Gore rolled in a 5-foot birdie putt on the second playoff hole Sunday to edge Roger Tambellini for the Cox Classic title, winning his third straight start and earning a 'battlefield promotion' to the PGA Tour.
Gore, who made a name for himself by playing in the final group on Sunday during this year's U.S. Open, added to his growing 'underdog' legend by firing a 59 in the second round Friday.
It was only the third 59 shot on the Nationwide Tour -- and just the seventh in the history of the four major United States professional golf tours. Fans tend to notice that kind of thing, and from the start of Sunday's final round it was clear Gore, who began the round four strokes behind overnight leader Scott Peterson, was a fan-favorite.
'I felt like I was at the U.S. Open,' Gore said of the response. 'It was incredible.'
The battlefield promotion goes to a Nationwide Tour player who wins three times in a single season. The last player to earn the battlefield was Tom Carter in 2003. Gore was the third player to earn the battlefield by winning the Cox Classic. Chris Smith, in 1997, and Heath Slocum, in 2001, were the first two players to earn the battlefield with a win here.
Tambellini fired a 7-under 64 in his final round to tie Gore at 23-under-par. But after making par from the rough on the first playoff hole, he could only muster par again from 12 feet on the second.
And that wasn't good enough, because Gore had landed inside Tambellini and five feet from the cup after a clutch iron shot from the rough. The crowd roared when he drained his birdie putt, and the 31-year-old was off to the PGA Tour.
'Let's go see what we can do,' said Gore, who earned $112,500 with the win.
John Mallinger, Jon Mills and Peterson finished four strokes off the pace at 19-under-par 265. Peterson shot even-par 71 Sunday and watched his overnight lead slip away to Gore early in the day.
Gore put together a string of eight consecutive birdies from the third to the 10th to quickly take over the final round lead at minus-23.
The streak ended at the par-4 11th, where he left himself with a long birdie putt after flying an 8-iron 20 feet past the hole.
Gore was still 8 under on the day when he arrived at No. 15 needing to go minus-four on his last four holes to shoot 59 again. But he missed a birdie putt there before converting his fifth straight par to remain at 23 under for the tournament.
Things began to change at the 16th, a long par-3 that Gore had played 1-over during the first three rounds. His tee shot found the left side of the green -- a good distance from which to make par, at least -- but Gore missed his birdie putt to the right and then lipped his par putt out to end with a bogey and drop to minus-22.
'One didn't break, and the other broke too much,' said Gore.
Meanwhile, Tambellini was right on the leader's heels.
As Gore found the middle of the fairway with a long drive at the par-5 17th and then pushed a 9-iron right of the green, Tambellini quietly made birdie at the 16th to move into a tie at 22 under.
Gore missed another birdie putt at the 17th after chipping up nicely from the rough. That left him with the tough 440-yard, par-4 18th as another chance to gain some breathing room on Tambellini again.
Players weren't making many birdies at No. 18, including Gore. He collected pars there in his first three rounds.
But after Tambellini reached the 17th green in two and came up short on an eagle putt, Gore lined up for a birdie putt at 18 with a chance to take a brief lead.
He rolled the putt home with momentum to spare, pumping his right fist in the air as the crowd cheered his 23 under score.
Back at the 17th, Tambellini heard the roar. But he showed his composure by sinking a birdie putt to tie Gore heading to the last. Then, at the 18th, he left himself with work for a par, but showed composure again by making the knee-knocker to force the playoff.
Steve LeBrun finished alone in sixth place at 18-under-par 266, while Bill Haas ended one stroke further back for seventh. LeBrun was minus-1 in his final round, one day after holing out from the fairway for eagle at Nos. 17 and 18 to climb into second place.