RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. (AP) — Wales’ Richard Johnson won his third career Nationwide Tour title Sunday to lock up a spot next year on the PGA Tour, winning a three-man playoff in the Mark Christopher Charity Classic.
Johnson closed with a 4-under 67 to match Matthew Jones and Jeremy Anderson at 11-under 273, then won with a birdie on the first extra hole. Jones and Anderson finished with 66s on the Empire Lakes Golf Club course.
After Jones and Anderson hit into the greenside water hazard in the playoff, Johnson chipped to 2 feet to set up his winning birdie putt.
“This feels really good,” Johnson said. “It isn’t necessarily a monkey off of my back because I’ve won before. But it is nice to win again. It was the first playoff of my career, so to win one of these is good too.”
Johnson, the 35-year-old former Augusta State player who also won events in 1999 and 2000, earned $94,500 to jump from 12th to fourth on the money list with $305,921. The top 25 after the final four events of the season will earn 2008 PGA Tour cards.
“I was pretty much a lock before this week but this definitely seals the deal,” Johnson said. “Moving higher on the money list will help me plan my schedule a little better next year. Everyone has a lifetime dream of playing on the PGA Tour and I can’t wait to fulfill mine next year.”
After opening with a double bogey, Johnson birdied Nos. 5 and 8 to make the turn at even par. He made four straight birdies on Nos. 13-16 and parred 17 and 18.
“I got off to an awful start with just nothing going right,” said Johnson, who hit only three of 14 fairways in regulation. “I was missing fairways by a foot on every hole it seemed. I was just plodding along and then I went crazy.”
Johnson, who once ran the Waffle House restaurant on Washington Road during the 1997 Masters, credited caddie Mike Harwood.
“My caddie has a flat line for a heartbeat,” Johnson said. “After the double bogey, he said we still have 17 holes to go. That helped calm me down and I played really good golf the rest of the way.”
Tommy Tolles (66) finished third at 10 under, and third-round leader Tom Gillis (70) was 9 under along with Brad Adamonis (66), Brian Smock (67) and Keoke Cotner (68).