BROUSSARD, La. -- Bubba Dickerson rolled in a 14-foot birdie putt on the first playoff hole Sunday to defeat Brian Vranesh and win the Chitimacha Louisiana Open, the first domestic stop on the 2009 Nationwide Tour schedule. The title is the first significant one for Dickerson since he hoisted a trophy after the 2001 U.S. Amateur Championship.
"It's been a long time coming," said Dickerson, who pocketed $99,000 for his first Tour title. "It keeps building. Every day. Every week. It gets tougher to win. We all know it. There are so many good players out here. I always felt like if I could keep putting myself in position to win, I'd eventually get there."
|Inside the Numbers|
Dickerson got there with a final-round 70 at the Le Triomphe Country Club course to finish at 10-under 274 and tied with Vranesh, a conditional member on the PGA TOUR. Vranesh emerged from a crowded leaderboard with a 5-under 66 to grab the clubhouse lead nearly an hour and a half before Dickerson, who was in the final pairing, finished his round.
Vranesh, who admitted that at this point a year ago, he probably would have been waiting tables at a restaurant near his home in Scottsdale, Ariz., could do nothing Sunday but wait and see if anyone could tie or better his mark.
In the interim, several challengers fell by the wayside as the final round unfolded, as they either failed to capitalize on opportunities or made late mistakes. Six players eventually tied for third at 9-under 275, one behind. Six more were packed together at 8 under and two back.
Matt Bettencourt and Vance Veazey both three-putted the final hole to drop to 9 under. Bettencourt, last year's leading money winner on Tour, had the first chance to post a double-digit score, finishing nearly two hours in front of Vranesh. Veazey, winner of the Panama Digicel Championship, was in the next-to-last group and missed a 3-footer for par to lose his bid for a second title in 2009.
In between, Matthew Borchert bogeyed the closing 18th to drop to out a potential playoff.
That left it up to Dickerson, who started the day tied for the lead with LSU grad Scott Sterling but had fallen three off the pace after bogeys at Nos. 9 and 10.
"It seemed like I just couldn't get anything going," said Dickerson, who had his father, Robert, caddying for him this week. "It all turned on No. 12. That was the biggest turning point. I decided right there that we were either going to get into the tournament or we weren't. My dad was the one who kept my pedal down on my driver. When I wanted to go with something else, he said 'No, no, no. Here's your best club,' and he handed me my driver."
The former Florida Gator belted driver and 5-wood to 4 feet on the par-5 12th and holed the putt for an eagle-3, vaulting him back into contention. Dickerson was steady over the next four holes before he stuffed a wedge to 8 feet on No. 17 and made birdie to tie for the lead.
When Dickerson two-putted the final hole from 30 feet for par, the tournament's third playoff in 18 years was set.
"For some reason I'm more confident when I get in that match-play situation," said Dickerson, who also won the 2001 Western Amateur in match play and finished runner-up at the 2000 U.S. Public Links Championship in match play.
Dickerson's 7-iron at the 441-yard hole stopped 14 feet behind the flag on the first hole of sudde death. Vranesh followed and got within 12 feet for birdie.
"I felt like whoever could put the ball in the hole first was going to win," said Dickerson. "I was happy I got to go first. You always want to go first when it's sudden death."
Dickerson's putt found the bottom of the cup and forced Vranesh to make his to extend the day. When the ball stayed high and slid past the cup, Dickerson's long wait was over.
Final-Round Notes: Jim Gallagher, Jr. was the first man off the tee and played as a single. Gallagher shot a 5-over 76 and completed his round in 2:30. ... Sunday's scoring average was 70.600. ... The Nationwide Tour moves to California next week for the Stonebrae Classic at TPC San Francisco.