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Gogel Earns Redemption at Pebble Beach

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Life often offers second chances, but rarely a third. Matt Gogel took advantage of such an opportunity Sunday at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
 
Fate may have been a factor, but it was emotion ' both gut wrenching and soul stirring ' that ultimately defined the outcome.
 
Gogel made a 25-foot birdie putt on the par-5 18th, while Pat Perez took a triple-bogey 8. Perez led by one shot entering the home hole, but hit his tee shot out of bounds and his fourth shot into the Pacific Ocean.
 
'It feels good, said Gogel, who earned $720,000 for his first career tour title. (But) if anything I feel bad for Pat, because I know the situation, Ive been there before myself.
 
Gogel shot 3-under 69 at Pebble Beach Golf Links to finish the event at 14-under-par 274. Perez (76), despite the late collapse, still earned solo second place ' and $432,000 ' at 11-under.
 
In the end, experience ' and a bit of patience ' won out.
 
Gogel is in only his third season on tour, but hes been through a lot ' particularly on the Monterey Peninsula.
 
Last year, he took a three-shot lead into the weekend, only to shoot 81 on Saturday. Two years ago, he broke down on the back nine Sunday, shooting 40 and blowing a seven-shot lead over Tiger Woods.
 
Gogel learned from each of the instances, and applied those lessons this week.
 
I feel like I can understand the situation better, he said. I know when to be aggressive and when to be patient.
 
Patience is a virtue Perez does not yet possess.
 
Perez made only five pars in the final round. He wavered like a paper sack in the wind ' and it was blustery ' flying as high as 16-under, as low as 12-under.
 
Perez, who battled the flu at the start of the week, entered the final round with a four-shot lead, the same advantage he wasted in losing the 2000 Buy.Com Monterey Peninsula Classic when he shot a Sunday 77.
 
The 25-year-old rookie held onto his lead over the first 13 holes, but at the par-5 14th it appeared implosion was imminent.
 
Perez hit his second shot - a 3-wood - out of bounds right. Several club slams and a few more shots later, he carded a double-bogey 7 and fell to 12-under.
 
All of a sudden, it was Gogel in the drivers seat at 14-under. The 30-year-old Kansan was supposed to be in the final group, but because he had no amateur partner (his team missed the cut), he was relegated to the next-to-last foursome.
 
Regardless, Gogel picked up three strokes to par over his first 14 holes, including rolling in a 3-wood from off the green for birdie at No. 12.
 
Both Lee Janzen (73) and Andrew Magee (72) were still well within striking distance. However, neither man could make it past the 12-under mark.
 
As was the case all day, Perez immediately responded to his deteriorating situation. He birdied the par-4 15th, and then, after Gogel missed a three-foot par putt at the 17th, Perez retook the lead with a birdie.
 
Perez stuck his tee shot on the par-3 penultimate hole to five feet. He made the putt, emphatically pumping his fist in reaction, and climbed back to 14-under.
 
Knowing he needed birdie, Gogel took driver off the tee at the 18th. He then pushed his second shot with a 5-wood into the right rough, from where he placed his approach shot 25 feet from the flag.
 
I told my caddie, walking up the hill, I made this putt before, Gogel said.
 
It was also during that walk that he learned what was unfolding behind him.
 
Perez had also taken driver off the tee, but his ball ballooned right, over the gallery and into a bush.
 
The ball was unplayable, but was it, again, out of bounds?
 
Two tour officials came over, checked the O.B. markers, and deemed the ball on the wrong side of the stakes ' by a foot.
 
Its still hard to believe it went out of bounds, Perez later said. Didnt feel like a bad swing, it just got up and floated to the right and out of bounds.
 
Perez trudged back to the tee box, and split the fairway with his third shot (including the penalty stroke). And once he heard the roar of the crowd following Gogels lengthy birdie putt, he knew somehow he needed to save par.
 
Perez bombed a 3-wood, but this time he pulled it, into the hazard.
 
I dont know what it is about this place, he said of his Monterey peninsula past. I cant get it done.
 
Gogel knows the feeling. And after all was said and done, he had some parting words for Perez.
 
I will never forget what Tiger Woods told me, You have a lot to be proud of, Gogel recalled. I just said to (Perez), You had a great tournament, you have a lot to be proud of I know how you feel. I have been in that situation before. Come back next year.
 
The words were appreciated, but like lessons learned, they will take some time before they take effect.
 
Theres nothing good coming out of this week, he said in immediate frustration.
 
Added Gogel: Whether he believes it or not, there will be that experience of being right there. Hopefully he will continue to play his game.
 
If anything, I learned from 2000 you have to play all 18 holes.
 
Full-field scores from the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am