While most American golf-watching eyes were fixated on Cherry Hills Country Club in Denver as Billy Horschel captured the BMW Championship, it was an event across the pond that caught the eyes of Northwestern sports fans.
David Lipsky, from the class of 2011, made a difficult par on the first playoff hole to secure victory in the Omega European Masters in Switzerland after birdieing the 18th to get to 18-under 262 and force extra holes. The event was co-sponsored by the European and Asian Tours, and the win vaults Lipsky to the top of the Asian tour's money list.
In the playoff, Lipsky's opponent, Englishman Graeme Storm, drove his ball well right and was forced to pitch back into the fairway. Lipsky drove his ball into a fairway bunker, and elected to layup short of the water hazard in front of the green rather than risk disaster by trying the miracle shot. His third shot was a delightful chip that finished no more than two feet from the cup, and after Storm couldn't convert a lengthy par putt, Lipsky holed his for a $497,000 payday, by far the largest of his career.
The decision to play safe was one commentator Wayne Riley called "heartless." But for Lipsky, the decision wasn't all that difficult, even if it may have been unpopular.
"I was just playing the percentages," Lipsky, who's only other professional win was the 2012 Cambodian Classic, told the AP.
With the victory, Lipsky will also be exempt on the European Tour until 2016, widely considered second in quality and depth only to the PGA Tour. In the difficult world of professional golf, having guaranteed status on a tour of that stature is valuable beyond measure, especially for someone who's route to success has been as circuitous as Lipsky's.
After a stellar career at Northwestern that saw him win the 2010 Big Ten Championship and be honored as an All-American, Lipsky turned pro and has spent five years toiling on both the Asian and Web.com tours with limited success. But 2014 has been a different story- he's earned top-25 finished in each of his last five European tour starts.
"It feels great," Lipsky told the AP. "I've played well the past couple of weeks and to put it all together is really something special."
Fellow former wildcat Matthew Fitzpatrick, who left school after one quarter as the top amateur golfer in the world, shot 73-69 to miss the cut in the event.
(photo via Wikipedia)