Robert Evans faced a difficult two putt on number 16 during Sunday’s final round of the 2015 Spring Championship. His first putt, up and over a ridge to a hole location on the back right of the green, was exposed to a significant cross breeze from the right. He managed to lag the 30 footer to within two feet and hole it for a par.
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After 16, Evans was at one under par for the tournament, tied with Paul Romero and Jeff Shell for the lead with two holes to play. He was playing in the penultimate group ahead of the leaders and hit a good drive on 17, followed with a three wood to just short and right of the green. A pitch over the bunker to four feet and a holed putt resulted in a birdie. His drive on 18 came to rest in the fairway 100 yards from the pin. A lob wedge to within two feet of the hole allowed him to tap in for birdie and what ultimately proved to be a two shot victory.
This is the first local victory of note for Evans although he has had numerous high finishes and is a consistent contender. It may prove to be a turning point in his future performance because he certainly has the game to become a consistent winner. He commented that this was a learning experience in several ways. For example, in the first round he shot 31 on the front nine and was standing in the middle of 10 fairway looking at another birdie opportunity. He commented that he was not used to being in that position and as a result made three bogies on the back side. However, his birdies on 17 and 18 Sunday proved that he can overcome the pressure and win. Maybe this victory will help him believe.
Unaware that Evans was making birdies, Romero and Shell were battling it out on 17 and 18. On 17, Romero drove it left into number 2 fairway then played a wonderful second shot to just short of the green. He then pitched to about 10 feet short of the pin. His birdie attempt missed and he settled for par.
Shell drove the ball perfectly on 17 and was in position to make birdie or eagle. However his second shot from the fairway was hooked to just left of the green and provided him with a difficult pitch shot to get close to the pin.
He chose to play a run shot and got it on the green but considerably short of the hole. His birdie attempt of some 20 feet was a slightly downhill right breaker that he left a foot short. He made the putt for par and remained tied with Romero at one under for the tournament. Neither player was aware that Evans had birdied the last two holes so they thought they were playing for the championship.
The 18th had it’s drama for both Shell and Romero. Romero drove the ball wide right and was lucky to have a clear shot at the pin. He dumped his second shot into the bunker, leaving him with a difficult up and down for what he thought was a shot at the title. His explosion shot of 60 feet up and over a ridge was executed beautifully, leaving him with about five feet for par. He made the putt.
Shell was not so lucky with his tee shot when he barely missed the fairway to the right but wound up close to a newly planted tree that restricted his backswing. He played a nice shot but it ran through the green. He got it up and down for par. Both players made five footers for what they thought might have been for the title.
The second place finish for Shell and Romero are excellent performances and will help both players confidence. This is the second high finish of the season for Romero as he finished 4th in the San Antonio Regional event a couple of weeks ago. When asked about his improved play he commented that he has overcome a back issue that occurred in 2010 and has been working hard on his game in an effort to make the Rudy’s I-35 Cup team. He is off to a good start.
Shell has also had some success in the past in local events with several top ten finishes. This second place finish will help his confidence.
Erik Henson and Jay Reynolds finished at one over par for the tournament and tied for fourth place. David Bale’s 70 was the low round on Sunday and propelled him forward into a tie with Brian Noonan for 6th place.
In the first flight, Steve Trafton shot 78-74 to capture the title.
In contrast to last year, the golf course was in excellent condition, thanks to the efforts of Jason Chapman – Golf Course Superintendent – and his staff. The greens, although very firm, had excellent putting surfaces. They proved to be very challenging in the 20-25 mph winds that blew Sunday. All the players were complimentary of the Golf Course and the way the tournament was administered. Thanks to Beth Cleckler and all the staff at Morris Williams.
Shown here are some of the top finishers in the tournament posing with Evans and Beth Cleckler. Congratulations to those with high finishes and all who participated in the tournament.
See more photos following the scores below.
|T19||George “Bubba” Sykes||F||+8||73||79||152|
|T58||J P Scott||F||+18||82||80||162|
|T62||T. Ross Henry||F||+20||83||81||164|
For those of you who are interested in golfing technique, here are a few swing sequences from some of the leaders. First, Steve Paterson’s tee shot on 17.
Paterson’s Tee Shot on 18. This swing resulted in a fairly straight shot down the right side of the fairway.
Jeff Shell’s Tee shot on 18. Ball flight was slightly right to left and finished just right of the fairway.
Paul Romero’s tee shot on 17. This ball finished left of 17 fairway.