AUBURNDALE — After the bombings at the Boston Marathon in April, Evan Harmeling knew that he wanted to do something to help the victims of the tragic event.
He had heard about PGA golfer and Brookline native James Driscoll’s Birdies for Boston campaign — which raised $1,000 for each of Driscoll’s birdies at the RBC Heritage and Zurich Classic tournaments — and liked the idea of doing something golf-related.
Finally, as the Andover resident lay in bed on Wednesday night with a share of the lead entering the final round of the 104th Massachusetts Open — the answer came to him.
Harmeling arrived at Woodland Golf Club on Thursday knowing that whatever prize money he earned would go to One Fund Boston, a charity to assist the victims and families affected by the tragedy.
As his 8-foot birdie putt found the center of the cup on the 18th hole, the last of a three-hole playoff between the 24-year-old and Dedham’s Chris Fitzpatrick, One Fund Boston picked up $15,000 — the winner’s purse for the Open.
“It kind of just dawned on me,” said Harmeling, who finished the three-day tournament with a 5-under-par total of 211. “I decided last night that I was going to give [the prize money] to the One Fund.
“It gave me a little peace of mind. I mean, I was still nervous out there, but knowing I was playing to give more money to them, it definitely made me feel more comfortable.”
Harmeling, who attended Phillips Academy and later graduated from Princeton University, went par-birdie-birdie on the three playoff holes to secure the win over his close friend Fitzpatrick.
Fitzpatrick, who shot a 3-under 69 to force the playoff, had spent the morning joking with Harmeling — who stayed at his house in Wellesley during the Open — about the possibility of the two going head-to-head in a playoff for the title.
“I woke up this morning and said ‘good luck, play well, and I’ll see you in a playoff,’ ” Fitzpatrick said. “It’s funny that it actually occurred like that. If anybody’s going to beat me, I’m happy it was him.”
Harmeling began Thursday’s round with birdies on the third and fifth holes, before a drive out of bounds led to a double bogey on the sixth.
After dropping another shot on the par-4 seventh, Harmeling made a 16-foot par-saving putt on the eighth hole and carried that momentum to a birdie on the ninth to get back to even on the day.
“On eight, that was probably the biggest point in my round today,” Harmeling said. “I made a par save, which was huge, and then I birdied nine to right the ship a little bit.”
Harmeling reached the 18th hole at 6 under, well aware that Fitzpatrick was already in the clubhouse at 5 under. However, Harmeling’s indecision on which club to hit off the tee on the 377-yard 18th left him with a pine tree between his ball and the green.
His low, 7-iron approach shot caught the front bunker, leading to a bogey and the fruition of his temporary landlord’s morning prediction.
Harmeling and Fitzpatrick replayed holes 16-18 in the playoff, and when Harmeling faced a similar putt on the 18th to the one he missed in regulation, he knocked it down.
“I was standing over the putt, going, ‘Well, here we go again, here’s another putt to win,’ ” he said. “I definitely took a little bit of a tentative stroke in regulation. So I just committed to my line and gave it a good run. It didn’t pop off the back of the cup, but I hit it pretty firm in there.”
Jason Caron of Stamford, Conn., was third, a stroke behind Harmeling and Fitzpatrick. Benjamin Spitz of George Wright Golf Course led a group at 3-under 213 and captured the Commonwealth Cup as the low amateur.
The $15,000 prize was the largest of Harmeling’s career and his first MGA win.