NEWBURGH, Ind. – Third-year professional Ben Martin two-putted for par on the first playoff hole Monday morning to win the United Leasing Championship and collect his first career Web.com Tour win.
Martin drew the leadoff spot in a four-man playoff and played the treacherous 18th hole at Victoria National Golf Club perfectly. A 3-wood into the fairway was followed by a 6-iron on the green, and two putts for a par was good enough to beat Joe Affrunti, Ashley Hall and Billy Hurley.
The four were tied at 11-under 277 following the end of regulation play Sunday, but a nearly four-hour rain delay didn’t leave them enough daylight for the overtime session.
“I woke up at 5:30 this morning and was ready to go,” said Martin, who posted a 5-under 67 Sunday. “I knew they were calling for rain, but we’re used to playing this waiting game.”
The four had to wait a little longer when morning rains pushed the scheduled start of the playoff back an hour and 20 minutes as maintenance crews worked feverishly to make the 18th hole playable at Victoria National, which saw more than nine inches of rain fall during the week.
“When I drew a number and saw it was No. 1, I was pretty pleased,” said Martin, who wound up collecting a check for $108,000 and moved to No. 4 on the money list. “It’s such a tough drive because right is in the water and left is in the rough or the bunker.
“I was happy to get it out of the way and that probably did put a little pressure on them.”
Affunti was next on the tee and watched his drive bounce out of a fairway bunker and into some heavy rough. Hurley and Hall followed with disastrous shots that found the water that guards the entire right side of the hole.
“I knew walking off the tee that I was a little bit in command,” said Martin. “I didn’t want to get ahead of myself.”
Hall’s hopes were dashed when he hit a second ball into the water. Hurley laid up to about 80 yards and all Affrunti could do was hack out of the rough to about 100 yards. That left Martin with the advantage.
“I’m sure all four of us sitting up there on the tee would have taken a 4 if they would have given it to us,” he said. “It’s a tough hole and 4 is always a good score. I didn’t know if I would win it with a 4, but I probably wasn’t to going to lose it.”
Martin’s shot from 185 yards was a hair left of his target but settled in the middle of the green about 20 feet from the cup.
Martin’s birdie putt caught an edge of the cup but settled within tap-in range. Hurley rolled in a 12-footer for bogey and Affrunti missed his par attempt from 8 feet.
That left it up to Martin.
“I had about 12-14 inches to tap in, but that’s still nerve wracking. I played the hole the way I visualized it,” said Martin, who became the tour’s eighth first-time winner in 14 tournaments this year. “It’s still sinking in.
“It’s a great feeling. You just try to get a little better every year and that’s what I’ve done since junior golf and up through college. I can see the progress. It’s just a process out there of doing the little things that I need to do to get better and trusting the results will come.”
--The playoff began at 9:05 and concluded at 9:21 a.m.
--Ben Martin entered the week with five top-15 finishes in his past seven starts. He tied for fourth at the Rex Hospital Open a week ago.
--Martin is in his second full season on the Web.com Tour. This was his 40th career start on tour.
--The four-man playoff tied the tour record for most players in a playoff. This was the 13th four-man playoff in tour history. The last one came at the 2007 WNB Golf Classic in Midland, Texas, where Brad Adamonis was the winner.
--The last time there was a Monday finish on tour came at the 2006 PalmettoPride Classic in Charleston, S.C. The final group needed two holes to complete regulation play and then Michael Sim defeated Ken Duke in a playoff.
--Joe Affrunti is the only member of the four who had been involved a playoff to date. He lost the 2010 Chattanooga Classic to Scott Gardiner.