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Ashley Lowery, Deseret News
Tom Costello celebrates at the 18th hole during the Provo Open after capturing the tournament victory.

PROVO — When Tom Costello and Kim Thompson came to the final hole in the final round of the Provo Open golf tournament Saturday at The Reserve at East Bay Golf Course, the tournament was still up for grabs, even if Costello didn't realize it.

The head pro at Jeremy Country Club had a two-stroke lead over his good friend and was 35 feet away from the hole, while Thompson was about half as far away. If Thompson could make his putt and Costello three-putted, it would mean a tie and a playoff.

It looked possible for a couple of seconds when Costello sent his putt screaming across the green — as he said later, he hit his putt "like a 45-footer."

However, instead of ending up 10 feet past the hole, the ball hit the center of the cup, popped up in the air and dropped back down into the cup for an unlikely birdie. That made Thompson's birdie try meaningless, and the 51-year-old Costello walked off with a three-stroke victory and the $2,200 first prize.

But get this — Costello thought he had a three-stroke lead going into the final hole. If he had known the margin was just two, he would have played a little differently on No. 18.

"I thought I had a three-shot lead going into the final hole," he said afterward. "I only had two?

Holy heck, I would have been choking."

As for his final putt, he said, "I'd been short all day so I said, 'just hit it' and I slam-dunked it. I would have been lagging, but I thought I had a three-shot lead."

Costello had shot a 64 in Saturday's first round for a three-shot lead over three golfers, including Thompson and Costello's old roommate at BYU, Dave DeSantis. Costello's final-round 67 gave him a 131 total, three ahead of Thompson, who also shot 67.

Another stroke back at 135 were amateurs Nathan Page and Nick Killpack. Page, who shot 64 Saturday, won a two-hole playoff to claim low amateur honors. Scott Miller, the former BYU golfer who has been a pro and is in the process of getting his amateur status back, shot 136.

Costello won the Provo Open twice before, in 1984 and 1985, and lost in a playoff in 1992. But he was thrilled to come back and win it at the age of 51. It's always been a tournament dear to his heart since he has played so much at East Bay as well as the old Timpanogos course and still has so many friends from his days at BYU.

"It means a lot to win here in front of coach (Karl) Tucker and so many friends," he said. "If I win a tournament, this is the one I want to win."

The 54-year-old Thompson, who works as a teaching pro at Willow Creek CC, started off hot with birdies on four of the first six holes to pull into a tie with Costello, who will be his partner at an upcoming best ball tournament in Wendover. But he could never get over the hump and take the lead.

The two were tied going into the par-5 No. 13 hole at 10-under for the tournament when Thompson hit his drive left, nearly in a lake. He had to punch out and could only manage a par, while Costello birdied.

Then at the par-5 16th, Costello picked up another birdie when he chipped within four feet and Thompson chipped within 12 feet from almost the same spot. Costello made his putt, and Thompson missed.

"He played well and kept it together," said Thompson. "He made a lot of four and five-footers, and that's what you've got to do to win."


E-mail: sor@desnews.com