Billy Wingerd, a recent Overlea High graduate, survived a final-hole bogey to win the seventh annual Spring Publinx Championship at Pine Ridge Golf Course yesterday.
In winning his first major title, Wingerd finished with a par-72 for a 36-hole total of 1-under-par 142, followed by first-round leader Larry Cronise at 76-143. Tim Elliott and Phil Novak, making his appearance in a Publinx event in some 20 years, were tied for third (144 total).
At the 18th tee, Wingerd, 18, had a two-stroke advantage over Cronise, 26, who had settled down after a rocky start. Hitting their third shots on the 496-yard hole, Wingerd ended in the back left bunker.
Cronise then sent a wedge shot within 3 1/2 feet of the cup. Wingerd's explosion shot ran 30 feet above the hole, from where he putted superbly down to 2 feet.
Cronise then eased the pressure on the leader when his birdie putt slid by the hole. Wingerd tapped in for victory.
"I knew I had to make the putt to tie. It just didn't go in," Cronise said. He started the round the same way, bogeying three of the first five holes. He got to the turn tied with Wingerd after starting with a three-shot margin.
"I had four three-putts in the round, but one at the 14th was a killer," said Cronise, who had a chance for birdie from 8 feet, knocked it by and then missed coming back.
Said Wingerd: "He struggled early. I knew all I had to do was hit the shots. I hit it well but was tentative on the greens. The whole day, I just tried to play my game."
Aside from some junior tournament victories, the closest Wingerd had come to a title was a runner-up finish in last year's BMGC match-play event.
Bob Lentz, in the hunt at the time, never found his tee shot at the 18th and wound up with a double bogey that left him tied with Drew Forrester at 145. Among the three at 146 were teen-agers A. J. Bachman and Chris Baloga.(Results, Page 9D)