By CRAIG DOLCH
Special to PGA of America
PORT ST. LUCIE, Florida – Danny Balin had what every golfer wants: A putt on the last hole to win a tournament.
“That’s what we all dream of,” Balin said.
Balin delivered, making the clutch 5-foot par on the 18th hole – after making a 5-foot birdie putt on No. 17 to take the lead – to win Event No. 1 of the PGA Tournament Series at PGA Golf Club.
Balin shot an even-par 72 in windy conditions on the Dye Course to finish at 4-under 140 and edge Reigning PGA Professional of the Year Rich Berberian (70-141) and Rod Perry (68-141), who was the leading money winner in last year’s series.
“It feels good to get up for the moment,” said Balin, who became eligible to play in PGA of America events in June after playing the last four years on PGA Tour Latinoamerica. “I’ve had my share of putts to win and missed a ton of them. Luckily, I made this one.”
Ten minutes earlier, Berberian faced a 15-putt on the 18th green that would have moved him to 4-under and into a share of the lead. The ball caught the right edge of the hole and, cruelly, spun out to the left.
“It was a good putt, maybe it was a little firm because I had been leaving a lot of putts short this week,” Berberian said. “I knew I had to give it a chance. It lipped out pretty hard and that was it.”
Perry, who started tied for 18th place, shot the day’s best round. He was finished more than an hour before the final group.
“I didn’t think I had chance, but I’m pleasantly surprised to finish T2,” Perry said. “Danny’s one of the guys on the radar. He’s obviously played a lot of golf at a higher level than this the last couple of years. He’s going to be one of the guys to beat.”
Balin, a PGA Assistant Professional at Westchester Country Club in New York, earned $5,000 for the victory.
Scott Berliner (72-143) and Nick Latimer-Zabor (71-143) finished tied for fourth.
The PGA Tournament Series is presented by Golf Advisor.
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