Wheeler Stewart of Indian Spring finished birdie-par-birdie on Golden Horseshoe's demanding finishing holes and shot 72--219 for a one-shot victory in the U.S. Air/Middle Atlantic PGA Championship today. He won $2,400 and an exemption to next year's area PGA tournaments, the Kemper, Anheuser-Busch and Greater Baltimore.
Stewart also won two sets of airline tickets, for winning the tournament and for hitting his tee shot closest to the hole on the par-3 16th, an island green. Stewart's eight-iron tee shot there was 4 feet 11 inches from the cup and he made birdie. He parred the 17th hole and then on the 441-yard dogleg finisher, he hit a long drive, wedged to the green and sank a 20-foot putt for winning birdie. Stewart performed a victory dance while several groups were still being humbled by the tight Robert Trent Jones course laced with woods and water.
Mark Alwin of Eaglehead birdied the final hole from 20 feet and finished second at 74--220, followed by Luther Showaker of Leisure World (74) and Clem King of Charlottesville (74), tied at 221.
King needed birdie on the final hole to tie Stewart, but hooked his approach shot into water and took bogey.
Stewart started the day five shots behind second-round leader Mike McGinnis and double bogeyed the first hole after he drove into bushes.
"That was a great letdown," Stewart said. "I knew I had an uphill battle after that."
Stewart bogeyed at four and five and then played the last 13 holes "as good as I can play.
"This is the most demanding golf course I've ever played. Every shot is tough," said Stewart, 32, who played at University of Alabama with PGA Tour star Jerry Pate, and won the Maryland Open in 1979.
McGinnis of Holly Hills, who led by one shot over Rick Hughes heading into to the final round, opened with bogey-double bogey and added a another front-nine double bogey and finished with 84. Hughes fell out of the chase by three-putting the fifth hole for double bogey and finished with 80.
The lead was seized by the University of Virginia's golf coach, King, who shot a two-under-par 34 on the front nine to pass the stumbling leaders. But King struggled with his putter, missing four-foot putts on the 14th and 15th holes, and suffered five back-nine bogeys.