Trailing by seven shots, it would have taken a near-perfect round for Drew Laning to come from behind to win the third annual Colbert Charity Classic on Saturday at Colbert Hills.
The Little Rock, Ark., native was just about perfect, and got some breaks along the way to win the tournament by three shots.
It’s the first win for Laning in his eight-year professional career, and his best finish since taking second more than five years ago. The win earns Laning $16,500.
Laning came into the day shooting 7-under on the weekend and trailing tournament leader Sam Fidone of Lufkin, Texas, by seven shots. Lufkin shot three-over par in the final round, while Laning tied the course record by shooting an 8-under par, 64.
It’s the second time the course record has been tied by a Colbert Classic winner, as Chris Marshall did so in 2012.
“I knew I had to shoot in the mid 60s to have a chance, but I needed a lot of help,” Laning said. “The guy in the lead had a six-shot lead, seven over me. I got off to a great start, birdied the first three holes, turned pretty well, didn’t know how anybody was doing, but figured I was within two or three (shots).
“I birdied 12 and when I got up to 13 I saw I had a two-shot lead.”
From there, Laning said his playing partner Chris D. Thompson (Lawrence) helped push him to the win. Thompson, who also entered the final round at 7-under, shot 5-under on Saturday to finish second. Fidone finished third at 11-under for the week.
Former Kansas State golfer Mitchell Gregson (Waterloo, Ill.) took 10th after shooting even on the final day to finish the weekend at 10-under par.
“I had one round where I was really sharp, and the other rounds I was just getting it around and making minor mistakes here and there,” Gregson said. “I was steady but not as sharp as I could be, it was a solid week for me.”
Gregson said Laning’s final round shows how challenging a course Colbert can be, and thought it was an impressive showing by the tournament winner.
“Anything can happen around here at Colbert Hills,” he said. “You can shoot an 80 just like that. To do what he did and tie the course record in the final round, in addition to all the pressure, it’s one of the best scores in course history. That just speaks to itself.”
Albert Miner (Katy, Texas) came in fourth after shooting 10-under, while Blake Trimble (Houston) dropped from second to fifth on the final day, finishing at 9-under.
Laning said he thought his hard work from the last year paid off in the wind. To improve his game, he said he went through a swing changed and simplified his game.
Laning came close to winning a tournament earlier this season in Miami, Okla., entering the final round in the lead, but shooting 79 to finish 28th.
The $16,500 first-place prize is the highest amount Laning has won since a $14,000 prize while golfing on the Web.com tour.
“It’s crazy,” he said. “Definitely nothing at the beginning of the day at the first tee that made me thing I’d be standing there at the end of the day in first. I got some breaks and was lucky, but played well on the way in. It was a lot of fun.”