Tom Pernice Jr. sailed past a faltering Tom Lehman with a final-round 65 today to win the Buick Open. It was his first PGA Tour victory.
"Obviously, it really hasn't hit me," said Pernice, who made more money with the win than in the first 16 years of his professional golf career. "The key was relaxing and avoiding looking at the leader board. I never had the wildest idea I would win today."
The bogey-free final round brought Pernice in at 18-under 270. Lehman finished a stroke back after a final-round 71. Lehman tied with Bob Tway, who also shot a 65, and Ted Tryba, who made seven straight birdies on the back nine to finish in 66.
Pernice continued a tradition of first-time winners at the Buick, becoming the 12th player to earn his first victory at the 7,105-yard Warwick Hills Golf and Country Club. He opened with a 2-under 34 on the front nine and parred the first three holes of the back nine. Then, on the 13th, Pernice reached the par 5 in two with a 7-iron and putted in a 17-foot eagle.
Pernice followed with a birdie on the 14th, where he nearly drove the green, then chipped close. He made birdie putts of 33 and 13 feet on Nos. 16 and 17 before finishing with a sand-save par on the last hole.
Lehman, who began the round with a four-shot lead, played two of the easiest holes on the course in bogey-par on the back nine and missed birdie putts on the last two holes. Making either one would have gotten him into a playoff; both would have won the tournament outright.
It was Lehman's fourth second-place finish this year, and he remains winless in the United States dating from 1996.
The biggest missed opportunity for Lehman came on the par-5 13th, which played like a par 4 for most players with the tees up and the wind following.
Lehman drove the ball behind a huge oak tree and hit his second shot into a bunker. Then he thinned his sand wedge shot over the green and into a water hazard--one of the few on the course. He dropped on the fringe and two-putted for bogey, losing three shots on that hole to Pernice.
"I felt like I've played some awfully good golf on Sunday and nothing to show for it," Lehman said.