From the Long Beach Press-Telegram
by Scott French
LONG BEACH, CALIF (August 1, 2010) -- It was a moment Vincent Johnson had hoped for: 18th green, 2-foot putt, and a celebration to follow.
He missed the putt.
Fortunately, he had room for error, so he settled for a two-shot triumph Sunday at the Long Beach Open golf tournament, winning his first professional title after leader Danny Wax faltered down the stretch and Ryan Dillon's superb run was derailed by a wrist injury.
Johnson, 24, from Portland, Ore., fired his third sub-70 round at El Dorado Park Golf Course to take home $29,000 in the 21 st edition of the tournament. A 4-under-par 68 gave him a 16-under 272, one shot better than he fired in last year's event when he finished 12 stokes behind runaway winner Tyrone Van Aswegen.
"This feels great," said Vincent, who played golf at Oregon State University. "It's still a little surreal, just because of not knowing (where you stand). There's no scoreboards, so you're kind of just playing your own game. You know what your group's doing, but that's not everything.
"To come out on top is great. I love this tournament. Hopefully, I'll be on a bigger tour, but if not, I'd love to come back."
Johnson started in the final group, just one shot behind Wax, the third-round leader, who looked like he might sprint to victory over the first 10 holes. Wax dropped five shots from the 13 th through the 16 th holes, and Johnson's steady play - he parred all four, then made a 14-foot birdie putt at 17 - won out.
"I got a couple putts to drop and just kind of hung in there," Johnson said. "Getting that one on 17 ... I thought had to get two more with five (holes) to play, so the one on 17 felt good. I thought I had it at that point.
Eric Meichtry, who shot his third straight 68, and second-round leader Mike Ruiz, who finished 72-70 after posting 67 in the first round and 65 in the second, tied for second. Cerritos' Garrett Sapp fired 66, the day's best score, and finished three strokes behind, along with Dillon, Van Aswegen and Matthew Giles.
Wax, who birdied four holes to get to 17-under by the 10 th hole, and 2001 champion Doug Garwood finished in a group four shots off. Scott Travers was the top amateur, shooting 279.
Wax watched his lead disappear after three-putting at 14 for a double bogey. He fell out of contention with another double bogey at 16, where he put his second shot off tree branches into a bunker, then shot into another bunker.
"Every time I hit a shot, I found myself in a bad position," Wax said. "I mean, either no sand in the bunker, no grass on the lie, in a divot. ... I hit it in the bunker, and I'm up against the lip with no sand.
"It's a matter of breaks, but also I didn't execute, and Vincent played really well. Nothing I could do."
Dillon, who started the day three shots off the lead, looked like Wax's toughest challenger after an eagle on the par-4 sixth hole - holed on a 120-yard shot with a sand wedge - and birdies at Nos. 7, 10 and 11 sent him to 16-under, just one shot behind.
Then Dillon hurt his wrist on his tee shot at 12, and the run was over.
"I have no idea what happened," he said. "It popped. It's kind of the outside of my wrist, and I heard it pop. The rest of the round, I couldn't even get through it."
He grinded out a birdie at 13, then had his wrist wrapped before teeing off at 14. It didn't feel right, so he tore off the bandage and hit his shot well into the rough on the left. The wrist was rewrapped, but it "really it didn't help much," he said. "I couldn't really swing at it."
His drives went to the left the rest of the round, and he bogeyed 14, 15 and 17 to fall back to 13-under with a final-round 69.
Johnson, who shot 67 and 68 in his first two rounds at El Dorado and 71 at Skylinks Golf Course, had five birdies and benefited from a devastating long game, driving much farther and more accurately than Wax or Peter Campbell, who also was in the final group (and shot 73 to finish five shots back).
He did well to recover when he found bunkers, saving par at 9 with a wedge shot that left him with a 6-inch tap-in.
"That one on nine really kept me in things," Johnson said. "It set me up for the back nine."
At the finish, he needed one more shot.
"Good thing I had a couple to spare," he said. "I guess in the scheme of things, it doesn't matter."