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images/andrew-putnam.jpg
Putnam clinches first TOUR win at Barracuda Championship

RENO, Nev. – The next time Andrew Putnam takes his annual family trip to Maui, it will be a working vacation. He’ll hope it’s as productive as the vacation he had this week. Spending the week with his wife and his parents at nearby Incline Village off the north shore of Lake Tahoe, Putnam used the stress-free environment to his advantage.

On Sunday, he put the finishing touches on his first PGA TOUR win, a 9-point round under the Modified Stableford system to win the Barracuda Championship with 47 points. He did it in style, draining a 23-foot birdie putt from the fringe at the par-5 18th to win by four points over Chad Campbell.

Among the many perks that come with winning a PGA TOUR event is a guaranteed spot in the Sentry Tournament of Champions the first week of January in Maui. The location is familiar for Putnam, but his schedule will be slightly different that week.

“Our family, we vacation there every year pretty much for my whole life,” Putnam said. “And I’ve always gone out there and seen friends play in those tournaments and dreamed of going there. “That was one thing that really stuck out when I made that putt – that I was going to be going to Maui one week earlier than I had planned.”

Seeing Putnam break through with his first win shouldn’t be a surprise. Two months ago, he shared the 54-hole lead at the FedEx St. Jude Classic with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

While DJ rolled to victory that Sunday, Putnam’s final-round 72 was not as bad as it seemed.

“Playing against the No. 1 player in the world, and he’s pretty good at what he does,” Putnam said. “Feel like if I was on my game, I could’ve given him a good run. I’m just thankful to be able to have those experiences and grow from them.” His confidence continued to grow in the ensuing weeks. Then while game-planning for Barracuda, Putnam and his team knew he needed to be more aggressive. Normally he likes courses where par is a premium, but in this Modified Stableford event, Putnam wanted to test himself by finding another gear. Result: 24 birdies this week, which tied for most by any player in the field.

“He had mentioned that let’s maybe be a little bit more aggressive,” said his caddie Brandon Winton. “I said, OK, let’s go. I’m in on that. He can be aggressive when he wants to be.” Meanwhile, his off-the-course set-up with his family this week couldn’t have been more relaxed. It allowed him to recharge even during a tournament week.

On Saturday night, one of his friends flew into town. Led by his wife Tawny, the entourage cheered his every winning move on Sunday.

“He’s got a nice off-the-course life, which I think has a reflection of what happens on the golf course,” Winton said.

Next week, Andrew and Tawny will celebrate their first anniversary. It’ll need to happen in St. Louis, as Andrew guaranteed himself a spot in the PGA Championship. Then the FedExCup Playoffs will start soon, and his stay could last awhile – he moved up to 31st in the standings with Sunday’s win, essentially guaranteeing starts in the first three events, with an eye toward making the top-30 TOUR Championship. Of course, he’s also now fully exempt on TOUR for the next two seasons.

“A dream week for me,” Putnam said, trying to wrap his head around the spoils of his victory. Things will be a little different now for Putnam, but one thing will remain – that trip to Maui in January. He’ll just need to add an extra week to it.