Scott Stallings strolled down the fairway on the 18th hole of the True South Classic, smiling and waving to a few fans like he didn’t have a care in the world.
There would be no final-hole drama at Annandale Golf Club. He had this one all wrapped up.
Stallings shot a 4-under 68 in the final round on Sunday to beat Jason Bohn by two strokes. It was his first Tour victory of the year and the second of his career. He finished with a 24-under 264, which is a tournament record at Annandale.
With a few holes remaining, it looked as if the True South Classic would host a tight finish. But Stallings made back-to-back birdies on 16 and 17 to suck all the suspense right out of the final hole.
”It made that tee shot on 18 a lot easier,” Stallings said with a grin.
Bohn shot a 5-under 67 on Sunday. Billy Horschel was alone in third, four strokes back.
The 27-year-old Stallings raced up the leaderboard after shooting back-to-back 64s in the second and third rounds. That gave him a one-stroke lead over Horschel heading into the final day.
Stallings wasn’t quite as spectacular Sunday, but didn’t need to be. Instead, he was steady, methodically working his way around the course, avoiding major trouble and picking up occasional birdies.
”He played really well, swung the club well, made the putts when he needed to make the putts, and that’s the way you win,” Horschel said.
Stallings had a two-shot lead by the turn, but made his only real mistake on No. 14, hitting his tee shot far to the right, which caused his only bogey of the day. It was a surprising mistake simply because Stallings had been so good for so long — he had gone 54 holes without a bogey.
But he recovered, responding with one of his best shots of the tournament two holes later on No. 16, sticking the approach within three feet for a short birdie putt.
He birdied 17 after another pinpoint approach shot, making a 12-footer for a three-stroke lead.
Bohn made a birdie on 18, but it didn’t matter. Stallings hit a short putt for par that won the tournament.
”Obviously, it’s a special week,” Stallings said. ”Anytime you win on the PGA Tour it’s special. A lot of things and people went into winning this tournament, and I’m very thankful.”
The victory was another sign Stallings is moving closer to his 2011 form, when he won nearly $2 million and finished 41st on the PGA Tour money list in his rookie season.
But he’s struggled through much of 2012 because of various injuries — including torn cartilage in his ribs and two herniated disks in his back — making the cut in just five of 18 events before blazing through Annandale. Stallings said the rib injury suffered in January was the most painful, and it took him about five months to fully recover.
He also worked some with a sports psychologist to get back his mental edge.
”I hurt my confidence and hurt everything that came along with it,” Stallings said. ”I learned a lot of lessons through that.”
Now he feels fully healthy — physically and mentally.
Annandale was drenched by heavy rain for much of the past week, and the soft, slow fairways and greens led to nearly ideal conditions for low scores.
David Brandt can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/davidbrandtAP