Martin unflappable in Mylan Classic win

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Kelly Kraft made a charge up the leader board Sunday, the final day of the Mylan Classic at Southpointe Golf Club near Canonsburg. But any hopes of an improbable comeback victory died when leader Ben Martin made the shot of the tournament on No. 15 to end any doubt about who would emerge victorious.

It was the second win of the season for Martin, who finished the day 4 under and was 17 under overall, as he finished strong and beat Kraft by five strokes.

More importantly, the win puts Martin second on the tour money list, leaving him only $34,435 behind Michael Putnam with three events to play.

"The goal out here is always to get the PGA card, and one win is not going to get you there but two wins will, and so that is what I wanted to do and what I set out to do," Martin said. "But to do that with three regular season events left and really, knowing that I am taking the next two weeks off, it is more like I have only one, and I had that in the back of my mind.

"But once you are in the top five, you start thinking about getting to No. 1, and I knew if I had any chance to finish No. 1, I had to win this one, and so I treated it like there was only one week left."

Kraft began the day tied for 11th and trailing Martin, who led after 54 holes, by eight strokes, but he used a flurry of birdies to pull into second place and within two strokes of the lead.

But Kraft missed an easy par putt on No. 16 to drop to three behind. Martin then eagled No. 15 to push the lead to five strokes with only three holes to play.

Martin's tee shot on No. 15, a 311-yard par 4, just missed the green and settled in the right rough about 20 feet from the hole. He then used a wedge to cut the ball out of the rough and into the cup for an eagle.

"Starting with a four-shot lead, you can get kind of defensive out there. I was just really trying to keep doing what I was trying to do all week," Martin said. "I really just use the phrase 'a shot at a time' because it is overused, that is what I really was trying to do, staying in the moment. I was trying to have some fun out there. When I am relaxed and having fun I am playing at my best.

"That chip in on 15 was huge, pushed it to four with three holes to play. I chipped in on No. 15 in Boise last Sunday, and so I had that in my head 'let's do it again.' "

Martin, who has been the hottest golfer on the tour, finished in style with birdies on Nos. 17 and 18. Martin is 96-under par in his last six starts and his scoring average in those six tournaments has been 67.17.

He has made 14 of 17 cuts this year and in 13 of those 14 cuts he has finished in the top 30, so it has been an excellent run for him, one he hopes continue for at least a few more months.

He said that the key has been his ability to keep his emotions in check, citing how he handled things after his eagle as he bogeyed the next hole but rebounded to birdie the final two.

"My plan going in was to just continue to do the things I had been doing, but I wanted to approach today like I was losing by one shot as opposed to winning by four," Martin said. "I think it is easier sometimes to play from behind than it is to play from ahead, but I stayed pretty relaxed out there. I try to flat line, don't get too up or down.

"Sometimes after you chip in for that eagle, you crash to below where you were, so after a chip in and a big shot I try to calm myself down and just say to myself, 'OK, we have three holes to play, let's finish right.' "

Kraft, meanwhile, grabbed the attention of everybody as he had four birdies in the first five holes and then five more from Nos. 9-15 to pull to within two strokes of Martin.

But he missed that par putt on No. 16 then missed a very makeable birdie putt on No. 17, effectively ending his chances for the title.

It was an important tournament for Kraft, who had ten birdies and was 7 under for the day and 12 under overall, because the second-place finish and $72,900 prize pushed him from No. 137 on the money list to No. 38.

The finish puts Kraft in contention for a spot in the playoffs (top 75 players), and he now has legitimate shot to climb into the top 25, which would automatically qualify him for his PGA Tour card.

"I just wanted to focus on myself and try to play the best I could," Kraft said. "It really has been kind of stressful not knowing what tournaments I would be able to get into, and I put a lot of pressure on myself to try and make money, but these past two weeks I have taken the attitude I am just going to play golf and let everything else take care of itself.

"It is nice now to know that because of this finish, I will be in the next three events."

Six players -- Nick Rousey, Chad Collins, Brad Elder, I.J. Chang, Ariel Canete and Whee Kim -- tied for third at 7 under. Cliff Kresge finished 9th at 6 under.

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Paul Zeise: or Twitter @paulzeise or 412-263-1720. First Published August 5, 2013 4:00 AM


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