MEDINA TWP. — Stephen Gangluff made it interesting and kept it interesting Wednesday at Weymouth Country Club.
Up three shots heading into the final round of the 98th Ohio Open, Gangluff was tied with defending champion Chase Wilson after nine holes. He then built a five-stroke lead over eventual runner-up Nathan Tarter through 13, only to find that margin cut to one after 15.
That’s the way it stayed, however, as Gangluff’s final-round, 1-over-par 73 left him at 13-under 203 for the 54-hole event, good for a one-shot victory over Tarter, who began the day five shots back but closed with a 69. Wilson, who started the day at 11 under, shot 74 to finish third at 9 under.
“I wanted to play better and finish it off without any worries,” said Gangluff, who won $8,000. “Obviously, that didn’t work, but it feels good. I got it done and did what I needed to do.”
Pickerington’s Alex Weiss and Strongsville’s Ben Jones tied for top amateur at 4 under and took home $675 in gift certificates apiece, while the top Medina County finisher was Westfield Center’s Ben Smith, who closed with a 75 to finish at even-par 216. Medina’s Patrick Luth finished at 2 over and Kyle Richardson, also of Medina, was 3 over.
The 42-year-old Gangluff, however, was the story of the day. The Delaware resident bogeyed his first two holes and eventually fell into a tie with Zanesville’s Wilson at the turn, but quickly built his lead back to two following a birdie-bogey scenario on 10.
“I was a little frustrated throughout the day,” Gangluff said, “but that definitely put me moving in the right direction.”
A teaching pro at Tartan Fields Golf Club in Dublin who made the cut at the U.S. Open in 2002 and 2006, Gangluff appeared to be home free until he bogeyed the par-5 14th and Tarter recorded an eagle, which cut a five-shot lead to two.
A Gangluff bogey on 15 cut the deficit to one, and Tarter had a chance to tie on 16, but missed a 5-foot birdie putt. With a couple dozen people watching, Gangluff’s chipped from just off the green to within a foot and tapped in for par, while Tarter two-putted from 40 feet.
“The whole day was like that,” Gangluff said. “I was up three to start, then I was tied, then I was up five, then I was up one. You think you can sit back and relax, but it’s funny how golf can change so quickly.”
Gangluff, who graduated from Marysville High in 1993 and played for three years at Ohio State before turning pro 21 years ago, is no stranger to winning. He earned a handful of victories on the PGA Canada Tour and also had a top-three finish on the Web.com Tour and a top-20 placement on the PGA Tour.
It’s just that, having earned his PGA Tour card in 2002 and again in 2012, it had been awhile since Gangluff had the opportunity to lead wire-to-wire. He shot 8-under 64 in the opening round to take a one-shot lead, then followed with a 66 to go up three.
“I haven’t been in that position for years,” Gangluff said. “You know it’s your tournament to lose, and sometimes you lose your aggressiveness. I didn’t plan on winning by shooting over par today, but I was able to hold it together.”