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Sudden-death playoffs were necessary to crown Brock Godwin the men’s golf champion and for Susan Baker to repeat as the women’s champion in the annual Willow Springs Country Club championships Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 19-20.
The 36-year-old Godwin parred the first hole of a playoff to conquer 44-year-old Chance Cox after each had carded 3-over-par 145 totals for the regulation 36 holes. Godwin fired a 70-75, while Cox rallied Sunday with a 73-72.
Godwin, a Willow Springs member for the second year, seized his first club championship, while Cox was denied his first title.
Earlier, Baker bogeyed the first hole of a playoff to defeat Sue McGuire for the second straight year. Baker carded rounds of 82-87—169, while McGuire posted an 81-88—169. Lynne Cates took third at 88-86—174
Other 2019 champions are Bo Corn in Seniors, Clayton Pridgen in Super Seniors, Tommy Vick in Legends and Henry Futrell in Super Legends. As the first Super Legends (ages 80-up) winner, Futrell was unopposed and, after shooting a 76 Saturday, was excused from playing in the messy weather and conditions Sunday by tournament committee chairman John Wooten.
“It’s the first time I’ve congratulated someone on Friday for winning a tournament that didn’t start until Saturday,” Wooten quipped.
“I’ll take it,” remarked Futrell before heading home.
CORN’S TOTAL LOWEST
Corn turned in the weekend’s lowest 36-hole score of 2-over-par 144 in claiming his second Seniors crown with rounds of 71-73—144. Ricky Vick finished second at 76-71—147. The 71 tied for Sunday’s low round.
Also matching par Sunday was Pridgen, who captured his first club title at 79-71—150. Pridgen, a second-year member, trailed by seven shots entering the final round to defending champion Jerry Barnes, who finished second at 72-80—152.
Vick reigns as the Legends king for the fourth consecutive year after rounds of 72-74—146, which produced a three-shot win. .
LOGJAM AFTER SATURDAY
Godwi entered the final round leading Matt Lemmons by one shot, Troy Haynes by two, and 2018 champ Zim Hagan and Cox by three.
After notching six birdies Saturday, Godwin birdied Nos. 13 and 18 Sunday. Cox birdied Nos. 3 and 12 en route to a 35-37.
With a par on the par-4, No. 17 layout, Cox grabbed a one-shot edge. Although Cox played in the group ahead of him, Godwin knew he needed a birdie at No. 18, a par3, to force a playoff. He drained a putt of some 15 feet.
In the playoff, Godwin outdrove Cox by some 100 yards and, after his approach shot, was left with a 10-foot birdie try. Cox missed the green with his second shot and negotiated a tricky shot over a bunker. Cox missed his par putt and didn’t bother to putt for bogey after Godwin rolled his birdie putt within a couple inches of the cup.
“Tough conditions today — wet, cold and windy,” Godwin noted. “I didn’t have my ‘A’ game but I tried to battle through it. It was just a battle today to win a tourney. I would have liked to have played better, but it’s golf and every day is different. Chance played well and deserved to win. He played the best golf when he had to do it.”
However, Godwin highlighted a summer that has seen him battle to save his vision in one eye.
“This means a lot with everything that has gone on this year,” Godwin assured. “I am very blessed to be able to play golf this well. A lot of people are thinking about (Godwin’s battle) and praying for me.”
Cox did not talk about second thoughts of “what if.”
“I’m just happy to be where I am,” he expressed. “I played better than I thought I would. I didn’t expect to be in a playoff and was excited about it. I made a lot of pars and stayed steady. That helps on a cold, rainy day. It was fun — I love it. Hopefully, I have a few more years to win it.”
Baker and McGuire engaged in a shot-for-shot battle for two days. Baker said she was reminded of 2017, when she lost the championship to McGuire on the first hole of a playoff.
On Sunday, Baker’s situation appeared bleak with a triple bogey at No. 15. However, McGuire hit a shot out-of-bounds on No. 17 and suffered a triple bogey. Both parred No. 18. The cards were totaled and Baker and McGuire discovered they were tied.
“Neither one of us knew how we stood,” Baker explained.
Baker noted the turnout of only three players was “sad,” but noted: “We knew any of us could win. Our games are similar, especially mine and Sue’s. It was a great weekend with great competitors.”
After a round of four birdies Saturday, the 62-year-old Corn came back with birdies on Nos 3 and 14 Sunday. He never relinquished the lead the final round. Corn led Bert Ferrell by four shots and Vick by five entering Sunday’s round.
“I’m tickled to death considering I had played much golf (lingering back problems),” Corn commented. “I played really good yesterday; today was steady.
“To beat this group is pretty amazing. Every group out here has incredible golfers. I played the way I always play — drive it into the fairway and put it on the green. Putting will take care of itself. It’s an honor to get my name up there with the Rick Proctors and everybody in our group.”
MEN’S SUPER SENIORS
The 66-year-old Pridgen admitted he had pretty much relegated himself to the fact he was not going to win out of respect to Barnes.
But Pridgen birdied Nos. 3, 5, 14 and 17 while Barnes, not happy with the conditions, complained: “I played like I’ve never been on a golf course.”
Acknowledged the left-handed Pridgen: “I was fortunate that he didn’t play well. I was just out there playing, but I started feeling a little pressure on the back (nine) when it started getting close. I didn’t know I had won until we finished; I didn’t want to know.”
Pridgen didn’t conceal his excitement.
“I’m tickled to death,” he exclaimed. “I’m kind of in shock. This is my first; I came close at Happy Valley in 2010. I don’t know how long (Barnes) has had that parking space, but he had it a long time.”
The 74-year-old Vick notched his ninth age-group championship — four Legends, three Super Seniors and two Seniors — at Willow Springs. He registered three birdies Saturday and came back with birdies at Nos. 1, 6 and 18 Sunday. He signaled his intent by starting with a birdie the final round and stayed out front. But Page trailed by only one shot after nine holes and stayed close until Vick sank a 15-foot putt for par on No. 15 and Page bogeyed.
“I played fair,” reviewed Vick, who suffered a blood clot in a leg three weeks ago. “I putted really good both days. Putting won it for me.
“I feel honored. With the caliber players we have, it’s still very good to still be able to feel that good.”
Players hailed the tournament, the condition of the par-71 Willow Springs layout and the efforts of the tournament committee headed by Wooten.