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Monday, September 23 2019 @ 05:33 am EDT

Vance Veazey wins Nationwide Tour opener, beats Garrett Willis in playoff

Golfers & GolfingThe Canadian Press PANAMA CITY — Vance Veazey won the season-opening Panama Championship on Sunday for his fourth career Nationwide Tour victory, beating Garrett Willis with a two-putt par on the second hole of a playoff. The 43-year-old Veazey, also the 2005 winner at Panama Golf Club, birdied the par-4 18th in regulation to join Willis (66) at 7-under 273. Willis also closed with a birdie, his fourth in the last six holes of regulation. "I love Panama," said Veazey, the only player in the field with four straight rounds in the 60s. "The people are great. The support is great. The course is great. I love everything about it and wish I could play 20 tournaments here." Bryan DeCorso of Guelph, Ont., shot even-par 70 to finish tied for sixth place at 277. Dustin Risdon of Calgary (278) tied for tenth, Brennan Webb of Huntsville, Ont., tied for 19th with 280 and Jon Mills of Oshawa, Ont., finished the tournment tied for 23rd at 281. (more)

Veazey and Willis opened the playoff with pars on 18, then moved to the par-4 10th. Veazey hit a perfect drive down the centre of the fairway, while Willis' drive drifted right into the first cut of rough.

Willis' 8-iron from 168 yards bounced over the green and stopped 30 yards from the hole. Veazey's second found the middle of the green, about 20 feet from the hole. After taking two strokes to get to the green, Willis had a six-foot putt for a bogey 5, when Veazey ended the playoff with his two-putt par.

In regulation, Veazey bogeyed 14 to fall a stroke behind Willis, then hit a 54-degree wedge from 116 yards to eight feet to set up his tying birdie on 18.

"I didn't realize that I was behind by a stroke until I got to the 17th hole and realized I had to make birdie to have a chance to win," Veazey said. "Coincidentally, I was in the same situation on the same hole in final round when I won here in 2005."

The former Mississippi player earned US$108,000. He opened with rounds of 67, 69 and 68. Jeff Gove (70) finished third, two strokes back. Henrik Bjornstad (69) and Jim Herman (71) followed at 4 under.

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