2002: Buy.com Tour - Ridings hits it big with 1st triumph

Midland, Texas

On Aug. 25, Tag Ridings won the Texas lottery – almost.

“I feel like I won the lottery except for the fact that I got gipped out of winning $70 million,” said Ridings. “This is unbelievable . . . I couldn’t have dreamed it up any better.”

Actually, Ridings won $76,500 for winning the Buy.com Tour Permian Basin Open with an eagle hole-out on the first playoff hole with Mark Hensby.

Ridings holed a 138-yard pitching wedge for the winning margin of the rookie’s first Buy.com Tour victory. Hensby never had a chance to attempt his 15-foot birdie putt in the playoff.

Ridings (69) and Hensby (71) finished at 16-under 272, two shots ahead of Brian Claar. Entering the Permian Basin, Ridings had only two top 10s in 17 events, and hadn’t finished better than a tie for 20th in his last seven events.

Both players were lucky to make the playoff. With a one-shot lead over Hensby, Ridings double-bogeyed the par-4 17th hole. Hensby made bogey on No. 17 to fall into a tie with Ridings at 16 under. Both players parred No. 18.

“After making double bogey, I was just lucky to be in the playoff,” said Ridings, who moved to No. 14 on the money list ($127,337). “That was really disheartening at the time. But the finish was a beautiful thing.”

Hensby might have won the tournament in regulation, but his 12-foot birdie on the final hole just slid by.

“Under the pressure to win, I hit a perfect putt,” said Hensby. “Then in the playoff, I hit a decent shot on the green and would have had a chance to win if Tag wouldn’t have holed his shot to win. But those things happen from time to time.”

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