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Jason Gore earns promotion to PGA Tour

U.S. Open fan favorite Jason Gore earned an immediate promotion to the PGA Tour on Sunday, winning a Nationwide Tour-record third straight title by beating Roger Tambellini on the second playoff hole at the Cox Classic.

The 31-year-old Gore made eight straight birdies in a final-round 8-under 63 to rally from a four-shot deficit. He rolled in a 3-foot birdie putt on the second extra hole to beat Tambellini and become the first golfer to win three straight Nationwide events, and the seventh to earn an immediate pass onto the PGA Tour.

Gore placed second in a qualifier and captured the hearts of fans by playing his way into the last group for the final round of the U.S. Open at Pinehurst. But he struggled to a 14-over 84 and a 49th-place finish.

Now, he's headed back to the top circuit.

``It's pretty cool,'' said Gore, who earned $112,500 for his sixth career Nationwide title. ``It's been a hard battle. Six months ago, I was ready to hang it up. It shows you golf is a great game.''

Gore, who became just the third Nationwide player to shoot a 59 in Friday's second round, had nine birdies overall in the final round and finished at 23-under 261 along with Tambellini (64).

On the second extra hole, Gore hit a terrific wedge from the rough to 3 feet, and watched as Tambellini missed a birdie try from 8 feet.

Gore is scheduled to play in the Nationwide event this week in Springfield, Mo., before moving on to the Renoe-Taho Open on the PGA Tour, where he played in 2001 and 2003. But, he indicated he might reconsider playing at Springfield and opt for some rest.

``It's a pretty good feeling, for sure,'' said Gore, who won the Scholarship America Showdown and National Mining Association Pete Dye Classic on consecutive weeks last month to become the first player on the developmental tour to win back-to-back events twice.

Gore was threatening to pull away on the front nine, making consecutive birdies from Nos. 3-9, and adding another at the 10th to stretch his lead to three strokes. But, he needed a birdie on the 72nd hole to tie Tambellini, who charged into the lead with birdies at Nos. 16-17.

``I wasn't backing off,'' Tambellini said. ``I was hitting good shots all day long. He didn't intimidate me, per se. I thought I had the game to beat him today.''

But Gore parred five straight holes before a three-putt bogey at the 16th gave Tambellini the opening he needed.

Scott Petersen, the third-round leader who was four ahead of Gore at the start Sunday, had back-to-back bogeys, his first of the tournament, at the second and third holes and finished tied with John Mallinger (65) and Jon Mills (67) at 19 under.

Petersen's lead over Gore vanished in five holes, but he was still within two after chipping in for birdie on the par-3 12th. His bid for his first title in five years ended with a double-bogey on the 14th when his tee shot hit a tree and dropped into a hazard.

Steve LeBrun finished with a 70 was sixth. On Saturday, he tied the Nationwide record with three eagles in a round of 63, including consecutive eagles on the 17th and 18th.

Tambellini, who earned $67,500 for second place, said he won't miss Gore on the Nationwide Tour.

``It's good to get him off this tour and onto the tour he should be on,'' Tambellini said.

 

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