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With drama, Floridian finally breaks through
Johnson, long-time Knox Open player, beats Iles on second playoff hole with birdie

In several previous Knoxville Open efforts, Kevin Johnson had never sniffed title contention.

But then came what might have been the most dramatic finish in Knoxville Nationwide Tour history. Johnson, a 42-year-old Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., resident, tapped in a one-foot birdie putt on the second playoff hole at 18 to win the 20th Annual Knoxville Open Presented by Food City.

Trailing third-round leader David McKenzie, Melbourne, Australia, by three strokes entering final round play at Fox Den Country Club Sunday, June 14, Johnson parred the 18th in regulation (20-under, 268) — barely missing a six-foot putt to win —while McKenzie missed a 10-foot par putt to drop out of contention.

“I’ve been out here for years ... the fans are unbelievable ... this is as many fans as I’ve seen,” Johnson said. “I wasn’t sure I’d have a chance today with Dave being up by three ... I wasn’t expecting Dave to check out early.”

That left Bradley Iles, a New Zealand native from Scottsdale, Ariz., to battle Johnson in a sudden-death playoff on 18. Iles fought out of a fairway bunker and sank a do-or-die six-foot birdie putt to match Johnson’s eight-foot birdie on the first playoff hole.

“I was nervous as heck,” Johnson said. “I was fortunate to get that first one to go in.”

Iles left an 10-foot birdie putt barely short on the second playoff hole at 18, and Johnson’s tap in resulted in his second Tour win in three weeks. Johnson pocketed the $94,500 first-place check and, now No. 2 in Nationwide Tour earnings at $253,445, almost is assured of a spot on the 2010 PGA Tour (top 25 Nationwide money leaders annually advance).


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