Sergent wins 9th invitational title at Lonesome Pine Country Club

Dave Ongie • Jul 19, 2009 at 12:00 AM

BIG STONE GAP — With the leaders stumbling toward the finish line, Bill Sergent III leaned on his extensive experience to win the 78th annual Lonesome Pine Invitational.

Sergent entered Sunday’s final round at Lonesome Pine Country Club in fifth place in the championship flight. But as the leaders struggled around the tight layout, his rock-solid round of 71 proved good enough to earn the 54-year-old his ninth Lonesome Pine Invitational title.

Sergent’s 141 put him two shots clear of Mike Poe, Lawrence Largent and Mike McCall, who tied for second.

First-round leader Adam Mahan closed with a 76 to fall into fifth place at 144.

Sergent said Tom Watson’s improbable run toward a ninth major championship at the British Open inspired him as he chased the title at LPCC.

“At least one of us old guys came through,” Sergent joked.

Unlike Watson, Sergent was able to seal the deal with a nifty up-and-down to save par out of a greenside bunker on No. 18.

Sergent said he walked to the final tee box unsure of where he stood. If he had known he was two shots ahead, he said it might have changed the way he played the hole.

“It wasn’t going to affect how I teed off, but it might have affected how I played that second shot,” Sergent said.

His layup off the tee left him in the fairway, but an aggressive swing on his lengthy approach shot put him in the sand just short of the green.

“At the course where I work now, we have really good traps like these,” Sergent said. “Probably three years ago, I couldn’t have made that shot.”

All the practice paid off as Sergent lofted his ball onto the green to within 6 feet. Moments later, he rolled his ball into the hole to save par and pumped his fist in triumph.

When the final group arrived at the clubhouse and posted its scores, Sergent’s victory became official.

In the senior flight, J.R. Smith fired a round of 69 to erase a two-shot deficit and earn the title.

Smith’s total of 142 gave him a three-shot victory over Ron McCall. Bob Ross, who entered the day tied for second with Smith, finished third at 151.

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