GREER - Mark Anderson was safely on the 17th green when he finally received confirmation regarding his stature Sunday as the runaway leader of the BMW Charity Pro-Am.
The Beaufort native and University of South Carolina product had previously been oblivious other than knowing he was playing outstanding golf and his first peek at one of the rare scoreboards revealed a four-stroke advantage that would ultimately end in a five-shot victory for his first professional win.
"I had no idea what was going on, and there aren't too many scoreboards out here anyway so I didn't get a chance to see one until 17," Anderson said. "I think I did such a good job of just trying to focus on every single shot and kind of lost track of what was going on. I had absolutely no idea what I'd shot when I got into the scorer's tent. I only knew that I'd won.
"That's the state of mind I wish I was in every tournament. Something happened, and I just felt so comfortable out there."
The 27-year-old Anderson carded a final-round 6-under 65 at Thornblade Club and was 27 under overall to best runner-up Tom Hoge by five shots after entering the day with only a one-shot lead over playing partner Franklin Corpening. Chesson Hadley carded 27 on the front-nine and a 63 overall to tie Michael Connell and Corpening for third at six back.
Anderson also won the team portion of the pro-am with amateur partner Todd Justice at 43 under.
Anderson, a former S.C. Junior and S.C. Amateur champion, posted the fifth-lowest winning score (259) in Web.com Tour history, and his 27 under matched the third-lowest. He earned $117,000 to move from No. 133 to ninth on the money list with $124,535. He opened with a course-record 63 at The Reserve at Lake Keowee before a 67 at Chanticleer and Saturday's 64 at Thornblade while recording a whopping 28 birdies.
"To have won the junior and the amateur and then get my first professional win in my home state, you can't ask for more than that," Anderson said. "It means everything. This is tremendous and there's a lot of people I owe this to and I think the S.C. Golf Association and Junior Golf Association definitely deserves a lot of credit. They produce a lot of great champions, and I'm just happy to be one of them now.
"Without a doubt this is the highlight of my career. I've had some good finishes, but there's nothing that replaces winning. The feeling I had when I tapped in to win was something like I've never experienced and hopefully I'll experience it again."
Anderson birdied his first two holes and four of his first seven, but couldn't shake Corpening, who was trying to join former Clemson standout Jonathan Byrd as the lone rookies to win the event. After a bogey at the ninth his lead remained only one.
Anderson finally seized control at the par-3 11th when he knocked a 5-iron to 15 feet and sank the birdie putt while Corpening left his 6-iron short, hit a poor chip, and then two-putted for bogey to increase the deficit to three. Anderson would birdie the next hole as well while his partner parred to add one more to the lead.
"(No. 11) was a great birdie and a real momentum-swinger for me and it was like stealing one there because it's a tough hole," Anderson said. "It was nice to get to several under par for the round because that's what you've got to do at Thornblade."
The only player left on the course within striking distance was 23-year-old Hoge, who birdied Nos. 11, 15 and 16 on the back before finishing with a bogey. The second-year Web.com player received $70,200 for his best career finish to vault to 19th on the money list.
"I got off to a slow start (Sunday), but I knew if I stayed patient there could be a lot more birdies to come," Hoge said. "I'm proud of the way I hung in there and I hit the ball beautifully from the fourth hole on. I'm happy with the way I played and hopefully I can keep this going."
Anderson brushed the edge of the cup with an 8-foot birdie look at the 16th before lipping out a 25-foot birdie try at No. 17, but by that time was in cruise control. Finally knowing just how large a lead he held on that next to last green, he began the long walk to the 18th tee.
"I was really just talking to myself and trying to remain in the moment and not think about too many shots ahead, just get my tee shot in the fairway," Anderson said.
He actually hooked a 3-wood into the left trees and even not knowing the final destination of his drive couldn't prevent a huge grin as he turned and handed the club to his caddie. The ball was plenty playable and three shots later he was tapping in for the win.
"I was pretty numb," Anderson said. "It's the culmination of a lot of hard work and a lot of effort by a lot of people to get me where I am."