Nelson Ledesma earns trophy, check, PGA Tour card in thrilling fashion at inaugural TPC Colorado Championship at Heron Lakes

Photo by Dan Karpiel
Nelson Ledesma was all smiles as he held up the first-place check for $108,000 after winning the inaugural TPC Colorado Championship at Heron Lakes. Ledesma made birdie on the 18th to win the tournament in dramatic fashion with a -15 score.
 

By Dan Karpiel

The Surveyor

There could not have been a more memorable way to cap off what was a stellar week at TPC Colorado in Berthoud. There was drama all the way to the very end, culminating in a 20-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole of the inaugural TPC Colorado Championship at Heron Lakes off the stick of Argentinian-born Nelson Ledesma.

When the ball was about six feet from the hole Ledesma said, through a translator, he knew the putt was going to drop, he was going to win the tournament and with it earn his PGA Tour card for the 2020 season. “When I saw my last putt coming in, I felt great,” the 28-year-old said.  

“I started the day a little nervous, but during the round I got control of my game and then on 17, when (playing partner and runner-up Brett Coletta) made birdie I said ‘okay, it’s the two of us for the last hole,’” Ledesma explained.

Coletta’s birdie on 17 tied the score at 14-under, and most of the assembled crowd expected to see a playoff hole. But Ledesma had other plans. After both striped their drives down the 18th fairway, Coletta’s approach shot went a hair long and his putt from the fringe came up short of the hole. Ledesma took his time, using the same approach he had on putts the 71 holes prior, lined up, and drained it. He spiked his hat, pumped his fists, and acknowledged the boisterous applause of the fans surrounding 18 green.

Ledesma started the day off hot, carding birdies on the first and third holes before an ugly double on the par-four fourth brought him back to even par on the round. A pair of birdies sandwiched another bogey after the weather delay, but after that it was smooth sailing, as Ledesma made 10-straight pars before the victor-clinching birdie on 18.   

Ledesma was in control all week long, leading at the conclusion of each day, and the cherry on top when the putt dropped came in the form a beer shower from his friends, who joined him at the tournament. The champion trophy, the $108,000 winner’s check, the 15-under-par score, and all the other accompanying accolades notwithstanding, the biggest thing to come from the victory was the PGA Tour card.

The win at TPC Colorado marked Ledesma’s second victory on the newly-renamed Korn Ferry Tour (previously the Web.com Tour) and gives him 1,188 total official points, enough to secure his spot on the PGA Tour.

As Ledesma explained, “It was my dream right when I started to play. My dad encouraged me because he saw something in me. I always wanted to take it to the next level and now I’m there.”

Ledesma was cool all week, at least outwardly, never showing much in the way of nerves or fatigue as he made his way around the course, breaking par each day (70-65-69-69). His game was very workman-like; he wasn’t the longest hitter in the 156-player field, and he didn’t have the flashiest short game. What he had, however, was the steadiest, and that aspect of his game will serve him well as he competes with the very best the globe has to offer next season.

Even more, Ledesma held off charges and battled through some adversity in the final round, including a lightning delay early in the afternoon. The weather and the rounds turned in by the likes of Coletta, who finished one stroke back at -14, and Scott Harrington, Dawie van der Walt and Harry Higgs, all of whom finished their four days at 13 under. Harrington was the most scintillating player on Sunday, shooting a seven-under 65 as he rocketed up the leaderboard.

But the day belonged to Ledesma.

Ledesma hails from the same town in Argentina as Andres Romero, 10 years his senior, who has totaled 19 professional wins worldwide and owns top-15 finishes in all four majors. It is a point of pride for Ledesma, as he explained to the assembled press after Sunday’s final round.

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