Former Clemson golfer Hendrix claims eGolf Professional Tour opener at Palmetto Hall

sfastenau@beaufortgazette.comFebruary 18, 2013 

Matt Hendrix knew better.

In the middle of No. 10 fairway on Palmetto Hall's Robert Cupp course, Hendrix was only 218 yards out. He could have easily reached the par-5 in two. But the wind was tricky, a pond fronted the green and the pin was tucked front left. Fourteen players would end up making double bogey or worse on the 10th during the final round.

Maybe in his earlier years as a tour professional, Hendrix would have gambled. But the seasoned pro laid up, flipped a wedge to 2 feet and made birdie. He glanced at his first leaderboard of the day after that, saw he had an eight-shot lead during the final round of the eGolf Professional Tour's Palmetto Hall Championship and allowed himself to relax.

The former Clemson golfer, who has played on the PGA Tour and Web.com Tour, coasted to victory in the developmental eGolf Tour's season-opener, finishing 15 under to win by five shots and claim $18,000. The tournament was a tuneup for what the Greenville resident hopes is a successful couple of Web.com tournaments next month.

Hendrix, a top amateur who played on Clemson's 2003 national championship team and in the Walker Cup, earned his first significant victory as a professional. His only other triumph came in a 2011 NGA/Hooters Tour Winter Series event.

"This was a new challenge, especially sleeping on a lead for the first time," Hendrix said.

Hilton Head Island resident Chris Epperson, two shots back to start the day and in position to win his first professional tournament, faded to third after a final round 77. A double bogey on the opening hole set the tone for a tough day, during which Epperson battled his swing and the elements, with the wind and the cold compounding his issues.

His first hole sequence included a drive right into brush behind an electrical box. He whiffed his first attempt before punching out.

"You show up one day and you can play well, you show up another day and you're not hitting your distance, you're not hitting your targets," said Epperson, who finished third on the eGolf Tour money list in 2012. "I wasn't nervous. I wasn't shaking or anything. I didn't feel like I choked; I just didn't play well."

Epperson's only birdie Sunday came on the par-5 15th. He started the tournament with three rounds in the 60s, and was giving his hometown crowd reason to cheer. But he struggled Sunday to judge distances in the wind and read greens in the shadows. He waved to the polite applause after almost chipping in for birdie on the final hole and went in to sign his scorecard, not even realizing he had held on to third place and $7,280.

"It's tough to win in your hometown," said Epperson, who advanced past the first stage of 2012 PGA Tour Qualifying School before a neck injury ended his chances at a tour card. "You want to make everybody proud. Maybe you put that extra pressure, and you don't need to."

Epperson will try again this week at the eGolf Tour's Oldfield Open. Hendrix headed back to Greenville to relax and practice before traveling to South America.

Today is Hendrix's son's birthday. Three years ago, Hendrix withdrew from the Palmetto Hall Championship after the first round when his wife went into labor.

He got his chance to finish Sunday, riding a conservative approach. His birdie on No. 10 was his second straight, after hitting a 4-iron off the tee on the par-4 ninth.

"I think playing all the tours, I've realized what does win tournaments," Hendrix said. "I've had a chance to play with some big names. It's never as much as you think."

