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Demon Deacons Repeat as Hootie at Bulls Bay Champions
Editor's Note: Associate editor Jay Flemma recently completed his stint at Bulls Bay Golf Club in Awendaw, S.C., host site of the Hootie at Bulls Bay invitational college tournament. Here's the final of Jay's daily reports as he covers what ultimately became a repeat performance by the Wake Forest Demon Deacons.
Always answer the wake up call, because it might not ring again. That's the lesson Wake Forest avoided learning the hard way at the Hootie at Bulls Bay Collegiate Invitational. The Demon Deacons' golf team squandered a gargantuan lead late before rallying in a nail-biting sudden-death playoff that lasted three extra holes to repeat as tournament champion.
The Deacons had a six-shot lead with four to play, then frittered away the whole margin, playing the final four holes as a team at 8-over. "One minute we were looking pretty good, then we we're in a playoff," said Sean Moore. "It shows you hard the finish is here and how this course turns into a completely different golf course when the wind blows." After limping home with a double-bogey, bogey finish, Moore was won of three Wake players to birdie the 18th hole the third time around. Chris McCartin and Brendan Gielow also birdied.
"It just goes to show, it's never over till it's over, but we hung tough despite a bad scare," said McCartin, a sociology major from Arlington, Va. "I didn't look at a leaderboard all day. The only updates I got were from Coach (Jerry) Haas. He kept saying people were playing all right, but then walking up 18, one fan said that we were 18-under and that we had a good size lead. I knew Baylor was playing well, but it seemed like we had some cushion. I had a seven-footer to go 19-under, but missed it."
Indeed, things looked good as Wake Forest was six shots up on the Baylor Bears, who finished regulation play at 12-under. But in a frantic 15-minute span, after McCartin stumbled at the finish, Dustin Groves three-putted the par-3 17th from eight feet and Gielow splashed his tee shot on the par-4 16th, making double. Gielow also bogeyed 17.
"They updated the leaderboard every two or three holes. One minute the leaderboard said that Wake was minus-18 and Baylor minus-12, and then when it changed next it read Wake minus-12, Baylor minus-12. I thought it was a mistake," said Alex Ross, a fan from Columbia, SC. "Everyone looked around stunned . . . everyone except the Baylor guys."
Both teams finished regulation play at 12-under. The Demon Deacons rattled in three birdies to seal the victory. Webb Simpson led Wake Forest with a 66. The plucky Baylor squad was led by Wes Williams' 66. Florida State (7-under) edged out the Golden Knights of Central Florida by one shot to claim third place. Baylor's surge was powered by Williams' hole-in-one on Bulls Bay's 154-yard par-3 7th hole. He used an 8-iron to record the second ace of his career.
Medalist honors went to Augusta State's Wallace Booth, who fired a 6-under final-round 65, finishing the three-day tournament at 8-under. Simpson finished a shot back along with Greg Forest of Central Florida. Forest, who led after both the first and second days of the tourney, closed with a disappointing 73.
Both Wake and Baylor had their chances in the playoff. All five players went off the 18th tee, with the top four scores counting. The playoff follows the tournament format where only the top four scores count in the team tally for the day. The worst score is thrown out.
On the first playoff session, Baylor's Colton Williams, who struggled at No. 18 all week, made the Bears' only birdie, but McCartin equalized with a birdie. Both Webb Simpson and Dustin Groves had 20-foot birdie putts, but just missed. Simpson's putt was exactly the same putt PGA Tour player J.B. Holmes made to end a playoff in the tournament in 2005 and lift Kentucky to victory over Augusta State. Simpson's three-foot come-backer did a 360 before falling. He wiped his brow and mimed, "Whew," as he drew the ball from the hole.
Both teams recorded eight pars the second time around. "Back to 18," said Bulls Bat head Pro Stephen Salatan. "We'll keep doing it till we get it right, but if you tie this time, we'll go to the ninth."
Wake obviated the need for a switch of playoff holes. Playing in a fivesome with Baylor's Turnquist and Williams, Moore and Gielow rolled in a pair of tricky 25-foot footers for birdie, igniting the crowd. Not to be outdone, McCartin rolled in a third birdie, meaning the three Baylor Bears in the group behind must all birdie to extend the playoff. The odds were long as all three had 30-footers. As he arrived at the green, the Wake captain applauded his teammates. When Wes Williams missed the first Baylor try, the playoff ended.
"We had seen those putts all week and twice in the playoff," said MCartin. "We finally got them to drop in a bunch. In threes actually, which has been a lucky number for us this week. Dustin stayed in Room 333, we played Titleist number 3s and it was the third playoff hole. It'll be nice to see coach ride the bull."
"Yeah, I declined last year, but since we repeated, I'll ride the bull this year," said Coach Haas, brother of PGA player Jay Haas.
Since launching his first golf writing website in 2004, http://www.jayflemma.thegolfspace.com, Jay Flemma's comparative analysis of golf designs and knowledge of golf course architecture and golf travel have garnered wide industry respect. In researching his book on America's great public golf courses (and whether they're worth the money), Jay, an associate editor of Cybergolf, has played over 220 nationally ranked public golf courses in 37 different states. Jay has played about 1,649,000 yards of golf - or roughly 938 miles. His pieces on travel and architecture appear in Golf Observer (www.golfobserver.com), Cybergolf and other print magazines. When not researching golf courses for design, value and excitement, Jay is an entertainment, copyright, Internet and trademark lawyer and an Entertainment and Internet Law professor in Manhattan. His clients have been nominated for Grammy and Emmy awards, won a Sundance Film Festival Best Director award, performed on stage and screen, and designed pop art for museums and collectors. Jay lives in Forest Hills, N.Y., and is fiercely loyal to his alma maters, Deerfield Academy in Massachusetts and Trinity College in Connecticut.