Sunday, February 24, 2013


By Joe Chemycz, Tour staff
PANAMA CITY, Panama – Kevin Foley rolled in a 15-foot birdie putt on the final hole to break free of Mathew Goggin and win the Panama Claro Championship for his first career title. 
Foley’s fourth birdie of the day was good for a 3-under 67 at the always-difficult Panama Golf Club put him at 8-under 272 and one in front of Goggin, the 54-hole leader, who needed a birdie at the 18th to force a play-off.
Goggin’s second shot at the 465-yard hole came up a yard short and settled into a greenside bunker. When he failed to hole it from the sand, the champions’ trophy and a check for $108,000 went to Foley, a 25-year old, second-year pro from New Jersey.
“It you had told me a year ago that I’d be standing here I probably wouldn’t have believed you,” said the Tour’s first champion of the 2013 season. “I’d take it, but I wouldn’t believe it. A lot has happened in a year.”
Foley had no status on any tour to begin the 2012 season but fought through Monday qualifiers and top-25 finishes and earned full status to begin the year in Central America.
Georgia’s Scott Brown (66) was alone in third place, two back. Scott Dunlap (68), Len Mattiace (69) and Roland Thatcher (71) shared fourth place at 4-under 276.
“I knew it was going to be a shootout today because there were a bunch of guys lined up to start the day,” said Foley, who entered Sunday 5-under and tied for second, two back of Goggin, the 2010 champion. 
“It wasn’t the windiest day but with tough pin positions and the course getting firmer, I knew I just had to play smart and steady all day.”
The former Penn State Nittany Lion followed his game plan perfectly, with only one bogey and several solid par-saving putts, to claim the win.
Goggin, on the other hand, battled through a less-than-perfect day but managed to shoot an even-par 70 despite a bogey, a double and a triple.
“I played really poorly for 13 holes,” said the 38-year old Scottsdale, Arizona resident. “I wasn’t playing particularly well but I was hanging in there. You’re just waiting for one or two holes or one or two shots to get you going and then instead of a good one you have the absolute worst one.”
Goggin bounced back from a double-bogey at No. 3 with three birdies on his next five hole to regain the lead from Foley and Thatcher. He was up one when he snap-hooked a tee shot into the water at the 502-yard, 11th hole and put a seven on his scorecard.
“Just a bad swing,” he said. “I hadn’t hit one like that all week.”
Still, he wasn’t out of it. Nobody really is on Sunday in Panama when the wind-blown course plays hard and fast and the leaders usually struggle to keep moving forward.
“I told my caddie after that triple that it wasn’t over,” said Goggin. “I figured it was going to be whoever played the last seven holes the best.
Foley gained the lead with a birdie at No. 15 but gave it back with a three-putt bogey from 75 feet on the next hole. Goggin closed to within one at birdies on 14 and 15.
“Coming down the last two holes I knew I would rather pick one up and and force him to tie instead of him making a birdie to beat me,” said Foley, who hit 9-iron from 147 yards. “I knew it was a good look from behind the hole. It was perfect and dropped it in the top-left side of the cup. That was sweet.”
Fourth- Round Notes & Quotes:
• Sunday weather: mostly sunny, wind N 10-20 mph and a high of 93.
• Morgan Hoffmann withdrew prior to the start of the round due to a stomach illness.
• Kevin Foley becomes the fourth player in tournament history to make this win his first career title:
• Texan Jordan Speith posted a 4-under 66 to move up the final leaderboard and finish T7, his first career top-10. Speith, 19, turned professional in December 2012 after a year and a half at the University of Texas, where he helped the Longhorns to the NCAA Championship in his freshman season.
Spieth has played in 10 PGA TOUR events and made the cut in six. His best finish came in his initial start – a T16 at the 2010 HP Byron Nelson Championship. This was only his second start on the Tour – T44 at the 2012 Nationwide Children’s Hospital Invitational.
With his top-25 effort this week, Spieth gains a berth in next week’s Colombia Championship at the Bogota Country Club.

272 Kevin Foley (US) 66 69 70 67
273 Mathew Goggin (Australia) 68 68 66 70
274 Scott Brown (US) 68 70 70 66   





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