Lunde captures Nationwide Children's Hospital Invitational by a shot
Taking a break from golf when you really love the game can be difficult, but for Bill Lunde, a year off in 2006 gave him the desire to come back and play again. Now he is a first-time winner on the Nationwide Tour with a one-stroke victory over Dustin Bray in the Nationwide Children's Hospital Invitational.
Lunde shot 67-72-67-73--279 Sunday for a 5-under-par total. The $l35,000 winner's check jumped him to seventh on the money list and almost assures him of a PGA TOUR card for next season. Bray's final-round 69 earned him a runner-up finish and a start at next week's Cox Classic in Omaha. More importantly, Bray advanced 105 spots on the money list to 45th.
Tommy Tolles (69), Skip Kendall (71) and Brendon De Jonge (73) tied for third at 3-under 281. Seven players shared sixth position, including Josh Broadaway (75) and leading amateur Sihwan Kim (69).
Lunde started shakily with a double bogey at the second hole, but steadied the ship with birdies at holes 4 and 12, both par 5s. Two late bogeys at the 15th and 16th holes looked to have killed his chances.
Needing a birdie at the final hole to claim victory -- with Bray already in the clubhouse at 4-uder-par 280 -- Lunde hit his 150-yard approach to the final hole just off the left side of the green.
Broadaway, playing in the final group with Lunde, then holed his approach from the same distance for eagle on the 439-yard par 4. Broadaway had just double bogeyed the 17th hole to lose any chance of victory.
As the crowd recovered from Broadaway's slam-dunk, Lunde chipped in from 30 feet to send the crowd into another frenzy and claim victory.
"Between Josh holing from the fairway like he did, and me chipping in, that was a pretty cool finish. Awesome," said Lunde. "He chipped in three times yesterday when we played together so I guess it was my turn. The time I took away from golf gave me a new perspective on working, and how fortunate we are to play golf for a living. It's a special thing we get to do so I appreciate it a lot more than I used to."
Lunde, a UNLV graduate and neighbor of PGA TOUR player Charley Hoffman, got a text message from Hoffman last night.
"Charley is to the point," he said. "It didn't surprise me. I just laughed at it. It just said 'Get it done'."
Bray was the 10th alternate before the tournament began and considered going to a Tar Heel Tour event, but when he discovered he had forgotten to register for that event he came to Columbus instead. A poor tee shot at the par-3 17th hole led to his first bogey of the day. When he missed a 12-footer on the last for birdie, Bray had to sit and wait. Then the fireworks happened.
"Call it fate or whatever you like," said Bray. "I'm not going to say that I've had a lot of bad breaks in the last year and a half, but I was just looking for that good bounce, and I felt like getting into this event was my good bounce."
Kim recorded the best finish of the seven All-American sponsor invitees with his tie for sixth in his first professional event. After an even-par front nine, Kim birdied the 10th and made eagle at the 12th when he holed a 25-foot chip from just off the green. A bogey at No. 13 dropped him back to 2 under where he eventually finished.
Kim came to the United States from South Korea in 2000 and was the second Stanford freshman to be named first-team All-American -- the first was Tiger Woods.
"I tried really hard to prepare for college golf because I saw a lot of guys fading away after they get into college," he said. "I learned from Coach (Conrad) Ray, who used to play on the Nationwide Tour, about game management and the mental game also."
The three other amateurs in the weekend field, Rickie Fowler (72), Rory Hie (74), and Jamie Lovemark (76) finished tied for 40th, tied for 45th and 69th, respectively. Final-Round News & Notes: John Cook, the Honorary Chairman of the Nationwide Children's Hospital Invitational, was defeated by Bruce Vaughan on the first playoff hole at the British Senior Open at Royal Troon Sunday. Cook's son, Jason, played here on a sponsor invitation but missed the cut by five strokes (74-76). Vaughan, a former Nationwide Tour multiple winner (1994 Permian Basin Open, Pensacola Classic), earned his first Champions Tour title with the win. ... John Turcott (69) recorded the only bogey-free round. ... The scoring average for the final round was 73.026 while the average for the week was 72.649. ... The most difficult hole for the week was the par-4 14th hole with a scoring average of 4.398, while the easiest hole for the week was the par-5 12th, which averaged 4.609. ... Scott Piercy, a Nationwide Tour rookie who won $2 million at the 2005 Ultimate Game in Las Vegas, assumed he had missed the cut at 3 over par on Friday. Flying home, he stopped in Chicago and discovered, via text message, he had made the cut. Piercy returned and shot 71-72 on the weekend to finish tied for 45th and earn $2,835. ... Nationwide Tour money leader Jarrod Lyle (76) finished tied for 60th. ... The Nationwide Tour heads to Omaha, Neb., for the Cox Classic presented by Chevrolet, where Roland Thatcher defeated Jason Day by one stroke. The $117,000 winner's check he received gave him a commanding $100,249 lead over the second-ranked Day. That represented the largest margin in the season's first 20 weeks in Tour history. Thatcher stayed on top until the last event of the year, when Richard Johnson claimed the top spot.