After flying under the radar for the first three rounds, Caleb O’Toole went on a late run to capture the 2021 Daikin Spirit of America Golf Classic title.
The Pinson native shot 5-under Saturday, capitalizing when then-leader Sam Murphy began to struggle. O’Toole birdied eight holes in the final round, including three in a row on the back nine, as he overtook Murphy and held on to win.
Entering the fourth and final round, Decatur native Sam Murphy held a two-stroke lead at 6-under.
The Hartselle grad had held the top spot, or a share of the top spot, since the end of the second round.
Playing in the final pairing with Will Patrick and Matt Smith, the Louisiana Tech golfer continued his hot streak early Saturday. Murphy birdied the first and fourth holes, dropping to 8-under before running into some trouble to close out the front.
After bogeying the sixth, Murphy hit a ball out of bounds on the eighth. With a two-stroke penalty, Murphy double-bogeyed the hole and losing his stronghold on the lead.
“The first three days, I missed it left and I was like, ‘Alright, this one you need to hit the fairway.’ Pushed a little too hard you know, went out of bounds. I mean, it’s just -- it’s golf. It happens,” Murphy explained.
The back nine didn’t start any better, as Murphy bogeyed the tenth. All the while, O’Toole was catching fire. After shooting a 74 in the first round (three over), O’Toole turned things around -- following it up with a 66, 71 and 65.
Though it was his first win, O’Toole was on the bag for his brother John Michael O’Toole’s win in 2014.
“I feel like I learned something from caddying,” he said. “You know I try to get something every time I’m at a golf course and I learned a lot from my brother caddying and I just pretty much implemented that to this. I knew if I played good around here, I had a chance to win and that’s what I did.”
Here’s the final leaderboard:
1) Caleb O’Toole (-8)
2) Sam Murphy (-6)
3) Will Patrick (-5)
4) Matt Smith (-4)
T5) Owen Burt & Will McFadden (-3)