Bob Bilbo of host Germantown Country Club survived four back-nine bogeys and birdied the final hole for a one-under par 69 to lead four Middle Atlantic PGA qualifiers into the Kemper Open golf tournament. The $400,000 PGA tour event will be held May 28-31 at Congressional Country Club.
Woody FitzHugh (71) of Great Falls, Va., Greg Overton (71) of Shannon Green and Fred Gibson (73) of Fort Meade earned the other three spots.
Bilbo, a former union steam fitter, earned his second consecutive trip to the Kemper. Last year he missed the cut by two strokes. His goal this time is to play four rounds.
"It's like a dream come true to play with those pros, it's like playing in the big leagues," he said. "I'm excited about being there. I was lucky all day. I made a lot of putts."
Bilbo made several lengthy putts on Germantown's slick, undulating greens, made even more treacherous by difficult pin placements. Bilbo made birdie putts of 35 feet on No. 1, 25 feet on No. 8, eight feet on No. 9, a foot at No. 11 and five feet on the par-4 finishing hole after striking a beautiful eight-iron approach shot.
Perhaps the most important putt Bilbo made all day was for a bogey on the par-5 14th hole. He had hit his third shot into a bunker next to the green. On a surface of clay mixed with sand, afraid of sculling the ball over the green, he hit to far behind it and failed to escape from the bunker. But he then blasted eight feet from the hole and was glad to have the bogey after he sank the putt.
FitzHugh also spent some anxious moments on the wooded back nine. After three front-nine birdies and a 31, FitzHugh, who spent last year on the PGA tour, bogeyed four of five holes before finishing with a solid drive-and-wedge par at 18.
Overton birdied two holes on the front nine and birdied his final hole. Gibson also qualified for his second straight Kemper. The former Germantown assistant appeared to let his chances slip away after taking double bogey from a trap next to the green at 17, but Gibson, winner of the Captial City Open Sunday, wedged to 12 feet and made birdie at 18 to avoid a playoff for the final spot.