Hadley rallies for Rex Hospital Open win

Chesson Hadley birdied five of his last eight holes on Sunday and rallied to win the Rex Hospital Open by a pair of strokes.

Hadley, a Raleigh native, began the final round five shots off the pace before pulling even with overnight leader Danny Lee courtesy of a birdie at TPC Wakefield Plantation's 16th hole.

Still tied entering No. 18, Hadley dropped his approach within a foot and tapped in for birdie, while Lee, playing two groups behind, bogeyed the last to seal the final result.

Hadley carded a final-round, 7-under 64 and ended 72 holes at 19-under-par 265 for his first career Tour victory.

"Honestly I can't believe I won this," said Hadley. "This is the greatest thing that has happened in my golfing career. It's a dream come true."

Lee, who was seeking his second win on the circuit and first since 2011, shot 71 on Sunday and finished in solo second at 17-under.

Edward Loar (68) took third at 16-under, while Ben Martin (66) and Josh Broadaway (67) tied for fourth at minus-15. Michael Putnam (69) ended in sixth at 14-under, one stroke better than younger brother Andrew Putnam (71) and Len Mattiace (67), who tied for seventh.

Hadley was even for his round through eight holes before thunderstorms halted play for two-plus hours. When the delay ended, the former Georgia Tech All- America promptly drained a 30-footer for eagle at the ninth, kickstarting a furious closing stretch.

"I didn't start well and that delay helped," said Hadley. "I went to the putting green and made a slight change. I narrowed my stance a little bit and when we got back out there I started making some bombs."

After a par at the 10th, Hadley rolled home a 12-footer for birdie at the 11th, saved par from 10 feet at the 12th, and then tallied back-to-back birdies from the 13th to move within two strokes of Lee.

The former U.S. Amateur champion Lee opened his round with six straight pars before the skies opened. After the restart, Lee birdied Nos. 7 and 11, then bogeyed the 12th before recovering with a gain at the 13th.

Still two strokes clear, Lee parred No. 14, but he tripped to a bogey at the 15th as Hadley was wrapping up a birdie at the 16th, resulting in a tie at the top.

At the last, Hadley dropped a wedge from 130 yards within a foot of the cup and tapped in for birdie to take the outright lead.

"Thank God that was a tap-in because I was so nervous," he said. "My knees were shaking so bad. If it was much farther away it sure would have been a lot tougher."

When Lee's chip from behind the 18th green missed, Hadley had his maiden Tour win.

"I played the last 10 holes in 7-under-par after the break," he continued. "This is how you dream it up -- to hit it to within a foot for birdie on the last hole to win in front of a hometown crowd."

NOTES: Hadley became the seventh player to earn his first career win in 2013 ... He became the third rookie to win on the tour this year, joining Patrick Cantlay (Colombia Championship) and Benjamin Alvarado (Chile Classic) ... Hadley has now posted four top-10 finishes in his last five starts ... Lee's runner-up finish was his fourth top-10 of the year in 13 starts.