Mulroy earns first Nationwide title by a shot in Georgia

Greenwood/Getty Images
Garth Mulroy survived a dramatic final hole to edge Chris Tidland by a shot.
April 26, 2009
Kin Lo, PGA TOUR Staff

VALDOSTA, Ga. -- Garth Mulroy won the 2009 South Georgia Classic presented by First State Bank and Trust Company by one stroke over Chris Tidland on Sunday. Tied for the lead with Tidland at the start of the final round, Mulroy shot a 3-under 69 to Tidland's 70 to secure his first win on the Nationwide Tour.

Inside the Numbers
Mulroy's Final Stats
Category Total Rank
Eagles 0 N/A
Birdies 22 1
Pars 43 T48
Bogeys 5 T58
Double Bogeys 2 T4
Other 0 N/A
Driving Accuracy 73.2% T21
Driving Distance 321.4 yds. 2
Greens in Regulation 72.2% T18
Putts per Round 27.5 1
Puttts per GIR 1.635 1
Sand Saves 100% T1

The $112,500 paycheck propels Mulroy into second place on the 2009 Nationwide Tour money list. "The 25" leading money winners at the end of the season earn PGA TOUR cards for 2010. The win also guarantees him fully exempt status on the Nationwide Tour for the rest of this year and all of next year.

Walking off the 17th green, Mulroy held a three-stroke lead over Tidland. To one spectator, the final outcome was merely a formality.

"Someone in the crowd came up to me as I was walking to the 18th tee and asked me if this was my first win," Mulroy said. "I told him that I hadn't won yet."

In fact, the uphill, 501-yard par 4 awaiting Mulroy provided some unexpected suspense.

His tee shot found the corner of the right fairway bunker, leaving a difficult approach from approximately 200 yards. With a three-shot cushion, Mulroy just wanted to get the ball up around the green. Unfortunately, his ball drifted right and came to rest against a rake on the bank of a greenside bunker.

"If the rake hadn't been there, I would have been fine -- the ball would have rolled down into the bunker. Instead, I had to move the rake and replace the ball on the slope," he said. "I had absolutely no shot."

Electing to play it safe, Mulroy hit his third shot sideways and left himself in a tricky position behind the severe false front of the green, still some 30 yards from the hole. His subsequent chip shot stopped 10 feet short.

With Mulroy putting for a bogey 5, Tidland was on the green in two and had a 30-footer for birdie that would have forced Mulroy to hole out to avoid a playoff. But Tidland's putt burned the right edge of the hole, and a relieved Mulroy two-putted for double bogey and the one-stroke victory.

"I can't say I was disappointed Chris missed that putt," Mulroy joked. "But I guess that's why you play four rounds. I earned that three-shot lead going into the last hole and was glad to have it."

Mulroy is a native of Durban, South Africa, and playing his third full season on the Nationwide Tour.

Warm weather persisted in Valdosta for the final round. Temperatures soared to nearly 90 degrees with light southeast winds and full sunshine.

The Nationwide Tour now takes two weeks off then returns May-11-17 in Greenville, S.C., for the BMW Charity Pro-Am.

Final-Round Notebook: Five of the 14 open qualifiers made the cut: Tyler Leon (tied for 15th), Keegan Bradley (tied for 55th), Bradley Iles (tied for sixth), Patrick Nagle (tied for 45th) and Brendan Steele (tied for 34th). ... Leon is not a member of the Nationwide Tour and played his way into the field at the Monday qualifying tournament. By finishing in the top 25 this week he is eligible to play in the next event on Tour. ... The only sponsor exemption to make the cut was Jason Allred, who tied for 36th.