Cole stumbles on No. 18 but still holds on for 1-stroke win at Fuhrer
Eric Cole made things interesting on the final hole of the 30th Frank B. Fuhrer Jr. Invitational on Wednesday at Pittsburgh Field Club.
The son of former Tour golfers Bobby Cole and Laura Baugh walked to No. 18 with a three-shot lead and proceeded to hit a couple errant shots.
But he sank a knee-knocking 2-foot putt for double bogey to win by one and claim the $40,000 top prize, the largest of his career. His previous largest was $19,000.
Cole, 27, of Jupiter, Fla., withstood a charge from 2013 champion Mike Van Sickle of Wexford. He finished at 5-under-par 275 after carding an even-par 70 Wednesday.
Van Sickle, who suffered from inconsistent putting, finished at 4-under and pocketed $20,000. He and Matt Schall each shot a 1-under 69, the lowest rounds of the day.
Christo Greyling began the final round tied for the lead with Cole and finished third. Waynesburg native Robert Rohanna was fourth, and Jay Woodson was fifth.
“It's just an honor to play in this event and an even bigger honor to win it,” Cole said. “That was surprising. I wasn't planning on that. I figured with all these people out here, I had to give them some kind of drama.”
Cole lost the lead only once, and that was on No. 15 after Van Sickle birdied to go to 6-under.
But birdies on Nos. 15 and 16, combined with a bogey by Van Sickle on No. 17, vaulted Cole back into the lead.
Van Sickle fell three shots back three shots when he bogeyed No. 18.
“It was really a wasteful performance on my part,” Van Sickle said. “I believe I had 22 birdies for the week, and I ended up 4-under. That is just unacceptable. The final round came down to not taking care of the putts I needed.”
Cole said the 15-foot birdie on No. 15 had a big break, and he stuck a 4-iron to within 3 feet on No. 16.
“I hit a really good shot on No. 16,” Cole said. “On No. 18, I went from no stress at all to max stress. I'm happy it worked out.
“Winning here should boost my confidence. It's nice to win a big tournament like this. The field was very good. The money allows me to go to Europe and play. That could change my career.”
Van Sickle said missing a couple of birdies cost him. Missing an 18-inch putt on No. 13 was a killer, he said.
“Those have to be automatic, and I'm having trouble with them for some reason,” Van Sickle said.
The top Tri-State PGA pro was Allegheny Country Club pro John Aber, who tied for seventh. Sean Knapp of Oakmont, a three-time winner and the only golfer to win consecutive titles, finished as the low amateur.