David Bolen walked off the the 6th green two shots behind Hudson Carper in the final round of the Championship Flight of the Club Championship.
“I was not very optimistic,” he said.
Three holes later, Bolen was in position to win when Carper – heading into his junior year at Cooper High School – drained a long downhill putt to force a playoff.
Bolen went on to win his first Club Championship – but the roller coaster ride over those last three holes provided a lot of drama for a growing gallery following the final group in a serpentine line of carts.
See Facebook gallery of Bolen-Carper action over the final seven holes.
Photo at left: Carper and Bolen congratulate each other after playoff hole.
Bolen and Carper played with Tyler Chadwick and Erick Willcoxon, who tied for the fourth – nine shots behind the pair who went to the playoff.
David Alderson finished two strokes ahead of Chadwick and Willcoxon for third.
Steve Locke won the Senior Championship Flight for the second year in a row with a one-stroke win over Everett Seymore he sealed with a 7-foot par putt on the final hole.
Two years ago he lost in a playoff, so it’s been quite a three-year run for Locke.
“It was fun to make one under pressure. I had not putted good all day and had it make it on the 9th hole when it counted,” he said of the left-to-right breaker below the hole.
“It was fun. I was happy to win. I hit it well for three days, but didn’t putt well,” he added.
Patrick Pritchett finished third, three strokes behind the winner and John Cook was fourth.
In the Championship Flight, Carper had a one-shot lead over Bolen heading into Sunday’s round, but they were even heading into the back nine (played on the front nine because of the 18th-hole project).
Bolen was two shots ahead after the par-5 first hole, but they were tied after No. 2 before Carper took a one-stroke lead when Bolen bogeyed the 3rd hole.
Carper held that lead to the par-5 6th hole.
Both were in the bunker in front of the green and had birdie putts.
Carper made, Bolen missed and Carper’s lead was two.
“I was not very optimistic,” said Bolen.
Photo at left: Hudson Carper drops putt at 6th hole for two-shot lead.
Both were short of the green on the 7th hole when Carper hit a short shot over the green.
Carper said he’d been working on a flip wedge shot with his coach, but didn’t take into consideration this shot was downhill and downwind.
“I hit it too good,” he said, hoping to hit it into a bank and let it skip back.
Bolen hit just past the hole and made a two-putt par.
Carper chipped up, but missed his par putt.
The lead was one.
On No. 8, Carper tried to hit a low driver out of the wind.
“But it hit a tree and knocked it straight down,” he said. “I tried to lay up on the second shot and pulled that one too.”
He still had a chance for par with a 10-12 footer above the hole after his third shot.
Meanwhile, Bolen had his challenges on the other side of the fairway.
His approach shot was blocked by trees, so he hit a cut shot toward the left side of the green.
Bolen hoped to get it on the green or close off the left side.
The ball ended up just left of the green.
His chip came out hot and went past the hole.
“I was a little excited,” he said.
Photos at left: David Bolen lofts ball toward flag on 8th green, then sends his par putt toward the hole, which dropped.
Bolen made par and Carper missed.
“I finally made a putt, the only putt all day,” said the champion.
“I felt like all week I gave myself plenty of looks and nothing went in. I got away with winning because I hit the ball OK,” said Bolen, whose par on No. 8 was the only time he parred the hole over the three-day tournament.
They headed to the 9th tee tied.
Bolen’s tee shot was in the fairway, but Carper’s went right, ending on the right side of the water, close to the footbridge.
Both agreed Carper should get relief, but wanted to double check with Pro Mark, who came out and walked Carper through the process.
Carper dropped after getting relief, but the ball settled deep into the thick grass.
He opened up an 8 iron and got the ball back in the fairway. His next shot ended up above the hole.
Meanwhile, Bolen was on in regulation.
A birdie would win the title, but he two-putted.
That gave Carper a chance. He dropped the clutch putt and the crowd erupted.
“I’ve had the putt plenty of times and knew it was on a good line,” he said later, while people came by to congratulate the high school junior on his performance against one of the best golfers in West Texas.
Bolen later said: “That was a gutsy, gutsy putt.”
Both golfers hit the fairway on the first playoff hole on No. 9, but Carper had problems with his second shot and made a bogey.
Bolen parred for the win.
“I’ve played competitive golf for 28 years and been in many playoffs. I never count a win until the last putt is in,” said Bolen.
He said he didn’t get too high or too low during the last few holes – especially when Carper made his playoff-forcing butt.
“It’s happened before and it’ll happen again,” said Bolen, who was joined in his cart by his son Brooks for the final holes.
Did Brooks offer any encouragement?
“He said, ‘you’re one behind, you need to make birdie here,’” said his dad.
Photo at left: Pro Mark with Club Championship winner David Bolen.
It was only Bolen’s second time to play in the Club Championship.
“The tournament always coincides with another tournament and I wanted to play an individual event before going to Amarillo to defend the West Texas Amateur,” he said of the tournament he won at LCC last year by nine strokes.
It was the second year in a row Carper finished second.
“It was a great learning experience,” he said, offering praise for Bolen.
“I learned a lot playing with him – about handling myself on and off the course. He’s the real deal,” said Carper.
Club Championship Match Play results
See Facebook gallery of the winners
David Rogers Sr. defeated David Canale
Consolation: Ray Salsky/Mark Decker Tie
Jim McCutchin defeated Tracy Wallace
Consolation: John Simpson
Zach McCutchin defeated Vincent D’Alise
Consolation: Glen Robertson
Ellwood Keeney defeated Jeff Bartholomew
Consolation: Ed Stephens
Stan Kirby defeated Harold Stuart
Consolation: Glen Reinart
Marshall Watson defeated Tony Crumpton
Consolation: Scott George