Rafael Gomez stumbled home with a four-over-par 76, but hung on to win the Canadian Tour’s $100,000 (U.S) Iberostar Riviera Maya Open by one stroke over Antonio Maldonado who closed with a 71 at Riviera Maya, Mexico.
Gomez, who started the day with a six-shot lead, double bogeyed the final hole to finish the tournament at 12-under-par 276.
Scott Gibson fired a two under par 70 to grab solo third at eight-under 280, one ahead of American John Douma who had a 69.
“This is a big win for me and a real confidence booster going into Q-school,” said Gomez, who took home $16,000 and his second Canadian Tour title of the season. “It was difficult to start with such a big lead. I have had big leads to start last rounds before, but not this big.”
Gomez staggered out of the gate with back-to-back bogeys, but with Maldonado bogeying the second, the lead was still five. Gomez birdied four and five, but stumbled again with bogeys at eight and nine, cutting the lead to four at the turn.
Maldonado then sliced the lead to three with a birdie at ten but it jumped to five with a Gomez birdie and Maldonado bogey at No. 13.
“I played conservatively all day and even though Antonio was getting a bit closer in the middle of the round, I wasn’t too worried,” said Gomez. “He was the one who had to get aggressive, not me.”
Having bogeyed No. 15, Gomez arrived at the 18th tee with a four-stroke lead and what appeared certain victory. However, he and Maldonado had to endure a lengthy delay on the tee with two groups ahead of them.
“I just wanted to hurry up and finish and I got anxious,” said Gomez. “I lost my concentration and pushed my tee shot way right into the mulch. I had to take a penalty drop from there, but I wasn’t worried because I still had a big lead.”
Gomez advanced the ball back onto the fairway and then hit what he called an incredible shot to 15 feet from the pin.
Although Maldonado birdied to put some pressure on Gomez, he would not be denied, calmly two-putting for the victory.
“I’ve been playing very good golf all year and to do this right before qualifying school is very important,” he concluded.