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Fayetteville golfer Billy West estimates he’s competed in Wilson Country Club’s annual Two-Man Invitational some 25 years with various partners without claiming the championship.
But despite sterling, “overtime” opposition from the Wilson twosome of Brock Godwin-Joey Lamm on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon, West teaming with Chris Holland emerged a championship pairing for the Fayetteville duo.
The 50-year-old Holland, an optometrist, drained a 12-foot birdie putt on the third hole of a playoff to seal the top finish for West, the Cumberland County district attorney, and himself against Godwin-Lamm after both teams, paired in the next-to-last group, fired rounds of 63 and 66 for 15-under-par 129 totals for the 36 holes of regulation.
“Very satisfying,” the 43-year-old West expressed. “It’s an honor to win it. This is a big tournament for the community. It’s a great tournament on a great golf course, fine people and a friendly staff that does a great job.”
Added Holland: “We would not have come all the way here if it wasn’t an awesome tournament.”
West-Holland joined the 35-year-old Godwin and Lamm (36) in an awesome final-round shootout. Godwin-Lamm thrice erased deficits before Lamm’s birdie on the par-4, No. 16 layout left the teams deadlocked and eventually forced the sudden-death playoff.
“Any time you lose, it’s a disappointment,” Godwin declared. “But those guys deserved it. They played solid golf, but Joey and I fought them.”
Raleigh’s Kevin Atamian-Simon Boetler, who carried a one-shot lead into the final round, finished third at 62-62—134, while deadlocked for fourth were Kyle Norville of Wilson-Matthew Berry of Rocky Mount at 63-74—137 and Wilson’s Lee Fulcher-Steve Merkel at 65-72—137.
Wilson’s David Lee-Greenville’s Vince Nelson, the 2017 champion, claimed the Championship B Flight at 68-65—133, edging WCC’s Clint O’Hara-Stephen Harrison (69-65—134).
Ryan Yarbrough and Zach Gliarmis, star performers for Fike High’s 2008 North Carolina High School Athletic Association 3-A championship team, ruled the First Flight at 70-64--134.
Atamian-Boetler shook off a bogey at No. 6 in the rainy opening round to fire 10-under and seized the lead in the capacity 72-team field with an eagle on the par-5, No. 14 layout and five birdies from Atamian and four birdies from Boetler.
But of Sunday’s round, Boetler complained: “I couldn’t get off the tee” and Atamian noted: “We had only two birdies.”
On Saturday, Norville eagled the par-5 Nos. 2 and 7 layouts and teamed with Berry for birdie barrage after bogeying No. 1.
“We just didn’t play well at all (Sunday),” Berry said of the 2-over round.
West-Holland opened 9-under behind six birdies from West and three from Holland. Godwin-Lamm shook off a bogey at No. 1 to unleash 10 birdies, including Lamm’s birdie at No. 7 — where Godwin ran into a triple bogey. In the two rounds, Godwin assaulted the WCC layout with 14 birdies and an eagle.
From the outset Sunday, only West-Holland and Godwin-Lamm avoided struggling starts. The tandems were deadlocked until West-Holland birdied and Godwin and Lamm each three-putted for bogey on No. 9.
“We make par there and we don’t go to a playoff,” Lamm contended.
Reasoned Godwin: “With hindsight being 20-20, we par No. 9 and we win it in regulation.”
Godwin-Lamm got a shot back with a birdie at No. 10 and drew even on the par-5, No. 12 layout — where the long-hitting Godwin belted a driver, then drilled a pitching wedge some 170 yards onto the green and connected on his eagle putt. West-Holland birdied.
But a birdie at No. 14 vaulted West-Holland back out front. Godwin-Lamm countered with Lamm’s birdie at No. 16. West-Holland stayed even by scrambling for matching pars on Nos. 17 and 18.
Lamm struggled off the tee in the playoff, but Godwin matched pars by West and Holland on Nos. 1 and 2.
Problems off the tee for both teams left West-Holland with the definite advantage on the par-5, No. 2 layout. However, Holland, hitting a driver for his second shot, slid the ball into the right hazard.
“That was frustrating,” West admitted.
“I didn’t know Billy was in trouble (after his second shot),” Holland explained. “I hit driver there every day. I hit it on the front of the green and it’s over. But stupid me ... I could have hit a 6-iron, hit a shot in there and make birdie.”
With West left with a testy four-foot putt for par, Holland recovered to drain a lengthy par putt to continue the playoff. Godwin salvaged par after being forced to chip his second shot back into play.
“I just wanted to try to make them earn (the championship),” Godwin said. “I just wanted to hit the ball on the green close enough to have a chance for a birdie — and force them to make birdie to win it. I didn’t want us to lose to par — especially in sudden death.”
On the par-3, No. 3, Holland laced his tee shot some 10 feet from the flag. Lamm was 17 feet away.
Lamm firmed his putt some three feet past the cup. From the “side door,” Holland dropped his putt.
“We didn’t read enough break on that putt,” Lamm lamented.
Holland admitted: “I was upset (about No. 2); it was a bit of redemption.”
“It was a lot of fun watching Brock,” Lamm reviewed his second tourney appearance. “It was a great show. I helped him on five holes. We lost to two great guys.”
Commented Godwin: “We were both playing well and reading putts well. We had good teamwork.”
West-Holland prevailed after a runner-up 2017 showing. Holland pointed out each team was pulling for the other.
“Billy played excellent,” Holland said of his partner.
West countered: “Chris played really good down the stretch. We brother-in-lawed well. Only three times all weekend was one of us out of the hole. We played those three holes 2-under. That’s critical.”