BROUSSARD, La. -- For the fourth time in his career, Gavin Coles claimed top honors on the Nationwide Tour with his win Sunday at the $525,000 Chitimacha Louisiana Open presented by Dynamic Industries.
Coles, a 39-year-old native of New South Wales, Australia, entered the day with a one-stroke lead and then withstood a charge from several current PGA TOUR members to capture the Tour's first domestic event of the season. A 1-under 70 moved Coles to 12-under 272, good enough to clip a pair of 2007 Nationwide Tour graduates -- Kyle Thompson (65) by one stroke and Michael Letzig (64) by two shots. Letzig was joined in a tie for third place by Brendon de Jonge (67) and Greg Owen (68).
"It was tough out there," said Coles. "You've got to control your golf ball when it's firm and fast like this ... and that's the way I like it."
A 15th-place finish at last week's Puerto Rico Open had Coles brimming with confidence this week at the par-71 Le Triomphe Country Club.
"I have been playing well, so I knew it was just a matter of time," said Coles. "I feel like I'm hitting it as well as I ever have. I'm enjoying this journey I'm on."
Coles has been saying all week that all he wanted was to walk to the 10th tee on Sunday with a chance to win the golf tournament. He did just that -- despite a topsy-turvy front nine that included three birdies, two bogeys and four pars -- as he parred the ninth hole and held a two-stroke lead over his nearest competitors. That par was the first of 10 consecutive to end the tournament for Coles.
"I walked on the 10th tee, and I knew I wasn't playing that good," said Coles, who hit just nine of 18 greens in regulation. "I knew I needed to suck it up. I just had to play the best nine holes that I could to get the job done. I'm just glad no one was making birdies because I wasn't making many of them either."
Coles credited a tip from his coach -- eight months ago -- for his improved chipping on Sunday.
"Two hours before my tee time, I was out here working on my chipping," said Coles. "I found a little something this morning that my coach tried to tell me eight months ago. It took that long to get it through my thick skull."
With the exception of the 2000 season, Coles has now won a Tour event in each even-numbered year this decade and has subsequently graduated to the PGA TOUR each of those seasons. Should he do so again in 2008, he'll become the first player to graduate from the Tour four times in a career. He's well on his way to doing that, collecting $94,500 on Sunday for the victory and rising all the way to No. 6 on the money list.
"I have conditional status on the PGA TOUR, so we'll see what happens," said Coles, who finished No. 147 on the TOUR money list in 2007. "This is a good start this early in the year ... to be able to get back to the PGA TOUR (full-time). I haven't sat down and thought about where I'm going to play."
Coles is the third Australian to win this season, joining Mexico Open winner Jarrod Lyle and Moonah Classic champion Ewan Porter. His win is the 34th (by 22 players) by an Aussie throughout the 19-year history of the Nationwide Tour -- both Tour highs among international players.
Gavin Coles' Wins on the Nationwide Tour: • 2002 Jacob's Creek Open Championship • 2004 New Zealand PGA Championship • 2006 Legend Financial Group Classic • 2008 Chitimacha Louisiana Open
Final Round News & Notes: The beginning of the final round was delayed for one hour and 15 minutes due to thunderstorms in the area ... It was quite a week for Daniel Summerhays, who finished tied for 15th after a final-round 2-over 73. Summerhays became the Tour's first amateur winner with his win at the 2007 Nationwide Children's Hospital Invitational, and, earlier this week, (Friday) he and his wife, Emily, celebrated the birth of their first child ... The shot of the day was turned in by Garrett Osborn with a hole-in-one on the par-3 sixth hole, with a 7-iron from 197 yards. It was the second ace of the week (Paul Claxton, first round, No. 3) ... Speaking of Claxton, the 2001 Chitimacha Louisiana Open winner was the only past champion to make the cut this week, finishing in a tie for 37th place ... The cumulative scoring average at the par-71 Le Triomphe Country Club was 72.012. The toughest hole this week was the par-4 14th hole (4.443), while the par-5 seventh hole played the easiest at 4.509 ... The Nationwide Tour heads to California this week for the Livermore Valley Wine Country Championship at Wente Vineyards, the sixth of 30 events this season.