By Stacy M. Brown
Special to NNPA Newswire
SOUTHAMPTON, BERMUDA – APGA Tour star Willie Mack III emerged victorious in a three-man playoff thanks to a tap-in par on the first extra hole, capturing the Butterfield Bermuda APGA Championship at Port Royal Golf Course.
It was the first international competition in the history of the burgeoning APGA Tour.
First round leader Joseph Hooks of Farmington Hills, Michigan, and Marcus Byrd of Washington, DC joined Mack in the playoff after a competitive back nine left them all at four-under-par 138.
The threesome replayed 18 and Mack secured his par before Byrd and Hooks missed the putts needed to extend the battle.
Mack won the first-place check of $15,000 from the purse of $60,000, the fourth largest in the history of the APGA Tour.
Mack, the 34-year-old stalwart from Flint, Michigan, now carries another tournament win into the second stage of Korn Ferry Tour Q-School next week at Plantation Preserve Golf Club in Plantation, Florida, where he hopes breakthrough following multiple near-misses in recent years.
He has upwards of 70 wins on the APGA Tour and mini-tours over the years and made the cut in two PGA TOUR events during the summer of 2021 as part of his journey in professional golf. Mack advanced out of the first stage of Korn Ferry Tour Q-School last month at Championsgate Golf Club in Florida.
Mack sank a 20-foot birdie putt on the first hole Wednesday to start his charge from three strokes back and all three held the lead down the stretch in windy conditions on the 6,842-yard par 71 Port Royal layout.
The PGA TOUR’s Butterfield Bermuda Championship will be contested at Port Royal later this month (Oct. 27-30).
“I tried not to make mistakes today,” stated Mack, who battled injuries earlier in the year and is now feeling confident with next week’s challenge on deck.
“My putting was there today when I needed it. Hopefully I can bring what I accomplished this week into next week. It was good to play a PGA TOUR-level course these last two days.”
Christian Heavens of Fairview Heights, Illinois, finished in fourth place at 71-68-139 with Joey Stills of Orlando in fifth at 71-70-141 and Ryan Alford of Shreveport, Louisiana, in sixth at even par 142.
APGA Tour Player of the Year Kamaiu Johnson of Oviedo, Florida, and Aaron Grimes of Compton, California, tied for seventh.
Among the Bermudian participants in the tournament, Damian Palanyandi shot 73-75-148, finishing 13th; Camiko Smith shot 78-76-154, finishing 18th; Oliver Betschart carded a 74-83-157 for 20th; and Cory Desilva registered a 87-78-165, placing 21st.
The invitational tournament was hosted and sponsored by the Bermuda Tourism Authority, Butterfield, The Hamilton Princess and Beach Club and Life & Annuity Services (LAS).
The APGA Tour’s Farmers Insurance Fall Series resumes later this month with the APGA Tour Charlie Sifford Centennial at Kingswood Forest Golf Club, October 25-26, in Houston, Texas.
Byrd, winner of APGA Tour Valley Forge, and Brad Adamonis, winner of the Ascension Classic/APGA Tour St. Louis, are tied atop the Fall Series Point Standings with 600 points.
The season culminates Nov. 8-10 with the APGA Tour Farmers Insurance Fall Series Finale at Tustin Ranch Golf Club in Tustin Ranch, California.
The APGA Tour was established in 2010 with the mission to bring greater diversity to the game of golf by hosting and operating professional golf tournaments, player development programs, mentoring programs, and introducing the game to inner-city young people.
The tour has grown from seven events with $200,000 in prize money in 2020 and 14 events with over $400,000 in prize money in 2021, to 18 events with over $900,000 in prize and bonus money in 2022.