WINNIPEG, Manitoba )SportsTicker Jacksonville) – Hayden Springer used a birdie binge over his final nine holes on Sunday to break from the pack and run away to a three-shot victory at the CentrePort Canada Rail Park Manitoba Open, marking the first win of his Tour career that has seen him play in nearly 29 events since turning pro in 2019.
Springer, of Trophy Club, Texas, one of three co-leaders to start the final round, jumped into a tie for the lead with a birdie on the 12th hole, the first of four in a row that allowed him to pull away. Springer closed with a 6-under 66, matching the low round of the day, and finished at 21-under 267 at Southwood Golf and Country Club.
“It’s one of those things that can feel elusive, getting your first win,” Springer said. “You don’t know when exactly that’s going to happen. I feel like I’ve always believed it’s possible, so it’s pretty cool to get that done today.”
Canadian Etienne Papineau made a charge on Sunday and shot 67 to finish alone in second place at 18-under. American Sam Choi closed with a 69 and took solo third at 17-under. Tied for fourth at 16-under were Canadians Joey Savoie and Johnny Travale, who began the day tied for the lead and both shot 71, and China’s Charles Wang, who shot 69.
The victory moved Springer all the way up to No. 7 on the Fortinet Cup points list. Choi passed Davis Lamb to take the lead in the points race and Papineau moved into third place. The top-five finishers on the Fortinet Cup standings earn status on the 2024 Korn Ferry Tour.
The victory marked a return to form for Springer, who played collegiately at Texas Christian University. He had missed the cut in the previous event, the Windsor Championship, and had recorded only one other top-10 finish in his five events on PGA TOUR Canada this season.
“This year has been a little bit weird for me,” said Springer, who received an encouraging text from his father moments before the round began. “I feel like I kind of struggled early on. I had some Korn Ferry status and got some starts out there, but didn’t really take advantage of it. But I kind of got back to some stuff that I felt worked for me in the past.”
Springer began the week by making birdies on six of his first seven holes en route to shooting 66 on Thursday. But his second-round 65, recorded during cold, blustery conditions, may have been the key to his victory.
“I got off to a great start, played great on Friday in really tough conditions,” Springer said. “That kind of gave me a boost of confidence. I don’t know if there’s any one thing that’s really different, but it’s like a lot of people have said, just continue to plug away and keep going, keep playing tournaments. Then try to get it done and I was able to do that.”
Springer stumbled out of the gate on Sunday with a bogey on the difficult opening hole and didn’t make his first birdie until No. 5. A birdie at No. 9 kick-started his run to the finish and he made four-consecutive birdies, from No. 12 through No. 15, before finding the water at No. 16. He was able to get up and down for par there and followed that hiccup with a birdie on the par-3 17th hole. Springer was able to comfortably make a par on the last hole to secure the win.
“I feel like I learned a lot today,” Springer said. “I haven’t been in that position in the lead group in a while. So yesterday I felt a little bit more nervous, just kind of not really making confident swings, getting a little bit quick. So, it was good for me to have yesterday and manage to hang around and be tied for the lead and learn from it, knowing today was probably going to have some of the same feelings.”
Papineau, who began the day two shots behind, got in the hunt and made three birdies over his final six holes, but it wasn’t enough. Choi, who began the day one shot off the lead, charged into contention with three-straight birdies from No. 13-15. But a bogey on the 18th hole doused any hopes of a victory.
Springer, 26, got emotional at the awards ceremony when he spoke about the support of his family. His wife, Emma, played college golf, and the couple has two young daughters.
“My wife being willing to take care of two kids at home and have sleepless nights, and she’s still working full-time,” Springer said. “And for me to be gone 20-25 weeks out of the year. There’s a lot of unknowns in the position that we’re in on the developmental tours and mini-tours, playing Mondays. There’s no guarantee. It’s everything for me to do that and we’ll get to celebrate.”