Wagner Collects Second Win of the Season


2006 Preferred Wichita OpenOMAHA, Neb. -- Johnson Wagner fired an 8-under 63 on Sunday to come from behind and win the Cox Classic. He finished 72 holes at 21-under-par 263 and cruised to a four-shot win at Champions Run.
Wagner collected his second win of the season after hoisting the trophy at the Louisiana Open. With one more victory on the Nationwide Tour in 2006, he will earn an automatic 'battlefield promotion' to the PGA TOUR.
If that doesn't work out, Wagner now has other options. He pocketed $112,500 for the victory and vaulted past Tripp Isenhour for first place on the Nationwide Tour money list. The top 20 after the season gain exemptions to the PGA Tour, so Wagner looks like he will be plying his trade there in 2007.
'I love this event and sorry I'm not coming back for the rest of my life,' joked Wagner. 'I've been dreaming of finishing on this hole on Sunday and I can't think of a better way to finish.'
Third-round co-leader Craig Bowden birdied the 72nd hole to move into sole possession of second place. He shot a final-round, 3-under 68 to finish at 17-under-par 267.
It was a tough contest early as no one distanced themselves from the field. Wagner birdied the second, then drained a long birdie putt at the third. When he rolled in a 12-foot, left-to-right-breaking birdie try on No. 8, he reached minus-16 and trailed by one.
Wagner birdied the par-5 10th to move into the lead, then holed a 20-foot birdie putt at 11 to move two clear. Bowden got to 17 under and within one with a birdie of his own at the 11th.
Wagner played steady golf on the back nine, but Bowden dropped a shot at the 14th when his drive found the right rough. He got the stroke back right away when he hit a beautiful approach into the 15th green. Bowden drained the 3-footer to once again close the gap to one, but things turned quickly for both players.
Bowden drove well left of the fairway at the 16th and could never recover. He made bogey at 16, but one hole ahead, Wagner hit a 3-wood to 5 feet to set up eagle. That became a four-shot swing and gave Wagner sufficient breathing room at the closing hole.
He found the fairway off the tee, then hit his approach 25 feet left of the flag on the fringe. Wagner drained that birdie putt for good measure, but the result was academic.
'This event is run as much as a PGA TOUR event as I can imagine,' said Wagner. 'Hopefully, I'll get to find out next year. I loved coming here year after year.'
Michael Putnam went out early and fired a 7-under 64. He tied for third place with Cliff Kresge (65), Jeff Quinney (66), Paul Gow (66) and Jeff Klauk (68) at minus-16.
Ken Duke posted an 8-under 63 to share eighth place with former Ryder Cupper Chip Beck (67), John Mallinger (68), Deane Pappas (68), Peter Tomasulo (68) and Jamie Broce (69). The group came in at 15-under-par 269.
Ryan Armour shared the third-round lead with Bowden, but struggled on Sunday. He only managed a 1-over 73 and finished in a group tied for 17th at minus-13.
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