GRASONVILLE -- The 71st Maryland Open championship was not as close as the final scores would indicate, but don't tell that to Jon Stanley or Dennis Winters.
Second-round leader Stanley started birdie-birdie to build a four-stroke lead on the field, then stumbled home with a one-stroke victory after Winters, playing one group ahead, finished birdie-birdie to make it that close.
Stanley, 33, a third-year Burning Tree Club assistant professional, lost three shots to par in the last four holes at Prospect Bay Country Club and wound up with par-71 and a 54-hole total of 210. Winters, 31, a former Prospect Bay assistant now at Eisenhower Golf Course, closed with a 70 for 211.
Jack Skilling of Columbia CC was the only other challenger, drawing within two strokes of playing companion Stanley midway of the back nine before slipping to 73-214.
The triumph was worth $2,500 from the $15,000 purse, and earned the winner an exemption to next year's Kemper Open.
Stanley, with his wife, Debbie, an assistant professional at Bethesda CC, caddying for him, appeared to be home free when he padded a two-shot lead by dipping 3-under on the front nine to get to 8-under for the tournament. He saw the first-hole birdie as a good omen after bogeying the hole the first two rounds.
"I was in great shape, and then the floor fell out," he said of his back-nine experiences.
The 10th hole, a narrow tree-lined 416-yard test with out of bounds, showed the worst and best of Stanley this overcast day on the Eastern Shore. He hooked a 3-wood tee shot into the left trees, had an opening to the green and hit a shot to the front fringe, from where he chipped to 2 feet and made the par putt.
While the tee shot showed a possible cracking, the recovery prompted Stanley to say later, "I never thought about winning until I made par out of the woods at 10."
With the title in his grasp after a birdie at the 14th, Stanley saw what he called "a good 7-iron shot," hit the far bank of a hazard and roll back into the water on the par-3 15th. He had to drop at the nearby 16th tee, struck a marvelous wedge shot to 4 feet, then missed the putt for a double bogey.
He bounced back with a par at the 16th, then pushed a tee shot into the right woods at No. 17, from where he came out short of the green, pitched 10 feet below the hole and missed that putt.
"It was a matter of getting it to the clubhouse," he said, "and after that bogey, I said, 'The heck with it -- just go play 18.' I never knew what anybody else was doing. I just figured if somebody beats me, they beat me."
Stanley put a 3-wood tee shot in the fairway of the 608-yard hole, laid up short of a big pond that is in front of and beside the green and then witnessed Winters' birdie.
"I thought I had hit it in the hole," Stanley said of his wedge shot to the green, but the ball came up 20 feet short. Two putts for a win, and moments later the job was completed.
Winters, who had tied for third among the pros last year, said he turned his head a couple of times on the front nine "because the spectators were clapping like crazy." He was even for the day and 3-under for the tournament after 52 holes, when learning of Stanley's double bogey.
"I knew I needed to birdie the last two holes to have any chance," Winters said. He hit a 5-iron shot to 5 feet and made it at the 17th. He made a 20-foot putt at the 18th green.
The winner hit 14 greens and used 33 putts in shooting an opening 73, then had respective figures of 15 and 27 in shooting a competitive-course-record 66, and marks of 15 greens and 32 putts for his final round.
Buddy Peoples of Crofton CC, motivated to be low amateur by the closeness in the standings of the seven survivors, won the honor and the accompanying Harry Pitt Memorial Trophy with the day's best round, a 68, a tour that included seven birdies and bogeys at three of the four par-3s. It marked the first time Peoples, a one-time Maryland State Amateur champion, had earned the title in at least a half-dozen Open starts.
Jon Stanley..... ..... 73-66-71-210 Dennis Winters........ 71-70-70-211
Jack Skilling......... 72-69-73-214
John McNaney..... .... 75-69-71-215
Bob Boyd..... ..... .. 71-71-73-215
Glen Barrett... ... .. 72-74-70-216 Butch Butler... ... .. 71-74-71-216
a-Buddy Peoples.... .. 73-76-68-217
Brian Lehnhard..... .. 72-74-71-217
Eric Lawhon... ... ... 71-73-73-217
Phil Henry.... ... ... 75-74-69-218
Buddy Sass.... ... ... 76-71-71-218
Don Slebodnik..... ... 72-77-70-219
Mark Cherwien..... ... 72-76-71-219
Chris Peddicord... ... 72-75-72-219
Larry Ringer... .. ... 73-77-70-220
Mark Guttenberg... ... 74-76-70-220
Fran Rhoads... ... ... 72-74-74-220
Gray Hamilton..... ... 71-74-75-220
Dave Quelland..... ... 73-73-75-221
a-Marty West III...... 73-76-73-222
Jim Fitzgerald.... ... 76-75-72-223
Jimmy Nees... .... ... 74-75-74-223
Jim Estes.... .... ... 71-77-75-223
David Newsom...... ... 70-76-77-223
Bill Molloy... ... ... 76-74-74-224
a-Bob Stark... ... ... 76-74-74-224
Art Scott..... ... ... 73-77-75-225
Bud Lintelman..... ... 73-74-78-225
Jeff Dayton... ... ... 74-76-75-225
John Haines... ... ... 74-77-75-226
a-Joe Franz... ... ... 75-73-78-226
Tom Gross..... ... ... 71-70-85-226
Eric Egloff... ... ... 74-77-76-227
Martin Johnson.... ... 71-79-77-227
a-Britt Sloan..... ... 73-78-77-228
William Falls..... ... 75-76-77-228
Mark Garner... ... ... 75-73-80-228
a-Olive Coune..... ... 72-79-80-231
a-Greg Henry... .. ... 72-77-86-235 a-denotes amateur