Although he had led the Ben Hogan Utah Classic right from the opening bell, it wasn't until he hit his 8-iron approach to the final green Sunday that Jeff Woodland could finally say to himself, "You've got your card."
With his 3-shot victory over David Jackson and Brian Kamm, Woodland earned the $25,000 first prize and vaulted from 10th to 5th place on the Hogan money list. That all but assured him his PGA card because the top 10 finishers on the Hogan money list will earn their cards, exempting them into most PGA tournaments for the 1993 season."It's a load off my shoulders," said the 35-year-old Australian, who decided to try for his card by way of the Hogan Tour on the advice of fellow Aussie Ian Baker-Finch.
Woodland now has $94,719 in earnings for the year with only three tournaments left and is well ahead of 10th-place Taylor Smith ($71,285). By winning, he becomes only the second wire-to-wire winner on the Hogan Tour this year.
At the start of Sunday's round, Woodland had a host of golfers nipping at his heels. Two golfers were a stroke back, two more were two back and four more were three strokes back. In all, 19 golfers were within five shots of Woodland.
But he started quickly with birdies at 1 and 2 by sinking putts from 15 and 10 feet. He built a 4-shot lead by making birdies at the 5th and 10th holes to go to 13-under.
It looked like a yawner of a finish until Jackson went crazy, making seven straight 3s between holes 8 and 14. The 3 at 13 was an eagle chip-in from 20 yards and when he birdied 14, he suddenly stood 12-under.
Then when Woodland bogeyed No. 12 at about the same time, boom, just like that, there was a tie for the lead between Woodland and Jackson. However, while the scoreboard-watchers got excited, neither Woodland nor Jackson was even aware of the brief tie until told about it later.
"It would have put a little pressure on me, but I still would have played the same way as I did," said Woodland.
Thanks to birdies at 13 and 14 with 12-footers, Woodland went back ahead by two shots. Meanwhile, Jackson missed putts from the 10-foot range at 15 and 16 and then bogeyed 17 to fall out of contention.
"I didn't know I was tied for the lead," said Jackson. "I had a bad drive at 15 and that hurt me because I can reach that hole in two."
Kamm, who started the day one shot back, never got rolling until it was too late when he birdied 15 and 17. Both players earned $12,187.50 as Jackson moved up to third on the money list while Kamm improved to 7th.
Andrew Morse fired the best round of the day with a 65 to finish in a tie for 4th with Dave Sutherland at 206.
Provo's Steve Brodie, who started the day just three strokes off the lead, never contended after a couple of early bogeys and finished with a 74 at 212 in a tie for 23rd place.
Sandy's Steve Schneiter, the other local golfer who survived the cut, shot a 75 Sunday to finish at 219 in a tie for 61st place.
Defending champion Ted Tryba fired his third straight 72 to finish in a tie for 54th at 216. Tryba is another likely PGA player next year as he stands just $406 behind Woodland on the money list.
Woodland plans to play the last three Hogan events and try to hold onto his top-five position because the top five Hogan finishers will have advantage in getting into more PGA events than the 6-through-10 finishers.
"That's been my goal all along," said Woodland about making the top five. Until the PGA changed its policy earlier this month, only the top five Hogan players earned their PGA cards.
Ironically, the same day Woodland earned his PGA card, the initial Utah Classic winner, John Daly, won the B.C. Open on the PGA Tour.