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Pernice birdies final hole to win Champions Tour debut

Murrieta resident and UCLA graduate is 15th player to win in debut on over-50 circuit.

BY ELI MILLERPublished: September, 2009

As soon as his 35-foot birdie putt on the final hole found the bottom of the cup, Tom Pernice made Champions Tour history — and established himself as a force to be reckoned with on the over-50 circuit.

The Murrieta resident and UCLA graduate bested Nick Price and David Frost by a stroke in the SAS Championship at Prestonwood Country Club in Cary, N.C., over the weekend, becoming the 15th player ever to win in his debut start on the Champions Tour.

Pernice played nearly flawless golf over 54 holes, making only one bogey — on the par-4 ninth during Sunday’s final round. He erased that error with a birdie on the par-4 15th before making another birdie on the 18th to prevail. He shot a 3-under-par 69 in the final round to go with a pair of 67s in the first two rounds.

A two-time PGA Tour winner, Pernice has never been one of the flashiest touring professionals, instead relying on a solid tee-to-green game and a streaky touch with his putter. His win at the SAS Championship suggests he is serious about the next phase of his career, and he could very well be a factor in the race for the 2010 Charles Schwab Cup.