DULUTH — When the final round of the LOCALiQ Series began, David Pastore trailed Trace Crowe by a shot.
Early in his back nine, Pastore had stormed ahead by four shots and looked to be cruising. By the end of the day, all he could do was watch to see if there would be a playoff. When Crowe missed a 12-foot birdie putt that would have left the two tied, Pastore had the title that had eluded him all season, capturing the season-ending LOCALiQ Series Championship at TPC Sugarloaf by the narrowest of margins.
The win pushed Pastore into the second spot on the season-long points list, and he earned a playing spot in the PGA TOUR’s 2021 Barbasol Championship by virtue of his victory. Crowe, a non-International Tour member, had a runner-up finish and a tie for fourth in only three Series starts.
After congratulating Crowe, Pastore walked off the 18th green at TPC Sugarloaf could only smile. “I was expecting him to make it, to have to play more golf,” Pastore said of watching Crowe’s effort. “He hit a great putt, but it just slid right by the hole, and obviously I was very happy.”
“It was about 12 feet,” said Crowe of his 18th-hole birdie putt. “I was playing it about a foot or so outside (the cup). I hit it perfect, and I think it just snapped a little bit harder. But two feet out, I thought it was dead center. It just broke off and buried on the left side.”
Moments earlier, Pastore had a chance to make Crowe’s putt moot, but Pastore’s birdie effort from 18 feet didn’t quite get to the hole. “It was a nice makeable putt. I hit it right on my line and [it] just came up a little bit short, so obviously it would’ve been nice to make it,” Pastore said. “But two putts were good enough.”
The back and forth on No. 18 typified the duo’s battle all day. Crowe opened a two-shot lead early before a double bogey at the par-4 fifth knocked him back and giving Pastore his first lead—an advantage he ultimately never gave up. A turning point in the round came at No. 9. Although Crowe hit a solid drive, his ball nestled against the lip of a fairway bunker, forcing Crowe into an awkward stance. His second-shot approach on the par-4 flew to the left, well short of the green. After getting on the green in three, he missed his par putt and did well to only bogey, making an eight-foot comebacker.
“It was kind of an unfortunate break there, especially since I had just come off a birdie at the eighth,” Crowe explained of his ninth-hole adventure.
Pastore went up by four on No. 10 when he parred to Crowe’s second consecutive bogey, but he gave a stroke right back with a bogey at 11. Crowe got back into the fray with an eagle at No. 13 when he drove the par-4 green and drained a 14-footer. That cut Pastore’s margin to one, but that’s as close as he could get. Both players finished with five consecutive pars.
“I really tried to just not force anything. I tried to stay patient, because I knew I still had the lead, and Trace had to come get me,” Pastore continued.
Pastore smiled when he thought of the ups and downs of this year, especially when he wasn’t sure he even would have a place to play once the International Tours either canceled or postponed their seasons. Pastore jumped at the chance to play in the LOCALiQ Series but admitted the year-end rewards were a bit intimidating as he prepared to play.
“At first, only three (PGA TOUR playing) exemptions was a little daunting because you basically had to be one of the three best players,” he explained. “But obviously, I’m extremely happy to be one of those three now and to finish off the season with a win.”