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Five years after his last Carolinas PGA major championship win, Oak Island resident Steve Isley won the 45th Pepsi North Carolina Open June 4 at Kilmarlic Golf Club in Powells Point.
Isley, who worked at St. James before becoming PGA director of golf at Masonboro Country Club in Wilmington, shot a 5-under 67 in the final round for a five-stroke victory over Bryan Sullivan and Rick Morton.
Isley finished at 15-under 201 (63-71-67). Thirty-seven competitors made it to the final round in the tourney in Currituck County.
Tied at 10 under at the start of the final round, Isley made three birdies on the front nine to go ahead by two strokes over Sullivan, who started with a double bogey on the first hole. Isley then went bogey, eagle, bogey on the back nine. He birdied two of the last four holes to clinch the victory.
“I sandwiched the eagle with two bogeys, but it worked out,” Isley said. “I had a lot of fun out there today, and it feels good to win again.”
Isley is a graduate of N.C. State University and a former mini-tour player who gave up the dream of playing on the PGA Tour to raise his family. He’s enjoyed some success playing Carolinas PGA events in the past nine years. He won the 2001 N.C. Open and the 2004 Carolinas Open. He has competed as part of numerous Champion Tar Heel cup teams. He’s also made regular appearances at the PGA Professional National Championship in recent years, and that’s where he’ll head once again June 28 to July 1.
“When you win, it makes you a little more sure of your game and the level that you can compete at,” he said. “My wife, Tonya, caddies for me in the PNCs, and my goal is to finish in the top 20 with her out there with me.”
A top-20 finish will get him to his first PGA Championship berth.
Isley takes home a first-place check of $4,000 and a trophy. As for his preparation between now and then for the PGA Professional National Championship, Isley says it will consist of a few nine-hole rounds with his 6-year-old son, Walker, who soon will be the proud new owner of a Jet Ski watercraft.
“He kept asking me when I was going to win,” Isley said, “and I told him that as soon as I did, I’d get him a jet-ski. I don’t know if I actually intended for that particular outcome, but I’m proud of the win.”