SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (Nov. 29, 2011) -- Jeff Freeman of Windermere, Fla., closed with a fourth consecutive 5-under-par 66 to claim medalist honors at the 2011 Champions Tour National Qualifying Tournament, Nov. 20, at the par-71 TPC Scottsdale's Champions Course. Freeman finished with a 72-hole total of 20-under-par 264 and was a four-stroke victory over Gary Hallberg of Castle Rock, Colo., and Jim Rutledge of Victoria, British Columbia.
Freeman, PGA assistant professional at the Country Club of Orlando, won the 1999 PGA Professional National Championship and the '99 PGA Professional Player of the Year, ended any suspense of who would capture medalist honors early in the final round. After starting the day tied with Hallberg at 15-under-par, he fired a blistering 6-under-par 29 on the front nine and was never threatened after that. His front nine included five straight birdies on holes Nos. 4-8. Two of those birdies came on 25-foot putts on Nos. 6 and 8.
"Scary day, scary day today," Freeman said. "When you are in these types of situations, if you don't play well, then you don't have a tournament to play in. I was scared all day, nervous all day and anxious all day. I just tried to play one shot at a time and get through the darned thing."
Despite winning medalist honors, Freeman won't be eligible to begin competing on the Champions Tour until April 15, when he turns 50. He had a lengthy career on the Nationwide Tour with 176 starts on his resume, playing full time in 1994 and again from 2001-2006. He also made 18 starts on the PGA Tour, including 10 in 2000. His victory at this year's Champions Tour National Qualifying Tournament earned him a check for $30,000.
Freeman was one of five players at the tournament to earn exempt status for 2012. Joining him were runners-up Hallberg and Rutledge as well as Jeff Hart of Solana Beach, Calif., and P.H. Horgan of West Palm Beach, Fla. Those five players will be exempt until the reorder takes place later in the 2012 season.
Seven other players earned conditionally-exempt status for 2012, including Sonny Skinner of Sylvester, Ga., the 2010 Senior PGA Professional Player of the Year; and Freeman's older brother, Robin, of La Quinta, Calif.