Evans Eagles 18 to Lead Club Pro Championship

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Louisville, KY - Barry Evans of Charleston, West Virginia, rolled in a 10-foot eagle putt on the final hole Saturday to grab a one-stroke lead after 54 holes of the 35th PGA Club Professional Championship.
 
Evans, the head professional at Berry Hills Country Club in Charleston, posted a six-under 66 -- the low round of the week at Valhalla Golf Club -- to finish three rounds atop the leaderboard at 10-under-par 206.
 
'All I said to my wife last night was that I wanted to play in the last group on the last day,' said the 40-year-old Evans, who missed the cut in his only other CPC appearance in 2000. 'I knew I had shoot under par, but you never know when these kinds of rounds are going to happen.'
 
Mike Gilmore of East Northport, New York, was in second place at nine-under 207 after carding a two-under 70.
 
'It got a little dry out there,' said Gilmore, who missed a six-foot birdie putt at the 18th. 'The greens started to get pretty hard there for a while. Hitting the greens with a soft iron shot was a premium out there.'
 
Saturday marked the second straight day Gilmore failed in a bid to close with a birdie. On Friday, the 37-year-old head pro from Wheatley Hills Golf Club in East Williston, New York, left his 40-foot birdie attempt inches short at Valhalla's 535-yard, par-five finishing hole.
 
Tim Thelen of Richmond, Texas, the winner of the 2000 CPC at Oak Tree and runner-up last year at the Sunriver Resort, shot a three-under 69 to finish at five-under 211. He was tied for third with longtime Southern Texas PGA Section playing rival Robert Thompson of Huntsville, Texas.
 
Thelen, who was also named PGA Club Professional Player of the Year in 2001, dropped to even par for the championship with a pair of bogeys on the front nine Saturday but finished with an amazing eagle-birdie-eagle flourish.
 
Thelen needed only one putt on the final three holes. He holed a 161-yard eight-iron approach for eagle at the par-four 16th, sank a 20-foot birdie putt on the 17th and knocked in a lob wedge from 20 yards for eagle at 18.
 
'I had a lot of patience today,' said Thelen, the head professional at Baywood Country Club in Pasadena, Texas. 'I couldn't see the ball go in on 16, but I heard some excitement from those who did. And at 17, it was the first birdie I made on a par-four all week. I would like to go out and play 18 more right now the way I feel.'
 
Thompson, head pro at Whispering Pines Golf Club in Trinity, Texas, drained a 90-foot eagle putt on the 18th hole Friday to earn a one-shot lead after two rounds. He backed up with four-bogey, one-birdie 75 on Saturday.
 
First-round leader Sean Farren of Oakmont, Pennsylvania, was alone in fifth at four-under par. Defending champion Wayne DeFrancesco of Baltimore, Maryland, finished knotted in eighth place at minus-one.
 
The low 25 scorers after 72 holes earn a berth in the 84th PGA Championship, to be held August 15-18 at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minnesota.
 
In addition, the low nine scorers and 2001 champ DeFrancesco will form the U.S. PGA Cup Team that will take on the Great Britain/Ireland squad in the 21st PGA Cup Matches, February 28 to March 2, 2003, at PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie, Florida.
 
Full field scores from the PGA Club Pro Championship