eGolf Tour Palmetto Hall Championship

Palmetto Hall Plantation Club -- Robert Cupp Course

Fourth round -- Sunday

1. Matt Hendrix, $18,000, 68-67-67-71-273

2. Derek Rende, $10,000, 70-71-68-69-278

3. Chris Epperson, $7,280, 69-67-68-77-281

4. Bruce Woodall, $5,000, 72-67-71-72-282

5. Nick Bova, $2,800, 71-68-77-67-283

5. Paul Brown, $2,800, 69-72-73-69-283

5. Adam Mitchell, $2,800, 75-69-70-69-283

8. Connor Arendell, $2,400, 73-65-74-72-284

9. Brent Delahoussaye, $2,350.00, 73-66-74-72-285

10. Frank Adams III, $2,300, 71-71-72-72-286

11. David Chung, $2,150, 70-68-77-72-287

11. Michael Carbone, $2,150, 76-67-73-71-287

11. Taylor Floyd, $2,150, 66-74-75-72-287

11. T.J. Howe, $2,150, 70-70-73-74-287

11. Jesse Smith, $2,150, 70-67-73-77-287

16. Seamus Power, $1,875, 73-72-72-71-288

16. Cam Burke, $1,875, 72-68-74-74-288

16. Matthew Ryan, $1,875, 73-69-72-74-288

16. Joey McLister, $1,875, 69-69-75-75-288

16. Matt Eschenburg, $1,875, 70-68-74-76-288

16. Fielding Brewbaker, $1,875, 72-66-72-78-288

22. Jeff Sorenson, Blaine, MN, $1,587.50, 72-73-72-72-289

22. Ben Lee, $1,587.50, *72-71-72-74-289

22. Birgir Hafthorsson,$1,587.50, 72-73-70-74-289

22. Garland Green, $1,587.50, 73-68-79-69-289

22. Fergal Rafferty, $1,587.50, 70-68-75-76-289

22. Kyle Bradley, $1,587.50, 71-71-72-75-289

28. Chris Gallagher, $1,425, 71-71-75-73-290

28. Nathan Sutherland, $1,425, 72-74-69-75-290

28. Ryan Gildersleeve, $1,425, 71-73-70-76-290

28. Chris Naegel, $1,425, 68-74-77-71-290

28. Daniel Woltman, $1,425, 70-71-70-79-290

33. Jack Fields, $1,337, 71-70-76-74-291

33. Wes Roach, $1,337.50, 66-73-72-80-291

35. Will Collins, $1,212.50, 72-72-73-75-292

35. Barrett Kelpin, $1,212.50, 75-71-71-75-292

35. Robbie Greenwell, $1,212.50, 69-75-74-74-292

35. Timothy Madigan, $1,212.50, 71-70-77-74-292

35. Thomas Curtis, $1,212.50, 66-74-78-74-292

35. David Robinson, $1,212.50, 71-71-72-78-292

35. Jon Kennedy, $1,212.50, 69-73-72-78-292

35. Joshua Brock $1,212.50, 69-74-70-79-292

43. Thomas Smith, $1,016.25, 73-68-75-77-293

43. Paul Ferrier, $1,016.25, 70-72-76-75-293

43. James White, $1,016.25, 72-72-74-75-293

43. Eric Shriver, $1,016.25, 76-69-73-75-293

43. Clark Klaasen, $1,016.25, 71-70-73-79-293

43. Lanto Griffin, $1,016.25, 73-72-74-74-293

43. Chris Baker, $1,016.25, 71-74-76-72-293

43. Drew Weaver, $1,016.25, 68-72-73-80-293

51. Martin Jeppesen, $900, 72-74-70-78-294

51. Conrad Shindler, $900, 70-70-74-80-294

51. Greg Doherty, $900, 73-73-73-75-294

54. Travis Ross, $850.00, 71-72-76-76-295

54. Raphael Marguery, $850, 75-71-74-75-295

56. Christian Brand, $803.33, 72-69-77-78-296

56. Henry Zaytoun, $803.33, 78-68-75-75-296

56. George Bryan IV, $803.33, 71-73-78-74-296

59. Chris McCartin, $775, 74-72-76-75-297

59. Mike Furci, $775, 77-69-78-73-297

61. Jonathan Fricke, $760, 72-73-78-75-298

62. Jake Scott, $745, 68-77-76-78-299

62. Olafur Loftsson, $745, 69-73-80-77-299

64. Gregg LaVoie, $725, 70-68-79-83-300

64. Brad Arrington, $725, 74-70-80-76-300

66. Tanner Ervin, $700, 73-72-74-82-301

66. Rafael Campos, $700, 72-73-77-79-301

66. Adam Stephenson, $700, 74-72-78-77-301

69. Luke Hart, $665, 71-75-75-82-303

69. Paul Woodbury, $665, 73-71-78-81-303

69. Matt Hill, $665, 74-70-80-79-303

69. Will Golden, $665, 72-74-80-77-303

73. Shawn Jasper, $640, 74-71-78-81-304

74. Preston Dembowiak, $630, 74-72-78-81-305

75. Andrew (a) Jacobson, $620, 69-75-80-82-306

76. Brad Benjamin, $610, 72-69-87-79-307

77. Jake Amos, $600, 71-75-84-81-311

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