Bateman wins PGA's Buick Open

GRAND BLANC, Mich. – Former LSU All-America golfer Brian Bateman made a 12-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole Sunday to earn his first career PGA Tour victory at the 2007 Buick Open at Warwick Hills.

Bateman, who turned professional in 1996, shot a final-round 3-under par 69 to finish at 15-under (65-70-69-69 – 273) – one shot clear of three players already in the clubhouse hoping for a playoff.

Ranked 205th in the Tour's FedEx playoff format standings entering the week, Bateman vaulted to No. 44 while also earning an exemption into the 2008 Masters Tournament.

Though he had once won on the Nationwide Tour – golf's "minor league" – in 1998, his previous best PGA Tour finish was third, which he has accomplished twice.

The Monroe, La., native just missed earning exempt status for the 2007 season as he finished 128th on the official 2006 PGA Tour Money List by earning a total of $645,153 while making 10 cuts in 26 events. The top 125 money leaders each year qualify for automatic entry onto the PGA Tour the following season.

Bateman won't have to worry about that in 2008.

After earning his card through "Q-School" five of the past six years, his win at the Buick Open and its $882,000 top prize will equal exempt status.

In eight events this season, Bateman had made only four cuts and $56,708 in official earnings.

Bateman earned four varsity letters for LSU from 1993-96 and was named a Third-Team All-American as a senior in 1996. He was also a three-time All-SEC performer from 1994-96.

Buick Open defending champion Tiger Woods did not play in this season's event the week after the birth of his first child.

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