ATHENS, Ga. (AP) — PGA Tour player Patrick Sheehan holed a 22-foot birdie putt from the fringe to beat Australia’s Michael Sim on the first hole of a playoff in the Nationwide Tour’s Athens Regional Foundation Classic.
The 39-year-old Sheehan, a former University of Hartford player from Rhode Island, closed with a 4-under 68 to match Sim (63) at 14-under 274 on the Jennings Mill Country Club course. Sheehan earned $99,000 for his second career Nationwide Tour win.
After Sim – coming off a victory two weeks ago in the Stonebrae Classic in Hayward, Calif. – hit a 2-iron down the middle of the fairway in the playoff on the par-5 18th, Sheehan pushed his drive right and it bounced off a cart path and into wet rough.
“The lie was decent, but my stance was in a puddle of water. The rules official said I was entitled to take relief, but where I would have had to drop was in a worse spot, so I decided just to play it,” Sheehan said. “I also couldn’t hit too much club because there was a mound in front of me.”
Sim laid up perfectly to 75 yards with an ideal angle to the pin, while Sheehan was still 140 yards out with a difficult approach over the water and a greenside bunker.
Sheehan’s shot with a 9-iron drifted right and ended up just a few inches off the green, 22 feet from the hole.
Sim played a low spinning sand wedge that looked as if it would hit the slight ridge in the middle of the green and release to the back left pin. But the ball landed softly, stopping some 40 feet from the hole.
“I thought that shot was perfect,” Sim said. “It hit an old pitch mark and didn’t release.”
After Sim rolled his putt 2 feet past, Sheehan – who has played five full seasons on the PGA Tour since 2003 with over $3.8 million in earnings – made the 22-footer.
Sim started the day tied for 19th, seven shots off the lead. Seven birdies and an eagle later, he had a share of the course record and sole possession of the lead.
“I saw him at 14 under and kept wondering what he could have shot,” Sheehan said.
Sheehan, also the winner of the 2002 Price Cutter Charity Championship, was 13 under through 11 holes when Sim finished, then birdied the 12th take a share of the lead. Sheehan bogeyed the 13th and missed a 5-footer for par on the 15th to fall two shots back with three to play.
But Sheehan made an unlikely 3 on the par-4 16th, the second-toughest hole on the course. After a par on the 17th, Sheehan hit his approach to 8 feet on 18 to set up his tying birdie.
“I couldn’t see it, but heard the roar and knew there was going to be a playoff,” said Sim, who was less than 100 yards away on the practice tee.
Darron Stiles (66) finished a stroke back at 13 under, and Garth Mulroy (65), John Riegger (66), Daniel Summerhays (69), third-round leader Bob Burns (73) and Rich Barcelo (71) followed at 11 under.