Bill Murchison of Canton, Ga., bogeyed the second playoff hole, Dec. 10, but it was just enough for his first victory in the PGA Tournament Series at PGA Golf Club.
After they tied at five under par 139 on the Wanamaker Course, Murchison outlasted Frank Bensel of Jupiter, Fla., who bogeyed the first extra hole, the par-4 18th, and left-hander Travis Johns of Oswego, Ill., who double bogeyed the second time they played 18.
Bensel, an assistant at Century Country Club in Purchase, N.Y., flew the green the first time and could not save his par while Murchison and Johns made routine two-putt pars. The second time, Johns pulled his drive almost into the adjacent first fairway, hit 7-iron over the trees into 18's back bunker, came out to about 12 feet and three-putted.
The first round leader at 68, Johns was still ahead after 35 holes but hit his drive into a fairway bunker, his second into the water in front of the green, made the green in four and two-putted to drop into the playoff.
"That 18 is just a tough hole," acknowledged Johns, a PGA teaching professional at Twin Lakes Golf Course in Palatine, Ill. He had four birdies and a bogey on the first 17 holes.
Bensel had come from six shots off Johns' first round lead of 68, closing at 65 on eight birdies and a bogey.
"I hit good tee shots all three times I played 18," Murchison said, "and that made a big difference. The second time in the playoff, I had a 20-foot downhill putt and barely touched it and it went six feet past. The next one was hard to read…it broke a little to the left, which I couldn't see," but he made a two-foot bogey putt for the win. In regulation he had one bogey plus three birdies on each nine for 67.
Coincidentally, two other Georgia professionals rounded out the top five: Sonny Skinner, Sylvester, fourth, 68-141 and Craig Stevens, Dallas, fifth, 69-142. Skinner won the season opener Nov. 30 on the Wanamaker Course.
There were 60 starters and a total purse of $15,000. The six-event PGA Tournament Series concludes Dec. 17, on The Ryder Course at PGA Golf Club.
PGA Tournament Series – Event No. 4
PGA Golf Club - Port St. Lucie, Fla.
Wanamaker Course (Par-72, 7,035 yards)
*Bill Murchison, Canton, Ga., $3,100 72-67—139
Frank Bensel, Jupiter, Fla. $1,650 74-65—139
Travis Johns, Oswego, Ill., $1,650 68-71—139
Sonny Skinner, Sylvester, Ga., $1,000 73-68—141
Craig Stevens, Dallas, Ga., $825 73-69—142
Dwayne Randall, Findley Lake, N.Y., $656.25 75-68—143
Mike Parrish, Madison, Ala., $656.25 75-68—143
Christopher Brown, Farmers Branch, Texas, $656.25 71-72—143
Mark Faulkner, Marion, Ill., $656.25 69-74—143
William Van Orman, Bogart, Ga., $545 74-70—144
Charles Meola, Mamaroneck, N.Y., $545 72-72—144
Kyle Roman, Grayling, Mich., $475 71-74—145
Scott Ford, Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. $475 71-74—145
Mark Diffley, Pelham Manor, N.Y., $475 70-75—145
Mike San Filippo, Hobe Sound, $413.33 73-73—146
Ryan Kalista, Old Greenwich, Conn., $413.33 73-73—146
Simon McGreal, Greensboro, N.C., $413.33 70-76—146
Frank Dully, Salem, Mass., $131.67 75-72—147
Kyle Sanders, Wheaton, Ill., $131.67 75-72—147
Chris Krueger, Rehoboth Beach, Del., $131.67 74-73—147
*Murchison won playoff, bogey-5 on second extra hole