Bates Wins Marathon Playoff in Hershey

By Sports NetworkJuly 4, 2004, 4:00 pm
HERSHEY, Penn. -- Ben Bates birdied the 72nd hole Sunday to force a playoff that he went on to win with a par on the eighth extra hole to claim The Reese's Cup Classic.
Bates closed with a 2-over 73 to join Paul Gow at 6-under-par 278. Gow finished with a 1-over 72.
The duo each parred the first seven playoff holes in varying fashion. Bates two-putted for par on No. 18, the first extra hole, while Gow got up-and-down for his par.
They each two-putted for par on the par-3 16th before Bates extended the playoff with an up-and-down par at the 17th. They again two-putted for par at the 18th and moved back to No. 16 on the East Course at Hershey Golf Club.
Bates lost his tee shot into a greenside bunker, then blasted out, but his ball remained in the rough. He managed to chip in for par to keep the playoff going.
Gow got up-and-down from short of the green at No. 17, the sixth playoff hole, for his par. He nearly birdied the 18th, but settled for par, while Bates got up-and-down for his par from a bunker.
Finally at the 16th, the eighth extra hole, Gow missed the green left. His chip shot rolled across the green and back into the rough. His third shot skated past the hole and he tapped in for bogey.
Bates meanwhile two-putted for par and the win, his second on the Nationwide Tour that earned him $81,000.
'It was absolutely fitting it ended on that hole,' Bates said. 'That's by far the hardest hole we play all year. I don't know how Paul did it, but he was right there every time. I never aimed at that pin. I hit three good shots and one not-so-good one there.'
Bates struggled to a pair of bogeys and one lone birdie on his opening nine. After dropping shots at the 11th and 13th, Bates birdied the par-5 15th. He faltered to another bogey at the 16th, but closed with a 22-foot birdie putt at the last to force the playoff.
'We put on quite a show for the people here,' said Bates, of the playoff that matched the second-longest in tour history. 'I don't know if there's been a better playoff anywhere. If there was, I'd like to see it. We both got up-and-down for pars. We had chip-ins and lip outs. I'm sure there were times he thought he had it won. There were times when I thought I had it.'
Gow got off to a good start with birdies on two of his first five holes. However, he stumbled to bogeys at the sixth, eighth and ninth to make the turn at minus-6.
After four pars in a row, he birdied the 14th to get back to 7 under. Gow struggled to a bogey at the very next hole before parring his final three holes.
Doug Barron and Jason Caron shared third at 4-under-par 280. Kenneth Staton, Michael Long and Nick Watney were one stroke further back at minus-3.
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