandon Wu (69) and Tommy Gainey (70) were another stroke back at 13 under, and Callum Tarren (70) and Chad Ramey (71) were 12 under.
University of Oklahoma senior Chris Gotterup tied for seventh in his PGA Tour debut, shooting a 81 to finish at 11 under. He won the Puerto Rico Classic collegiate event two weeks ago at Grand Reserve.
Puerto Rico native Rafa Campos tied for 59th at 2 under, shooting 73-75 on the weekend.