AIKEN -- Jason Martin's march to victory in the Palmetto Amateur wasn't triumphant, just acceptable.
"You take a win anyway you can," said the 21-year-old Martin, a resident of Lenoir, N.C., and a UNC-Greensboro golfer.
Martin, the overnight leader by one shot, slipped to a 4-over-par 75 in the final round at the Palmetto Golf Club. After striking for seven birdies in the second round, he bagged just two in the final one.
Thanks to opening rounds of 72-67, Martin finished at 1-over-par 214 for a two-shot victory in the season-concluding Regions Cup tournament. It came in Martin's first trip to Palmetto.
"I'm surprised no one made a charge, but it was tough out there," Martin said. "It was a little windy. A couple of the longer holes were into the wind. It's tough hitting long irons into the greens and making them stop."
Tell that to Mark Wagner of Statesville, N.C., and Mark Gaynor of Nells, Mich., who trailed Martin by one and two shots, respectively, entering the final round. Both shot 77.
"I thought I'd have to shoot at least even par or one over at worst for the day to win," Martin said.
Kris Hannah of Tallahassee, Fla., did make a move, but he was too far back to start with. Hannah, who begins his junior year today at Florida State, turned in his second straight 70. The problem was he was seven shots
behind Martin at the start of the day. An opening 76, which included two double bogeys, put Hannah in a catch-up mode.
"It usually takes me a while to get adjusted, not just to the course, but to the environment," said Hannah, who was making his Palmetto Amateur debut.
Hannah, the highest-finishing minority golfer in Palmetto Amateur history, tied for second place with North Augusta's Lance Jones and Furman golf coach Todd Satterfield of Greer, S.C. Jones and Satterfield shot 73.
It was the highest finish in a Regions Cup event for the 44-year-old Jones, who started playing on the circuit in 1992.
"It was hard to shoot a low score today because of the combination of the wind and the hard greens," Jones said.
If Jones had not lipped out a 30-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole and missed a 5-foot birdie try on No. 18, he would have been in a playoff with Martin. Jones still shot 1-under-par 35 on the back nine.
"It's a good way to end the season," Jones said. "It's always hard on the back nine with the pressure of the tournament. To shoot one under and have chances for birdies on the final two holes, I'm pleased."
One of Martin's five bogeys came on the 17th hole, where he three-putted.
"I gave some guys an opportunity to win that I shouldn't have," Martin said. "I hit a whole lot of solid shots, but I hit them in some tough places. There were some pins that were tough and tricky."
"I was probably a little surprised Jason didn't play as well as he's capable of today," Satterfield said.
The problem was Martin's putting. A day after he needed just 24 putts, Martin couldn't buy one Sunday.
"I was a little anxious, maybe," Martin said. "I had so much confidence from yesterday I was still trying to make everything. My stroke was a little quick with the longer putts. Sometimes I was leaving it short or rolling it by. You can't do that on these greens."
Last year, Michael Carlisle of Aiken won the tournament with a 7-under-par 206 total. Martin, who was three under par entering the final round, said he was hoping to match Carlisle's mark. As it turned out, Martin didn't even finish under par for the tournament.
"I hate shooting over par and winning the tournament," Martin said. "Michael Carlisle shot so well to win it last year. That's just how it goes sometimes."
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