CHATTANOOGA, Tennessee – Australia’s Scott Gardiner won the Chattanooga Classic on Sunday for his first Nationwide Tour title, beating Joe Affrunti with a birdie on the fourth hole of a playoff.
Gardiner closed with a 6-under 66 to match Joe Affrunti (71) and David Branshaw (70) at 19-under 269 on the Black Creek Club course. Branshaw was eliminated on the first extra hole.
Gardiner had an eagle and six birdies on the par-5 18th, playing it four times in regulation and three times in the playoff. He earned $90,000 to jump from 62nd to 24th on the money list with $182,449. The top 25 after the final three events will earn 2011 PGA Tour cards.
“It’s a lot easier than being 62 on the list and on the cut line on a Friday,” Gardiner said. “It’s great job security knowing I’ll be good for a few years down the road. Hopefully, I can play like this the next few weeks and go forward.”
Gardiner and Affrunti opened the playoff with birdies on No. 18, while Branshaw dropped out with a bogey. Gardiner and Affrunti birdied the 18th again on the second extra hole and had matching pars on the par-4 ninth on the third playoff hole. Gardiner won with his third playoff birdie on 18.
“You’ve got less time to think about it,” Gardiner said. “I had hit a good putt (from 30 feet) to get it down there and I figured if I make it, everybody gets to go home a little earlier. It was a short putt and if Joe missed I didn’t want him to lose with a bogey.”
Brendan Steele (66) was fourth at 17 under, and David Mathis (64), Scott Dunlap (66), Jeff Brehaut (66), Patrick Sheehan (66), Jeff Curl (67) and Keegan Bradley (68) followed at 16 under.
In regulation, Gardner had a 20-footer for birdie on 18.
“I knew those guys were 18 under playing the last hole,” said Gardiner, who blasted his third from a greenside bunker on the 532-yard hole. “I tried to hit a good putt just like I did all week. I gave myself a shot at it and it was the best putt I’ve ever made.”