2005: Veazey does it with up-and-down round

Panama City, Panama

The BellSouth Panama Championship proved a springboard for Jimmy Walker, who won the 2004 event and went on to become the Nationwide Tour Player of the Year. Vance Veazey is hoping for much the same kind of boost.

Veazey opened the 2005 Nationwide Tour season Jan. 30 with a victory in Panama, not to mention a check for a career-high $94,500.

“This is by far the biggest accomplishment of my career,” Veazey said. “I am 39 years old and about to turn 40. I am getting to a point in my career where I need to start doing something. Hopefully this will be a break-out year for me.”

Veazey shot even-par 70 in the final round to finish with a tournament-record 8-under 272. Camilo Villegas (69), Jim McGovern (68), Jon Mills (70) and Shane Bertsch (70) all finished one stroke back.

“This has truly been an amazing week,” said Veazey, a native and resident of Memphis, Tenn. “You could feel the excitement in the air all day. The people of Panama are great. The crowds were awesome.

“What more can you say?”

Veazey may have finished even par for the day, but his final round was anything but mundane. He made double bogey on the second hole, then nailed a 50-foot birdie putt on No. 3. Three consecutive birdies on Nos. 6-8 provided a two-stroke lead after nine holes, but Veazey then reeled off four bogeys in the next seven holes. A chip-in birdie from 40 feet on No. 17 resulted in a one-stroke cushion heading into the final hole.

With four players watching from the sidelines hoping for a playoff, Veazey knocked in a 5-foot par putt to secure the victory.

“It was a roller-coaster day for me,” Veazey said. “I got off to a nightmare start and then my emotions were all over the place on the back nine. Someone was definitely smiling down on me today.”

It was the third victory for Veazey, who also won the 1998 Shreveport Open and 1999 Carolina Classic.

– Staff and wire reports

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