As Mike Paukovits walked to the parking lot at Northampton Country Club with his parents, Bill and Linda, the conversation turned toward a dinner destination.
There was a lot of indecision.
On the golf course, there was extremely little indecision for Paukovits during his two rounds of the GALV Lehigh Valley Open.
The Nazareth native dropped in a clutch 8-foot putt on the 18th hole during Tuesday's final round to claim the Philadelphia Section PGA event. Paukovits won with a 7-under 137. His birdie came seconds after Greg Farrow of Deerwood Country Club sank a 10-footer to finish the tournament at 6-under.
Lynn Township's Cole Miller, a Penn State recruit, was the low amateur at 5-under.
For Paukovits, the two-day stay on his home turf — with his proud parents in tow — was nothing short of perfect. Paukovits' father, Bill, who caddied at Northampton Country Club in the 1960s, worked his bag for the tournament.
"This is really special," said the 33-year-old teaching professional at St. David's Golf Club in Wayne, Delaware County. "It hasn't sunk in yet but it's so awesome. If I could've picked a place for my first Philly Section PGA victory, this would definitely be the place."
Paukovits fired a 4-under in Monday's round and was among four, Farrow included, tied for the lead entering Tuesday's final round.
He played the front nine at even par, then bogeyed No. 10 to fall a shot back on the crowded leader board. The direction of Paukovits' round changed on 13 when he holed out a 35-foot chip shot from behind the green. He sank a 15-foot birdie on 14 and a 10-footer on 16 to set the stage for the dramatic conclusion.
Farrow's birdie on the final hole preceded Paukovits' pressure-packed 8-footer.
"It was a slow start and a great finish," said Paukovits, who needed only nine putts over the final nine holes. "I kind of felt things weren't going my way through the first part of the round. I had that one birdie [on No. 3] on the front nine. What really got me going was that chip-in on 13. And my putter was incredible down the stretch."
The win was the first for Paukovits at a Philadelphia Section PGA Tour event. He tied for sixth place at the Lehigh Valley Open in 2011 and tied for second in a one-day sectional tournament at Woodcrest Country Club in 2011.
Paukovits, whose older brother Brad is the head pro at Whitetail Golf Club in Moore Township, accepted the winner's check worth $2,250.
Besides taking his parents out for dinner to celebrate, he planned to use the majority of the winnings on his wedding, scheduled for October 2015.
"I won some junior golf events before and I won a state championship at Northampton Community College," Paukovits said, "but it's taken me a while to win at this level. This is a big breakthrough. The Philly Section PGA is such a strong section, so to win this tournament against the best players in the Philadelphia area is really great."
The 18-year-old Miller, testing his talents against the pros, also enjoyed a great tournament.
His tap-in birdie on the 17th hole — he hit a 135-yard approach shot just inches from the cup — put him in a tie for the lead at 5-under. Miller missed a tough 12-foot birdie attempt on 18 to finish with a two-day total of 139. Hoping for a playoff, he then waited for the final group to finish.
"I'll take away a lot of positives," said Miller, a two-time state runner-up at Northwestern High School. "I thought I played extremely well. There are always shots you wish you had back or wish you'd done something a little bit differently, but I don't dwell on it.
"To prove that I can play with the pros, I'll take it."
Miller tied for third place with Jake Gerney of Trump National Golf Club and Rich Steinmetz of Spring Ford Country Club.
Bethlehem Golf Club assistant pro Alex Knoll, who won the inaugural Lehigh Valley Open in 2008, struggled on the back nine and finished with a two-day total of 143, tied for 14th place.
Michael Blouse is a freelance writer.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun