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Loar pulls out 1st Nationwide Tour win

Panama City, Panama (Sports Network) - Edward Loar didn't make a ton of shots Sunday. He had three bogeys and a triple-bogey, then watched as his five- stroke lead dwindled to one and, eventually, fell out of first.

But locked in a five-way tie atop of the leaderboard late in the final round of the Panama Claro Championship, he came up with the winning shot.

Loar birdied the 16th hole with a 25-foot putt to break free of the pack, then parred out to secure his first Nationwide Tour victory. Prior to this tournament, he had never been in first after a round on the tour.

"I really haven't played that good out here," said Loar, a PGA Tour rookie, playing the Nationwide Tour this week. "Hopefully this will give me some gratification that I actually belong out here."

Despite carding a four-over 74 on Sunday, Loar finished at four-under 276, one stroke ahead of Cameron Percy (67), Ryan Armour (68), Luke List (68) and Brian Smock (69).

Justin Bolli shot a 71 to finish alone in sixth at minus-one.

Loar began the final round with a four-stroke advantage over Justin Hicks, and initially looked like he would run away with the championship. He fell to minus-seven with a bogey at the third, but got the stroke back with a birdie at four. Hicks stumbled to a double-bogey at the fourth, leaving Loar five clear of the field.

However, Loar bogeyed the sixth and struggled to a triple-bogey at seven, where he hit it into the water. That put Loar at four-under, and in the space of two holes, his comfortable advantage was gone and the leaderboard became crowded. Loar was still at the top, but only barely -- Armour was one stroke back, and six more were two behind.

And then, Armour birdied the 11th and 13th to move to five-under and vault in front of Loar.

"It was the first time in a while that I'd been in the lead, especially on a stage like this. I think anybody that said they weren't (nervous) is crazy," Loar said. "On a course like this anything can happen, as it's shown all week. Unfortunately it came up and bit me a couple of times."

But Loar never lost his chance to win. While he struggled, other players did, too, and nobody could put together the run of birdies and steady golf that was necessary to claim a decisive victory.

Case in point was Armour, who immediately fell out of first with a bogey at 14.

List joined Armour and Loar at minus-four after sinking three birdies in four holes from the 11th. But a double-bogey at 15 damaged his chances.

Soon after, there were five players tied for first at three-under. Loar dropped a shot at 13 and Armour lost another stroke at 18, while List birdied his last and Smock gained a stroke at 17. Percy had already completed his 67 by that point.

After Smock made par at the 18th, only Loar could have prevented the first five-way playoff in Nationwide Tour history. And he managed to do it with the birdie at 16, then two consecutive pars. Loar got up-and-down at the last, making a six-foot par putt to ensure the victory.

NOTES: Loar became the sixth left-handed winner in Nationwide Tour history...He earned $99,000 for the victory...Skip Kendall, who won the season-opening event in Colombia, managed an even-par 70 to finish in a tie for 25th at plus-three...Next week, the Nationwide Tour heads to Santiago for the Chile Classic. The first-year event is the first PGA Tour-sanctioned event in Chile.

03/04 18:54:05 ET