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D.J. Trahan smiles after winning the Southern Farm Bureau Classic

MADISON, Miss. -- He arrived deep in the heart of Mississippi, doing what a lot PGA TOUR players do late in what they consider an unsatisfactory season.
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D.J. Trahan was behind the financial eight ball, chasing money and hoping to secure a job on the game’s biggest stage in 2007 without having to hassle with enrollment in Qualifying School, professional golf’s version of a trip to the dentist’s office.

Darn if Trahan, a TOUR sophomore who entered this week 142nd of the all-important money list, didn’t get a lot more than he bargained for in the Southern Farm Bureau Classic at Annandale Golf Club. He officially put Q-School in his rearview mirror this season and next season as well in a manner he’ll always remember.

That’s the beauty of bagging your first PGA TOUR victory. That’s what Trahan, 25, did Sunday. But it certainly did not come easy for a guy who felt the pressure of leading wire-to-wire. It took overtime to end a taut struggle with Joe Durant, with Trahan making birdie on each of the three playoff holes to enter the winner’s circle. His winner came from five feet, while Durant missed from a fraction inside that. Talk about your Southern comfort.

“Three in a row, pretty sweet,” he said of his playoff performance. “This is fantastic. To win sleeping on the lead every night, with all the pressure that is involved makes it even sweeter.’’

Consequently, Trahan never will forget these four fateful days spent here, just north of Jackson, Mississippi’s capitol city. He pulled in as a 2006 also-ran and flew out clutching the tournament hardware.

“I certainly was hoping for some good things to happen in the last four weeks,” Trahan said. “It has been such a frustrating year because I didn’t feel like I was playing as poorly as the results showed. “

That’s all in the past tense now. Trahan pocketed a winner’s check for $540,000 to push his earnings to $1,014,242 going over the million dollar mark for the first, but likely not the last time. He also gained entry into the season opening Mercedes Championship with its elite field of 2006 tournament winners.

In the end, Trahan trusted himself and trusted his swing when the final-round heat rolled past the boiling point. And he drew the praise of the man he narrowly defeated as well two-time U.S. Open champion Lee Janzen, who finished third while playing in the final threesome with Trahan.

“D.J. hung in there tough,” said Durant, whose six-under-par 66 matched the day’s second-best round. “He really handled himself well. It would have been easy for him to lose his patience with the course playing as firm and as fast as it did. But he didn’t. He won in style.”

Said Janzen: “I thought he held up pretty well at some key points in the round when he easily could have cracked. The mistakes he made weren’t shots where you thought, Oh, the pressure got him. I was very impressed with his demeanor out there.”

There were lots of key moments in the champion’s 71. He made a 50-footer for an eagle on the par-5 fifth, but followed with a bogey on the sixth. Then after leaving his second shot in the sand on the par-3 eighth, he holed the next one for par.

“Ridiculous,” he said. “I was getting frustrated because I was hitting good putts but I didn’t see a lot fall. Then I make it from the bunker after chunking one.”

Trahan wasn’t finished. A 14-foot birdie putt on the long par 4 14th was huge as was a par saver on the par-3 15th. But the real pivotal moment came when Trahan got it up-and-in from 120 yards for a par four on the 17th, a hole that had a Trahan bogey written all over it.

“I had already chalked a five on the card”’ said Trahan, who drove it into an impossible spot in the ball-swallowing Bermuda rough. “I just ripped a sand wedge and made a tricky five footer. That was all-world. I got lucky to walk off that green with a four.”

Call it destiny, just like Trahan’s move into the winner’s circle. It was bound to happen for the lanky, 6-foot-3 South Carolina native who was everybody’s All-American as Clemson became the first collegiate team in history to win its conference title, a regional crown and the NCAA championship in 2003.

Trahan admitted to becoming impatient by his failure to get into contention more often.

“I honestly felt like I was behind schedule,” he said. “I wasn’t doing nearly as well out here as I expected.”

Again that all is in the past tense now as is the bitter disappointment Trahan felt in 2005 at the Chrysler Classic of Greensboro, when he entered the final round tied for the lead with eventual champion K.J. Choi. Trahan had “a horrific” day on the greens and shot 75 to fall into a tie for 13th.

“I was down on myself for a good while,” he said.

Thursday he can hold his head high when he is introduced as a PGA TOUR tournament champion on the first tee in Greensboro. The only thing he’ll be chasing next week is another title.


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I know this tournament was pretty weak compared to the WGC-AmEx Championship, but I wish it would have been on TV somewhere. I have been a fan of Lee Janzen for a long time, and it was really good to see him in contention. It would have been nice to see him pull out the win and get back inside the top-125 on the money list to secure his card for next season. Maybe he can carry the momentum through this last month.

Congrats to DJ Trahan on the win, however. Trahan is still very young and could make some waves on the PGA Tour if his confidence stays high. I'd like to see him do well because we need all the young Americans to step up in a big way.
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