COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- Tommy Gainey fired a final-round 65 at the University of Maryland golf course and emerged from a packed leaderboard to win the Melwood Prince George's County Open, his first career title on the Nationwide Tour. Gainey two-putted the final hole for birdie, rolling in a 3-footer, to finish at 17-under-par 267 and win by one over Frank Lickliter II and Jin Park.
"It's unbelievable. I don't know any other way to describe it," said Gainey. "This is one step in getting back to the PGA TOUR but this is also to say that these guys out here on the Nationwide Tour are really great players. There are no slouches out here."
Gainey started the final round three shots back of co-leaders Park (69) and B.J. Staten (77) but quickly moved to the front of the pack with four birdies and an eagle on his first seven holes. When the man nicknamed "Two Gloves" rolled in a 20-foot eagle putt on No. 7, he was at 17-under and led by two.
A rope-hook drive on the difficult ninth hole put him in the trees and some heavy rough. He took a penalty stroke for an unplayable lie and eventually made a double-bogey six, dropping him back into four-way tie for the lead with Park, Stanley and Justin Peters (72/T12).
"As bad a tee shot as I hit there, I deserved whatever I made there," he said. "My blood pressure was pretty high and I'll leave it at that."
Gainey regrouped quickly, with the help of his caddie.
"He told me that all we wanted was a shot going into the back nine on Sunday and I had a shot," he said. "He told me to keep plugging."
Gainey rolled in a birdie at No. 11 to regain the lead while the rest of the pack struggled to make birdies.
"This course reminded me of a U.S. Open golf course," said the winner, who will be one of 78 players in a sectional qualifier on Monday in nearby Rockville, Md. "The rough is thick, the fairways are hard and the greens are fast."
Gainey's birdie binge stalled on the back, leaving the door open for any number of challengers to step forward. Several had chances.
Claxton, the 2007 tournament champion, birdied Nos. 16 and 17 was 15 under but missed a birdie try to tie at the par-5, 18th hole.
Flanagan also birdied the 111-yard, 17th hole to get to 15 under but failed to birdie the final hole.
Lickliter rolled in a clutch 25-footer for birdie on No. 18 to get to 16-under and tie Gainey for the lead.
Gainey, playing in the next-to-last threesome with Stanley, ripped a 3-iron hybrid on the uphill par-5 that settled 35 feet from the pin.
"I was nervous. I was just trying to get it close," said Gainey of his eagle attempt. "It was downhill, sidehill with two to three feet of break. I was trying to make it easy for myself on the second putt. I didn't want to have to grind over a four or five-footer. I had perfect speed for the putt but I didn't read the break right."
Gainey's putt settled three feet past the cup and he needed the short one for the win.
"Of course I was nervous," he admitted. "I'd be telling a fib if I wasn't. I've been close to winning this year but I've come up a couple shots short. This feels really good to get it done."
Gainey's birdie gave him the outright lead but he still wasn't done. With a thunderstorm approaching quickly, Park still had a chance after a birdie at 16 got him to 15-under. He needed an eagle to tie but his second shot wound up in a greenside bunker. His third was on line but wound up four feet short.
"I'm happy," said Gainey. "It's a feeling that you can't explain. It will probably take a couple of days to sink in."
• Tommy Gainey has finished first, second and third this year. He was solo third at the Panama CLARO Championship, tied for second at the BMW Charity Pro-Am and won this week.
• Tommy Gainey becomes the 6th first-time winner on the Nationwide Tour in 11 events this year. He joins Bobby Gates, Jim Herman, Fabian Gomez, Kevin Chappell and Martin Piller in that newcomer's category.
• Frank Lickliter's T2 finish is his first top-10 on any Tour in 3 ½ years. Lickliter's previous top-10 was a T2 at the 2006 FUNAI Classic at Walt Disney World Resort -- a span of 89 starts (81 PGA TOUR + 8 Nationwide Tour).
• Rookie Kyle Stanley now has four top-10 finishes in 10 starts this year. He finished T9 at the Panama CLARO Championship, the Fresh Express Classic at TPC Stonebrae and The Rex Hospital Open.
• Jin Park's runner-up finish is a career-best. He was T3 at the 2009 WNB Golf Classic.
• Nick Flanagan's T4 is his first top-10 in 10 starts this year and is also his best finish since he won the 2007 Xerox Classic in Rochester, N.Y. -- his third win of the 2007 season.
• 54-hole co-leader B.J. Staten saw his chances for victory dashed early in the day. Staten was at 14-under to begin the day but opened with a pair of bogeys. He recovered with a birdie on No. 3 but suffered a triple-bogey at the par-3, 5th hole to fall to 10-under at the time and seven shots back of leader Tommy Gainey.
• Leading money winner Kevin Chappell finished T30 this week and maintains his hold on the top spot on the money list for the third straight week.
• Rookie Justin Peters' T12 is his best finish in six starts this year. His previous best was a T31 at the South Georgia Classic.
• Here is how the top finishers improved their positions on the 2010 money list:
• The toughest hole on the course was the par-3, 5th, which played to a distance of 240, 224, 215 and 231 yards respectively for four days. The scoring average for the hole is 3.274, which currently makes it the hardest par-3 on the Tour thus far this year. The 8th hole at Carolina Country Club (BMW Charity Pro-Am) was No. 1 at 3.230.
• There were two players who made the cut that have University of Maryland connections. They were paired together for Sunday's final round: Bobby MacWhinnie 71-68-71-76 -- 286 T60 George Bradford 73-66-71-70 -- 280 T46
• There are 57 players in the field this week that will be competing in various U.S. Open Sectional Qualifiers around the country on Monday. The majority of the total, 39 players, will be at Woodmont Country Club in Rockville, Maryland (about 20 miles away from the tournament site). There will be 78 players (66 professionals and 12 amateurs) competing for seven spots in this year's U.S. Open at Pebble Beach.
• The Nationwide Tour will take a one-week break from the schedule before resuming at the Fort Smith Classic in Arkansas. The Knoxville News Sentinel Open was originally scheduled for June 7-13 but has been moved back to August 23-29.