Jonathan Alden survived a back nine meltdown to capture the Men’s City Championship by one shot over Brian Noonan, Seger Howell, Ben Carter, and Charles Neel White.
When the day started, Alden was at 14 under par and had a four shot lead over Seger Howell at -10 and and five over Brian Noonan at -9. This threesome was several shots clear of the field.
After they played the front nine Alden was at 13 under, Howell was 11 under and Noonan was 9 under for the tournament.
Then began the steady and sometimes sudden demise of the final group over the back nine.
It started on 10 where Howell made double bogey and dropped to 9 under. Over the course of the next several holes the group made a few bogeys along with several pars.
They arrived at the par five 16th with Alden at 11 under, Howell at 9 under and Noonan at 7 under.
After their tee shots on the 16th, Alden played his 200 yard second shot to the green from the right rough. The ball hit short, almost rolled onto the green and then rolled back into the water hazard.
The water hazard was marked yellow and as a result he had to drop short of the hazard even though his ball crossed the margin of the hazard up by the green.
He dropped and attempted to play his fourth shot onto the green. It was a delicate shot of fifty yards to a front pin over water to a hard green with the wind behind him. He tried to be too precise and dumped it into the water.
He dropped another ball and pitched his 6th shot over the green. He failed to get up and down, resulting in a quadruple bogey 9. Not good.
Meanwhile, Noonan went for the green on his second shot and knocked it into the water hazard. He proceeded to make bogey.
Howell played his second shot from the right rough, caught a flier that finished well over the green, chipped on and made par. Exiting the 16th green, Howell was -9, Alden -7 and Noonan -6. A four shot swing on the leaderboard.
While all this was transpiring, up ahead of the leaders, Ben Carter had recovered from a third round 79 to shoot 68 and post six under par for the tournament, including a birdie on the final hole. Charles Neel White was also in the clubhouse at 6 under par after posting an even par 72, including a bogey on the 18th.
On the long par four 17th, with a strong wind quartering into the players from the left, Alden hit the green in regulation and two putted for par. Noonan was short of the green in two but chipped and putted well to made a par four.
Howell missed the fairway left, hit his second shot left, chipped on and two putted for bogey. Headed to the 18th, Howell lead by one at -8 with Alden at -7 and Noonan at -6.
On the difficult par four 18th, Noonan had the honors and played driver up the right side of the fairway to about 145 yards from the green. With the left to right wind, this was perfect position.
Alden chose to play aggressively since he was a shot behind and selected a driver for the tee shot. He managed to hit the narrow, tree lined fairway finishing on the left side about 145 yards out.
Howell, with a one shot lead and obviously playing to make a par, selected a hybrid from the tee. He pulled it left into the water hazard about 200 yards short of the green.
Howell dropped from the hazard and faced a long shot partially blocked by trees to a green surrounded by bunkers and water hazards. His third shot required a hook to negotiate the trees and he overdid it. His ball went into the water hazard on the left side of the green. Although it was in the hazard, it hung up in the grass and was playable.
Now he faced a difficult downwind lob shot onto the green in an effort to make bogey and finish at seven under par. He played his 4th quite well but the wind pushed the ball past the hole to about 15 feet.
Alden played his second shot from the left of the fairway with a strong left to right wind and put it into the bunker to the right of the green.
His third was played back against the wind and was not too difficult except for the circumstances. He exploded out to about six feet.
Noonan, who needed to make birdie, played a poor second shot from the fairway and left it 10 feet short of the putting surface. He pitched his third to about three feet.
So, now it all hinged on Alden and Howell’s putts. Each had a putt to finish seven under par. Howell from about 15-18 feet, Alden from six feet. If they both missed, it meant a five man playoff with Alden, Howell, Carter, Noonan, and White.
Howell putted first and putted well. But his putt lipped out and he made double bogey to finish at six under. He was understandably disappointed and frustrated with his bogey, double bogey finish.
So, after four days of play and posting rounds of 68-64-69, suffering setbacks on the back nine including a quadruple bogey, Alden, who had seemingly given away his chance to win the tournament, had a six foot putt to capture the championship.
He lined it up and knocked it in.
While friends and supporters congratulated him alongside the 18th, he was heard to comment. “I’m not sure but I think I won.”
With all the changes in the leaderboard over the closing holes, it’s understandable that he had difficulty keeping up with the scoring. The action was hard on the players but exciting for the spectators.
To see the complete leaderboard including statistics for the round, click here.
In a close race with Greg Smith, Chris Hartenstein won the low senior honors. Hartenstein was under par for most to tournament and started the day at three under par. But like so many he fell prey to the high winds on Sunday and finished at four over par for the tournament. That is still good playing.
Although disappointed at having lost by a shot and contemplating what could have been, Ben Carter, Brian Noonan and Charles Neel White were gracious enough to pose for this photo and managed to muster up a smile. They played well over four days.
The average score for the field on Sunday was 77.11. The same field averaged 74 on Saturday. The difference was that the wind blew hard on Sunday and the golf course was set up to play more difficult in the final round. Steve Hammond, who set up the course had said “We will give the players a couple of shots on Saturday an take them back on Sunday”. His predictions proved to be accurate.
Congratulations to the City of Austin Golf staff for conducting a well run tournament. The pace of play was excellent for the most part, the courses were in good condition and the pin and tee locations were well thought out. The staff at all the courses were courteous and helpful. Thanks to you from all the players.
|T2||Charles Neel White||E||F||-6||73||73||63||72||281|
|T27||Gerry Diaz Sr||+8||F||+5||67||74||71||80||292|
|MC||John Newberry Jr||+15||77||81||158|