MANCHESTER — Jason Millard led the Charlie’s Maine Open at the turn, but by the end of the 18 holes, everything had changed.

The Tennesseean was headed for a four-way playoff, and all he had to deal with were the defending tournament champion, the summer’s New England champion, and the day’s hottest player.

The jitters were there. Until he got to the first tee.

“For some reason, I wasn’t nervous in the playoff at all,” he said. “I was nervous during the round, but (when) I got to the playoff, I was not nervous at all.”

It showed. Millard birdied the first hole twice in the playoff, outlasting Shawn Warren, Jason Thresher and finally Matt Campbell to win the Maine Open in the rain on the fourth hole of the sudden death.

“I was very fortunate to come out on top,” said Millard, who shot a final-round 67 and finished at 8 under par. “It’s a long way to come for one tournament, but I just wanted to play in something.”

Campbell, a two-time Maine Open champion who was trying to win in a playoff for the second straight year, shot 67 for his share of second place at 8 under. Warren, who began the day tied for 21st, shot an 8-under 62 and Thresher, who won the New England Open in June, shook off a sluggish start to card a 68 to also tie for the second spot.

“The weather started to get pretty lousy … and with that going on, I was kind of thinking to myself that guys ahead of me might not go as low as in the previous day,” said Falmouth Country Club’s Warren, who birdied eight holes and bogeyed none. “When I was able to get it to 6 under through 11 holes, that’s when I started to think that, if I were able to get three or four more coming in, I should have a chance to win.”

On the first hole for the playoff, Warren drove left into trees and Thresher lipped out a putt from 7 feet away on their way to bogey and par, respectively. Millard, meanwhile, stuck his approach shot just inches from the hole, and Campbell knocked his within a couple of feet, allowing both to record life-extending birdies.

Both players parred the par-3 second and then did the same on the par-4 third, with Campbell’s potential winning putt from 20 feet hitting the flagstick and staying out.

“I don’t know how it didn’t go in,” Campbell said. “I figured 10 out of 10 times that was in, with the pace it was going.”

The players returned to the first hole, where once again Millard had the solution, finding the middle of the fairway with a 4-iron and then putting his approach a little under 10 feet from the pin.

“I took a little bit of a different approach than the other guys, they were hitting it further down,” Millard said. “I was maybe trying to put some pressure on them. … I always heard you want to hit it first on the green in a playoff to apply the pressure.”

Campbell, meanwhile, pulled his tee shot left into the same trees Warren found, and didn’t have a clear angle to the green. His third shot, a lofted chip from the bottom of the hill, settled inches from the cup to put the pressure back on Millard, but he rolled in his tricky putt for the clinching birdie.

“It’s a great feeling, a sigh of relief,” said Millard, who put himself into the playoff with a clutch birdie on the par-5 18th. “I told myself I wouldn’t look at a leaderboard all day. Just play (my) game.”

That paid off early as Millard birdied three of the first six holes to take sole possession of the lead, but he birdied none of the next 11 while also bogeying the 12th.

“I was kind of leaking oil,” he said.

Meanwhile, the competition around him stiffened. After going 1-over on the front, Thresher surged back to life when he birdied 13, 14 and 16 to claim a share of the lead.

“For a few holes there I was in the zone. The last six holes I thought every putt was going to go in,” Thresher said. “I hit a lot of solid shots too the last six holes, and it felt great to do that under pressure.”

Campbell put on his own charge, birdieing the 14th, 17th and 18th holes, with the birdie on the 18th coming after a drive into the trees on the right. Campbell had little room to swing but nonetheless scorched a 3-wood that started low and left, sliced drastically and came to rest pin high nearly 230 yards away.

“I figured I needed an eagle. I had nothing, I was in jail,” Campbell said. “I had to keep it low and slice it. If I hit it straight, I’m out of bounds. … I pulled it off, it was one of the greatest shots I’ve ever hit in competition.”

With his playing partners gathering momentum and Warren on his run, Millard could feel the heat.

“It was definitely slipping away from me,” he said.

He made tricky par putts on the 14th and 15th holes, however, and then on 18, made his first birdie on the back when he needed it most.

There were more to come.

“I told myself, ‘Keep playing, keep plugging along,’ ” Millard said. “And the playoff went my way.”


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