PANAMA CITY (AP) — Vance Veazey won the season-opening Panama Championship on Sunday for his fourth career Nationwide Tour victory, beating Garrett Willis with a two-putt par on the second hole of a playoff.
The 43-year-old Veazey, also the 2005 winner at Panama Golf Club, birdied the par-4 18th in regulation to join Willis (66) at 7-under 273. Willis also closed with a birdie, his fourth in the last six holes of regulation.
“I love Panama,” said Veazey, the only player in the field with four straight rounds in the 60s. “The people are great. The support is great. The course is great. I love everything about it and wish I could play 20 tournaments here.”
Veazey and Willis opened the playoff with pars on 18, then moved to the par-4 10th. Veazey hit a perfect drive down the center of the fairway, while Willis’ drive drifted right into the first cut of rough.
Willis’ 8-iron from 168 yards bounced over the green and stopped 30 yards from the hole. Veazey’s second found the middle of the green, about 20 feet from the hole. After taking two strokes to get to the green, Willis had a 6-foot putt for a bogey 5, when Veazey ended the playoff with his two-putt par.
In regulation, Veazey bogeyed 14 to fall a stroke behind Willis, then hit a 54-degree wedge from 116 yards to 8 feet to set up his tying birdie on 18.
“I didn’t realize that I was behind by a stroke until I got to the 17th hole and realized I had to make birdie to have a chance to win,” Veazey said. “Coincidentally, I was in the same situation on the same hole in final round when I won here in 2005.”
The former Mississippi player earned $108,000. He opened with rounds of 67, 69 and 68.
Jeff Gove (70) finished third, two strokes back. Henrik Bjornstad (69) and Jim Herman (71) followed at 4 under.