June 26, 2003
Clemson, SC – Former Clemson golfer Ben Duncan and Greenville, SC native, won his first professional tournament Thursday when he captured the Gateway Tour’s HLDS Classic at Wild Wing in Myrtle Beach, SC. Duncan fired a final round 67 and won in a playoff over Kevin Gessino-Kraft.
It was just the fourth professional tournament for Duncan, who has played three Gateway tour events and one Hooter’s Tour event since helping Clemson to its first National Championship on May 30.
He actually made the cut in two pro tournaments in one week last week when he finished 13th on Gateway Tour at the LG Electronics Classic, then made the cut and finished 35th at the Port City Azalea Classic on the Hooter’s Tour. Those events were held in the Myrtle Beach area and played over seven consecutive days, which allowed him to play in both events.
Duncan won a first-prize check of $12,500 with his victory on the Gateway Tour on Thursday. He had rounds of 66-68-67 for a 201 total, 15-under-par. He had 17 birdies and just two bogeys for the 54-hole event, including birdies on 17 and 18 on Thursday to force a playoff. Both birdie putts were inside seven feet.
On the playoff hole, a par 4 10th-hole that is 444 yards in distance, Duncan drove the ball in the rough, while Gessino-Kraft hit his tee shot in the middle of the fairway. But, Duncan hit his approach to nine feet, while his competitor was 20 feet away with his second shot. After Gessino-Kraft missed his birdie attempt, Duncan made his, giving him the title.
“It has been a hectic couple of weeks,” said Duncan, who has played in a professional tournament in 10 of the last 11 days. “The key for me was consistency, not making bogeys and keeping the ball in the fairway as much as possible. It feels great to get a victory.”
Duncan was a key to Clemson’s national championship victory at Karsten Creek in Oklahoma in May. His score counted towards Clemson’s team score in each of the last three rounds, including the second round when his 73 was the top round of the day by a Clemson golfer.
Duncan has a scoring average of 69.62 for his nine rounds on the Gateway Tour. Five of his nine rounds have been in the 60s. After a week off, Duncan returns to action on the Gateway Tour July 8.
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