Six years of experience on the PGA Tour paid off for Mike Wynn today as he regained his composure after three straight three-putt greens, birdied the last hole and won the Middle Atlantic PGA championship.
Wynn, head pro at Evergreen Country Club in Haymarket, Va., rolled in a 24-foot putt from below the hole on the 18th green to break a three-way tie and finish the 54-hole tournament at Hobbit's Glen at one-under-par 215.
Hitting first into a stiff breeze on the 217-yard finishing hole, Wynn made the proper club selection, using a five-wood. His playing partner, Wheeler Stewart, 26, the head pro at Indian Spring, tried to force a three-iron shot. He pulled it left, had to wedge a shot over the trap and two-putted for a bogey to finish third at 217.
"I had one bad swing all day and it cost me," Stewart said. "Sure, I was thinking playoff. What are the odds of anybody making birdie on that hole?"
The bogey cost Stewart dearly in prize money, too. Wynn won $1,350, Stewart $630.
Larry Ringer, head pro at the Naval Academy, also was thinking about a playoff after shooting 69, low round of the tournament, for 216.
"I did what I had to do," Ringer said with a shrug after making three birdies and collecting $900. "I put a 69 on the board and made them beat it."
With Wynn and Stewart tied with Ringer at even par going into the last hole, a playoff seemed inevitable. Wynn's birdie changed all that.
"I was just trying to get the ball on the green, somehow," the short, slender Wynn said of his club selection. "Once I got on, I was just trying to get it close and it went in."
The law of averages finally evened out for Wynn, 37, who left putts short by inches on Nos. 10, 12 and 16. After hitting his second shot into a bunker on the first hole, Wynn didn't miss another green. But his unpredictable putting added drama to the tournament.
"I was charging then," Wynn said with a laugh, referring to three-putting Nos. 7, 8 and 9. "Then I started leaving it short."
Wynn began the round a stroke behind Stewart, but passed him with back-to-back birdies. He sank an eight-footer at No. 2, then hit a six-iron within a foot for a tap-in on the next hole.
Stewart pulled even on the par-3 fifth hole when he hit a five-iron 15 feet from the cup and made the putt. When Wynn was through three-putting, Stewart had a three-stroke lead at the turn.
He lost almost all of it with a double bogey at 10.
"I was in a drainage ditch in the left rough and should have asked for relief," Stewart said. "The grass had buried the ball and it grabbed the club. It hung up and I flew the green."
Wynn's 15-foot birdie putt at 11 tied them. Stewart regained the lead after his four-iron shot rolled within three feet at the 463-yard 13th hole, but Wynn came back with an eight-foot birdie putt at the par-5 14th. Both made pars until the final hole.