Loar loses lead, battles back to win Nationwide Panama Championship

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PGA.com news services

Series: PGA

Edward Loar rolled in a six-foot par putt on the final hole Sunday to win the Nationwide Tour’s Panama Claro Championship by one stroke over four others. Loar, who held a four-stroke after 54 holes at the Panama Golf Club, gave all of the lead back early and then battled his way to the win despite a 4-over 74.

The 34-year-old Dallas resident finished at 4-under 276, one better than the quartet of Cameron Percy (67), Ryan Armour (68), Luke List (68) and Brian Smock (69). The win is the first significant one for Loar since he captured the 2004 Korean Open on the Asian Tour. He also collected a first-place check for $99,000.

NATIONWIDE PANAMA CLARO CHAMPIONSHIP

Vance Veazey is the only multiple winner of the nine-year-old Panama Claro Championship, having won in both 2005 and 2009.

"I really haven't played that good out here," said Loar, who is a rookie on the PGA Tour this year and will head to the Puerto Rico Open next week. "Hopefully this will give me some gratification that I actually belong out here."

Loar certainly made Sunday's finale interesting. The big-hitting lefty stretched his lead to five shots early with a birdie at No. 4 and appeared to be on cruise control.

"Yeah, I was nervous," he said. "It was the first time in a while that I'd been in the lead, especially on a stage like this. I think anybody that said they weren't is crazy. On a course like this, anything can happen, as it's shown all week. Unfortunately, it came up and bit me a couple of times."

Loar three-putted the par-3 sixth hole to fall to 7 under, but was still in control. The wheels came off at No. 7, when he pushed his tee shot into the water and eventually three-putted for a triple-bogey 7.

"The triple was just bad shots followed by bad shots. I was thinking I was glad I had a four-shot lead to start with," he said with a chuckle. "I obviously let a lot of people back in the tournament, but that's why you play 72 holes."

With Loar in full reverse, several made small charges up the board.

Percy polished off a bogey-free weekend with a 3-under 67 and was the first in the clubhouse at 3 under.

"Absolutely I thought I'd have a chance today," said Percy, who was eight back to start. "Once the wind was up, I thought I could win because I knew how hard it was going to be to hold onto a lead out there. It's hard to hold on."

Percy waited and hoped for the tournament's second playoff in the nine-year history.

Armour had gotten to 5 under with a birdie at No. 13 but stumbled with a pair of bogeys down the stretch, including one at 18. He was seven back to start the day.

"There's always a chance on this golf course," he said. "We all try to play as many bogey-free rounds as we can out here, and this is a golf course where you jump up the leaderboard if you do it."

Armour's par putt on 18 hung on the lip but refused to drop, leaving him at 3 under as well.

Next it was List's turn. He rolled in a 10-foot birdie putt at No. 18 to make it three at 3 under.

Smock made it a quartet with a birdie-par finish.

At that point, Loar was also at 3 under and in a five-way tie for the lead.

When he absolutely needed to, Loar stepped up. He rolled in a 25-foot birdie putt from the fringe to regain the lead.

"I knew what it meant," he said.

After a routine at the short, par-3 17th he needed only a par to win, but his tee shot on the 465-yard hole clipped a tree and left him with 240 yards to the pin.

"I just tried to put myself in a place where I could get it up-and-down," he said. "I didn't think I had a chance for the green. I just hit a really good chip shot."

Six feet for par to win.

"I just tried to stick to my routine and I hit it right in the middle," he said. "I really struggled. I had pretty good control and then a couple of slip ups, followed by another slip-up and all of a sudden it was tight and I really had to fight and dig deep. I made some unbelievable up-and-downs coming in to win this tournament."

Fourth-Round Notes:

--Edward Loar's winning score of 276 was the second-highest in tournament history. Scott Dunlap was 3 under when he won in 2008.

--With his win, Loar becomes only the sixth left-handed winner in Nationwide Tour history. The others are Vic Wilk at the 1994 Knoxville Open, Steve Flesch at the 1997 Tour Championship, Eric Axley at the 2005 Rex Hospital Open, Greg Chalmers at the 2005 Albertsons Boise Open and 2008 Henrico County Open, and Ted Potter Jr. at the 2011 South Georgia Classic and 2011 Soboba Golf Classic.