Other Sports

Garber wins Rex Hospital Open with final-round 66

Joey Garber’s Twitter bio says a lot about him as a person and a golfer.

It mentions that he’s a University of Georgia golf alumnus. That he’s from Michigan but now lives in St. Simon's Island, Ga.

A final line says “Chasing my dreams.”

Garber 26, achieved a big one Sunday in the Rex Hospital Open. A 5-under-par 66 in the final round gave him a one-shot victory in the Web.com Tour event at TPC Wakefield Plantation and his first tour win.

"This is one of my dreams, for sure," Garber said. "To get a win on this tour is definitely the hardest thing I've ever done in my life. To come through today, in my first year out here and my first time in the final group means everything to me.

"It just proves I believe in myself. This is huge for me. I'm pumped. I think I've just now stopped shaking."

Garber’s 18-under 266 total made him a one-shot winner over Scott Langley, a tour winner this year, and former Florida State golfer Hank Lebioda. Langley had a chance to move to 18-under at the 18th hole, but the left-hander missed the green and parred.

Garber then parred the final hole, with a no-sweat tap-in,earning $117,000 for the victory and pushing his yearly total to $168,868. That moved him up 44 spots to sixth on the tour money list.

Garber said he was able to stay this week with tour player Ben Kohles, who lives in Cary, and noticed an old Scotty Cameron putter in Kohles' garage. He made a few tweaks to it, used it in the tournament and now has a victory -- and a putter he said he's not giving back after rounds of 66, 65, 69 and then the 66.

"I might have to bribe him but I think it's staying in my bag," Garber said.

With his long, shaggy hair and beard, Garber has the look of a country rock guitarist. An affable, easy-going type, he has tried to do his part to promote the tour and engage tour sponsors in his first year, volunteering this past week to visit the UNC Rex Healthcare's Heart and Vascular Center.

"I met some patients who had suffered heart attacks and all they could say was good things about the hospital.," Garber said. "It was very humbling and gave me a little bit of a settling feeling early in the week."

It was a little unsettling on the back nine Sunday as players took the lead, lost it, shared it. Among them was Albin Choi, a former N.C. State golfer who was in the hunt for his first tour win until a double-bogey at the 14th -- Choi shot 66 to tie for sixth.

Former Duke golfer Wes Roach had a 7-under 64, holing an 8-foot birdie putt at the last to share sixth at 15-under 269.

“I didn’t have any expectations going into the day or anything,” Roach said. “Just make as many birdies as I could. You never know."

Garber, a native of Petoskey, Mich.,, played college golf for the Michigan Wolverines as a freshman before transferring to Georgia. An All-America as a senior for the Bulldogs, he spent time on the MacKenzie Tour in Canada while trying to get through the Web.com Tour's Qualifying Tournament, tying for 30th last fall.

Langley was the proven winner among those in the back-nine shootout. He came to the Rex with a victory this year in the Panama Championship and two other top-10 finishes.

Second on the money list, the former Illinois golfer had all but assured himself playing rights on the PGA Tour next year, and could play with that comfort level down the stretch.

Garber can do that now.

  Comments