By Ken MacLeod
OKLAHOMA CITY – It was the most painful victory of Jim Woodward’s career, if also one of the most gratifying.
Doubled over after nearly every full swing thanks to an inflamed sciatic nerve that was sending pain shooting down his back into his right hip, Woodward gutted out a final round of 1-under 71 at Quail Creek Country Club to win the South Central Section Professional National Championship at 8-under 208.
Woodward began the day a bit sore after playing 36 holes in 7-under Monday, trailing second-round leader Cary Cozby of Wichita Country Club by a shot. He felt all right starting out, but by the fifth hole was wincing after every shot. He frequently got on the ground to stretch, but to little avail.
"Woody looked pretty bad, but it didn’t hurt his putting," said Cozby, who closed with a 2-over 74 to finish tied for second at 6-under with his former assistant Trent Rommann, who closed with a 69, the best final round in the 63-player field of club professionals from Oklahoma, Arkansas and southern Kansas.
Cozby started off slow and was 3-over early in his final round, but battled back to even after a birdie on the 10th hole. Woodward bombed in a 50-foot birdie putt on the 11th hole, then picked up another shot when Cozby bogeyed the par-3 12 hole and another with a birdie on the par-4 13th, putting him a shot ahead for the tournament.
"The great thing about hurting I guess is that I didn’t pay a lot of attention to everybody else, I was just trying to get through it," Woody said. "I was trying to invent a golf swing and fortunately Coz and Tim (Fleming) weren’t going deep and neither was anybody in front of us."
Cozby missed an opportunity to close the gap on the par-4 17th when his second shot went over the green coming to rest on a sprinkler head. His drop left him in a depression and he didn’t get up and down. Woodward’s drive had snap-hooked into trees to the left and he also made bogey.
Cozby still had a chance on the par-5 finishing hole, but his second shot was long and left him in a tough spot in rough left of the green. Woodward also missed his second shot left, but made a pitch to15 feet and rolled in the birdie putt for the two-shot margin. It was Woodward’s third victory in the PNC, having won it 2001 and 2005.
Woodward, Cozby, Rommann and Tim Fleming of Oklahoma City Golf & Country Club, who finished fifth at 5-under after a final-round 71, all qualify to move on to the Professional National Championship June 22-25 at The Dunes Club and Grand Dunes Resort Club in Myrtle Beach, S.C. The top 20 finishers there will compete in the 2014 PGA Championship in August at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Ky.
Alternates are Mark Fuller of Gaillardia Golf & Country Club at 2-under 214, Tracy Phillips of Cedar Ridge Country Club at even-par 216 and Jarod Lundy of host Quail Creek CC at 1-over 217.
Click here for complete results