PANAMA CITY - Kevin Foley won the Web.com Tour's season-opening Panama Claro Championship on Sunday for his first tour title, holing a 15-foot birdie putt on the final hole for a one-stroke victory over Mathew Goggin.
The 25-year-old former Penn State player closed with a 3-under 67 in 93-degree heat to finish at 8-under 272 at Panama Golf Club. He earned $108,000.
"It you had told me a year ago that I'd be standing here I probably wouldn't have believed you," Foley said. "I'd take it, but I wouldn't believe it. A lot has happened in a year."
Foley joined the Web.com Tour last year after earning Special Temporary Membership status. He was a Monday qualifier at the South Georgia Classic and parlayed a tied for seventh into a start the following week, where he finished tied for seventh again. A solo fifth-place effort at the Nationwide Children's Hospital Invitational had a big enough payday for him to move into the membership category. He finished the year by making 10 cuts in 16 starts and wound up No. 52 on the final money list, good for fully-exempt status in 2013.
Goggin had a bogey, double bogey and triple bogey in his final-round 70. The 2010 champion had a chance to force a playoff with a birdie at the 465-yard 18th, but settled for par after his second shot went into a greenside bunker.
"I played really poorly for 13 holes," said Goggin, from Australia. "I wasn't playing particularly well, but I was hanging in there. You're just waiting for one or two holes or one or two shots to get you going and then
instead of a good one you have the absolute worst one."
Foley began the round tied for second, two strokes behind Goggin.
"I knew it was going to be a shootout today because there were a bunch of guys lined up to start the day," Foley said. "It wasn't the windiest day but with tough pin positions and the course getting firmer, I knew I just had to play smart and steady all day."
Scott Brown shot a 66 to finish third at 6 under, and Scott Dunlap (68), Len Mattiace (69) and Roland Thatcher (71) followed at 4 under. Jordan Spieth (66) and Bobby Gates (72) were 3 under. The 19-year-old Spieth turned professional in December 2012 after 1 1/2 years at the University of Texas.
Richard Scott of Kingston, Ont., closed with a 71 to finish 63rd out of the 64 players who made the cut. Morgan Hoffmann withdrew prior to the final round.
The tournament opened the tour's 24th season.