CONOVER Michael Allen thought he would be battling with playing partner Bernhard Langer for the top prize at the Greater Hickory Kia Classic.
Then Olin Browne entered the picture and made things interesting during Sunday’s final round at Rock Barn Golf and Spa.
Allen forced a playoff with two birdies over the final three holes of regulation, then he beat Browne on the first playoff hole to win his fifth Champions Tour event and second this season.
“I got off to a good start this year, but the rest of the year has been up and down,” said Allen, who won $240,000 for his first tournament title since late March in Biloxi, Miss.
“At the end of the year, I really wanted to have a good finish. … I think I’m getting there.”
Allen, tied for second after Saturday’s second round, shot a 5-under 65 Sunday to tie Browne at 13-under 197.
Browne began the final round tied for fifth, but he charged to the top of the leader board with seven birdies over a nine-hole stretch, including five straight on Nos.10-14.
“I got off to a little bit of a slow start,” with a bogey on No.3, said Browne, who shot 6-under 64. “But I had that great run and gave myself a chance. One more putt and I would have had no worries.”
Instead, Browne parred the final four holes on Rock Barn's Champions Course, and Allen made birdies on Nos.16 and 18 to force the playoff.
On the first playoff hole – Rock Barn's No.18 – Allen drove his second shot to within 10 feet of the pin. Browne badly hooked his second shot into the rough and was forced to chip onto the green.
Allen’s eagle putt just lipped the hole, but he tapped in his next shot for birdie. Browne then missed a 40-foot putt wide right, and had to settle for par and second place.
Langer, who began the day with a two-shot lead, wound up third at 11-under 199 after shooting a 1-under 69.
Still, he made up ground on Kenny Perry in the Charles Schwab Cup standings. He trails Perry – who tied for 20th – by 394 points with two events remaining.
Kiser: 704-895-3662; Twitter: @Bkiser_CLTObs.
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