MITCHELLVILLE, Md. -- Jeff Klauk made the putt when he absolutely had to have it. The 30-year-old Floridian toyed with the lead for most of four rounds at the Melwood Prince George's County Open before rolling in a 12-foot birdie putt on the closing hole that was worth not only a second career title but in all likelihood, his first trip to the PGA TOUR.
|Inside the Numbers|
|Klauk's Final Stats|
"I've had that putt a thousand times in my life," said Klauk of the winning stroke that resulted in a one-shot victory, his first since the 2003 Preferred Health Systems Wichita Open. "Right to left, just outside the hole. I just visualized it going in. It was probably the best putt I hit all week."
Klauk, one of four co-leaders to begin the day at The Country Club at Woodmore, broke free from a packed leaderboard in Sunday's final round with a 3-under-par 69. He finished it off with a terrific up-and-down for birdie from just in front of the hazard line behind the 18th green.
The putt got him to 12-under 276 and in front of Jeff Brehaut, who was holding the clubhouse lead at minus-11, and David Mathis, who was playing in the final group right behind Klauk at 11 under par. When Mathis, needing a birdie to tie, hooked his second-shot at the par-5 hole into the water near the green, Klauk's victory was secure.
Brehaut (67) and Mathis (70) tied for second. Scott Gutschewski (69), Craig Bowden (69) and Australian Greg Chalmers (70) shared fourth place, two shots back. Ricky Barnes (71) and Gary Christian (71) tied for seventh, three behind the winner.
"I was nervous, don't get me wrong," said Klauk, who is in his seventh season on the Nationwide Tour. "I've been working with my coach, Cody Barden, on keeping my mind quiet. Everybody knows out here you've got to really trust yourself and believe. I've been doing that this year, more so than any swing change.
"It's just believing in yourself and I finally started doing that. Everyone's told me 'you hit the ball well enough, you should be on the PGA TOUR.' I just hadn't proved it to myself."
The St. Augustine, Fla., resident will finally get his chance. He collected $117,000 for the win to push his season total to $221,433, which should give him enough cushion to secure a spot among 'The 25.' The top 25 money-winners at the end of the year will earn their PGA TOUR cards for 2009.
"It's been a dream my whole life," said Klauk, whose father recently retired as superintendent at TPC Sawgrass after 23 years. "Growing up around the TOUR and around Sawgrass, it's certainly a dream. My first year out here I was close but I don't think I was ready then.
"I guess it was supposed to happen that way. I feel like I'm much more prepared having played out here for so long. This is a great Tour and a great place to play."
Mathis, winner of the BMW Charity Pro-Am a week ago, jumped in front of Klauk to No. 1 on the money list with $223,679. Both players passed Darron Stiles, who took the week off. Chalmers, a winner last month at the Henrico County Open, moved over the $200,000 mark and into the No. 4 slot.
Klauk, the outright leader after each of the first two days, broke from the pack Sunday afternoon with three birdies in his first seven holes, hitting wedges to 10-15 feet and canning the putts that got him to 12 under par.
"I made my fair share this week," said Klauk, who tied for fourth in putting this week.
When he chipped in for birdie at No. 13 to get to 13 under, his lead was two strokes. A wayward tee shot at No. 16 cost him a bogey and then a sailed wedge at No. 17 resulted in another bogey and the lead was gone. Brehaut was done and hoping for a playoff.
"I knew on 18 before I hit my tee shot that I needed to make birdie," said Klauk, who went for the green in two at the 564-yard hole. "Thank goodness there is that rough behind the green because I just crushed it. It just went forever. It was a straightforward chip."
Final-Round Notes: Sunday's scoring average was 71.818. The four-day average was 72.619. ... Jeff Brehaut's tie for second finish is his best since he lost a playoff at the 1997 Wichita Open, a span of 287 starts (60 Nationwide Tour and 227 PGA TOUR). Brehaut has been a member of the PGA TOUR for the past eight years and his career-best finish was a third-place in 2005 at The International. ... Ricky Barnes tied for seventh this week, his third consecutive top-10 effort. Barnes jumped five spots on the money list to No. 20. Prior to this year, Barnes had never had back-to-back top-10s. ... Players who were bogey-free on Sunday: Jeff Brehaut (67), Brendan Steele (68), Craig Bowden (69) ... Bubba Dickerson had two eagles, on the par-4 third hole and the par-5 eighth hole.