FARMINGTON — James Drew told a secret Sunday afternoon following the final round of the 2012 Utah Open.
Shortly after winning the tournament and a check for $20,000, the Las Vegas professional became emotional while chatting with members of the media inside the clubhouse at Oakridge Country Club.
“I haven’t told anybody this,” he said blinking back tears. “Earlier this week I was trying to figure out how I was going to tell my sponsor, while I was driving home tonight, that I was probably going to pack it up for the year.”
After a brief pause, the 38-year-old added, “So, now I don’t have to.”
In a field full of them, Drew was the top grinder Sunday, hammering out an impressive victory and a much-needed paycheck.
After a 67 on Friday and a 66 Saturday, he fired a final-round 64 to earn a come-from-behind victory over second-place finisher Dusty Fielding, of St. George.
Drew’s 36-hole total of 197 was good enough for 19 under par. Fielding was next at 17 under and a check for $14,000.
Three others — including Davis Park assistant pro Zach Johnson — finished in a tie for third, which yielded $5,250.
North Ogden’s Zac Blair shot an even-par 72 in the final round and finished as the tournament’s low amateur at 10 under.
Moments before meeting with reporters, Drew slipped away long enough to make a phone call home to his wife and two sons.
“It feels great,” he said. “I’ve won a few tournaments in my life. This is up there with any of the ones that I’ve won.”
Drew recalled winning a Gateway Tour event, which landed him a $36,000 payday.
“At the time I was broke, kind of like now,” he said. “They both feel special in the same way.”
Like many of the participants at the Utah Open, Drew had been playing on the National Pro Golf Tour, which recently canceled the rest of its 2012 schedule, citing a financial breakdown.
“They owe me $16,000 plus all my entry fees,” he said. “My problems aren’t only necessarily the $16,000 they never gave me, it’s the $15,000 I spent to go play in all these golf tournaments.”
Fielding is in a similar financial predicament thanks to the NPGT shutdown. He said he is owed about $15,000, but as Drew noted, it’s also the entry fees and travel expenses he paid to play in previous events.
Fielding, who shot a pair of 65s for the first two rounds, was 18 under and owned a four-shot lead going into the back nine Sunday.
After carding four birdies on the front, he saw his first bogey of the tournament on Oakridge’s par-4 14th.
Fielding admitted he felt some pressure down the stretch, but at the same time, Drew was masterful as he birdied the last three holes to take the lead.
He hit an 18-foot putt on hole No. 17 and another 25-footer on 18.
After scoring a birdie on 16 and a par on 17, Fielding could have sent the tournament into a playoff with a birdie on 18. However, knowing Drew had taken the lead, he hit his driver off the tee and sent it off line. His shot landed in one of the practice bunkers well right of the hole.
He wound up taking a bogey on the 18th.
“I just hit a terrible drive,” Fielding said. “I put myself in a really bad spot.”