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PGA Tour
Bettencourt gets 1st PGA Tour win in Reno

Reno, NV (Sports Network) - Matt Bettencourt captured his first PGA Tour win Sunday at the Reno-Tahoe Open, closing with a four-under 68 in the final round to beat Bob Heintz by one shot.

Heintz missed a three-foot birdie putt at the 18th hole with a chance to force a playoff.

A television replay showed Bettencourt barely reacting as he watched Heintz's putt dip into the left side of the cup and spin out, giving him the win and a two-year exemption on the PGA Tour.

"You never pull against anybody out here," said Bettencourt. "My heart goes out to Bob."

Playing in the same group with Heintz, Bettencourt hit two bunkers and took a bogey at 18 -- among the easiest holes one the Montreux course -- to open the door for Heintz.

But just as quickly as it swung open, it slammed shut.

"That was about a three-quarter-inch to a one-inch pull," Heintz said of his missed putt, which was set up by a 108-yard lob wedge into the green. "I wanted it inside the hole. They were being nice on TV saying it was left edge. I wanted it inside the hole and I did start it left edge, and I missed."

Bettencourt finished at 11-under 277, rallying from three shots down for the win. It was the third day out of four that his name was atop the leaderboard. Only a 75 on Saturday kept him from completing a wire-to-wire victory.

The win was worth $540,000, a much smaller amount than usual because the tournament was playing opposite the British Open. Still, it marked a striking reversal of fortune for a player who missed 13 cuts in his previous 21 starts this season while earning just $106,820.

It was Bettencourt's first victory since he captured two titles on the Nationwide Tour in 2008, when a late-season run catapulted him to the top of the money list and earned him a PGA Tour card for the first time.

Now he has fully-exempt status for at least the next 2 1/2 years.

"This win is just incredible for me [and] gives me so many opportunities," said Bettencourt. "I've been struggling all year, but I never lost my ... belief in my ability."

Heintz, who is not a tour member, chipped in three times from off the green Sunday and shot a three-under 69 to take second place alone at 10-under 278. His best-ever finish on the PGA Tour netted him $324,000.

John Merrick and Sweden's Mathias Gronberg both carded 69s to share third place at nine-under 279.

Tournament host and 54-hole leader Scott McCarron had a nine-over 81 and dropped into a tie for 35th place -- 10 shots behind Bettencourt. McCarron's round included a triple-bogey, a double-bogey, five bogeys and just one birdie.

His collapse left the tournament wide-open and several players fought to take control.

Bettencourt shared the lead with John Mallinger at 10-under par when the round took a turn in Bettencourt's favor. Mallinger took two penalty strokes at No. 9 and made a quadruple-bogey that dropped him to six-under.

Ahead at the par-five 11th, Bettencourt knocked his second shot to seven feet and made an eagle to move to 12-under par for a three-shot lead over Heintz and Bill Lunde.

Bettencourt's lead fluctuated between two and three shots after that. It was trimmed to two after he made bogey from a greenside bunker at the 14th. He holed an eight-foot putt to save par at the 16th.

Bettencourt and Heintz traded birdies at the 17th, with Bettencourt escaping a greenside bunker with a crafty shot that landed left of the hole and trickled down to five feet. Heintz made an eight-footer for his birdie.

Nearly blowing his two-shot lead at the 18th, Bettencourt found a fairway bunker off the tee, then shorted his approach into a bunker fronting the green.

He missed an 11-foot putt to close with a bogey, then stood by as Heintz saved him.

"He hit a good putt. It just didn't go in," said Bettencourt, "and fortunately this was my time."

Said Heintz: "It really wasn't a terrible putt. It just wasn't good enough. So I can handle it. I'm a big boy."

NOTES: Like Bettencourt, Heintz is also a two-time Nationwide Tour winner. Both of his victories came in 1999...Lunde tied for 10th and Mallinger shared 21st...Next week is the Canadian Open, where Nathan Green won last year.

07/18 21:00:47 ET

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