Ryan Spears' first professional golf victory feels even sweeter since it was on native soil.
Spears, from Del City, outlasted Ryan Blaum on the third extra hole to win the Buffalo Run Casino Classic Saturday at Peoria Ridge Golf Course.
"It feels amazing, especially my first win being in my home state," said Spears, who played collegiate golf at Wichita State before joining the NGA/Hooters Tour. "You can't ask for anything better than that. I wish my family could have been here, but other than that, what a better setting: the last tournament as a Hooters event and being in Oklahoma and being an Oklahoma native. That is all you can ask for."
The tournament brought the curtain down on the 2011 season and it was the last event under the sponsorship of Hooters of America.
The national restaurant chain announced last month it would be dropping sponsorship of the developmental golf organization.
Spears and Blaum, from Coral Gables, Fla., finished regulation tied at 22-under 266.
The playoff was the second in the past three years at the BRCC.
Teddy Potter needed four extra holes to beat Martin Flores in 2009. Both were tied at the end of regulation at 20-under par 268.
Spears pocketed $28,000 for his efforts and received an unrestricted exemption for the Nationwide Tour's Children's Hospital Classic in Chattanooga, Tenn., on Oct. 6-9.
"I kinda wish I had won a different way, not him making a bogey.," Spears said.
Blaum - who bagged the Woodcreek Classic two weeks ago for his third NGA/Hooters Tour win - took advantage of struggles by Spears down the stretch, making up a four-shot deficit with five holes remaining.
He strung together four birdies in a row and pulled even at 22-under par on No. 17.
Each player parred No. 18 to force the playoff.
Spears had a birdie putt on the first hole lip out, sending the pair to No. 17, where each had a par.
Finally on the final extra hole - No. 18 again - Blaum buried a fairway shot in the middle of the front bunker, then he two-putted for a bogey.
Spears' second shot wound up 15 feet from the cup, and he again two-putted, but it was good enough to end the marathon.
"He was making some 25-footers, which isn't easy to do on these greens," Blaum said. "That's when I knew I needed to play aggressive, make something happen and keep the pressure on him. I was able to at least tie him."
Blaum said he remained confident he could catch Spears down the stretch.
"I told myself I just had to make some birdies and see what happens," Blaum said. 'You never know in this game. You can be four down with two go to and tie it up. You don't give up in this game."
Blaum, a former Duke Blue Devil, now has three wins and three seconds on the NGA/Hooters Tour.
"You can't hang your head after fighting hard for the last five holes," he said.
Blaum of Coral Gables, Fla., earned $13,981 for the runner-up finish, pushing his season earnings to nearly $70,000.
"After that putt went by, for a moment I thought 'did I actually win? This can't be over yet?' because of all the putts and the lip-outs we'd had in the playoffs," Spears said. "I thought we were going to be out there until dark."
Andrew Landry of Groves, Texas, fired a 5-under 67 in the final round of the event to finish third at 20-under par.
Lee Williams (Alexander City, Ala.) and David Skinns (Lincoln, England) carded 67s and finished in a tie for fourth at 19-under par.
Michael Whitehead (Sugarland, Texas) finished sixth at 18-under par.
Kyle Morris of Columbus, Ohio - one of four players who shared the lead on the first day - finished in a tie for seventh at 17-under with Jack Newman (Des Moines, Iowa) and Roberto Diaz (Myrtle Beach, S.C.).
Martin Maritz of Broken Arrow had the low round of the tournament Saturday, a 10-under 62. That lifted him from a tie for 42nd into a tie for 12th.