SNOW HILL, N.C. – (June 23, 2013) – Often times, the dreams of our youth fade with the years. Matt Hendrix knows that, but the Clemson alumnus isn’t quite ready to give up on his – and the optimism comes with good reason.
Hendrix, 32, carded a 5-under 67 in the final round to force a playoff with 2010 British Amateur champion Jin Jeong and birdied the second playoff hole to win the 2013 Cutter Creek Classic presented by Bojangles’ on Sunday afternoon.
“This win is huge for me,” said Hendrix, who has conditional status on the Web.com Tour. “I’ve been doing this since 2004, so maybe this is just a later start to my career than I wanted. It definitely helps to see a guy like (PGA TOUR winner) Ted Potter make it later in his career. If it wasn’t for that, I would’ve probably started thinking about doing something else.”
While Hendrix would eventually like to mimic Potter’s exploits on the PGA TOUR, his finish on Sunday reminded many in the crowd of the seven-time NGA TOUR winner.
On the final hole of regulation, Hendrix went for the par-5 18th hole in two and barely carried the front edge of the water-protected green, while Jeong stuffed his second shot to about 20 feet for eagle. Undeterred, the former Tiger made a miraculous up-and-down for birdie to join Jeong, who narrowly missed his eagle putt and made birdie, on the 18th hole for the playoff.
Both golfers safely found the green in two on the first extra hole and walked away with birdies to send the playoff back to the 18th tee. Hendrix again reached the green in two, but Jeong left his second shot in the rough.
Jeong’s chip left the Australian golfer with 15 foot for birdie, while Hendrix two-putted for birdie. And when Jeong’s birdie putt slid past the hole, Hendrix had his long-awaited win on the NGA TOUR.
“I got away with a little bit of a poor shot in regulation,” said Hendrix. “But I had two good numbers in the playoff and put two great swings on them. Those were two of the better swings I had all week and they came at a great time.”
In addition to earning $22,000 for his first NGA TOUR Pro Series victory, the Greenville, S.C., native also picked up an event exemption into the Web.com Tour’s Utah Championship, which could help facilitate his journey to the top of the game.
“It’s important for me to know I have another start on the Web.com Tour,” said Hendrix, who finished with rounds of 70-66-71-67 for a 14-under 274 total. “This is what I’ve needed. I told my teacher and family that if I could just get one start and put together some rounds like I did this week, I could win and that would change everything.”
Though Jeong came up just shy of his first victory on U.S. soil, the 23-year-old golfer showed that he will be a force to be reckoned with for years to come. Jeong, who finished T14 in the 2010 British Open, carded back-to-back 67s on the weekend in just his second NGA TOUR event to finish at 14-under par and earned $11,432 for the runner-up effort.
Hunter Green, a former Middle Tennessee State standout from Evensville, Tenn., nearly made it a threesome in the playoff. Green reached the 72nd hole in two shots, but the former Blue Raider was unable to get up-and-down from the back fringe for birdie and had to settle for third place at 13-under par. However, Green’s podium finish was a career-best and earned him $8,632.
Like Green, Travis Hampshire, a Purdue alumnus from Tampa, Fla., had a chance to join the playoff, but a bogey on the final hole of regulation left the 2012 Web.com Tour member at 12-under par and tied for fourth with Ken Looper. Hampshire carded a final-round 70.
After reaching 7 under for the day and 14 under for the tournament through 13 holes, Looper, a former LSU standout from Mandeville, La., looked as though he would be hoisting trophy on Sunday. However, three bogeys and just one birdie over his final six holes left Looper with a 5-under 67 and tied for fourth. Hampshire and Looper earned $6,482 each.
Ben Silverman (68), Chris Wolfe (68), Jesse Hutchins (69) and Paul Apyan (70) finished tied for sixth at 11-under par, while Jonathan Fly (66), Eric Axley (69), Mitchell Gregson (70) and third-round leader Adam Hogue (73) finished T10 at 10-under par.
-Per NGA Tour