The matches had a similarity to this year's Ryder Cup matches in that Austin had gained an 8 1/2 to 5 1/2 lead after the first day's play and had the chance to make the contest a runaway victory. However, the San Antonio team reversed the momentum during the singles matches and posted an 8 1/2 to 5 1/2 total the second day to even the total score at 14-14 and retain the cup. Overall the event was a great success on many levels.
The opening ceremonies were held at Onion Creek Country Club. Onion Creek's location on the south side of Austin makes it convenient for the participants from San Antonio and Austin to access the course. And, facilities are well suited for the occasion. The members of Onion Creek have been generous in allowing this event to take place at their facility so thanks to them for helping make this event successful. During the ceremonies, Rudy's provided a meal, the winners of the Rivalry Before The Matches were recognized, the Austin and San Antonio Rudy's Cup teams were announced, Troy Matteson spoke and the Austin team posed for a team photo. (Click on any photo to enlarge it, then click on the back button to return to the story)
The "Rivalry Before The Matches", is the fund raising portion of the Rudy's I-35 Cup. Including this year's efforts, the Rudy's I-35 Cup has donated over $200,000 to Habitat for Humanity and the First Tee of San Antonio over four years of matches. The Rivalry Before The Matches features teams from Austin and San Antonio businesses and other organizations that compete against each other in a fund raiser. In all there were 24 matches during the Rivalry which raised money for charities. Thanks to all those folks who participated and contributed to this effort.
Troy Matteson, a current PGA touring professional from Austin and guest speaker for the evening, shared some of his experiences on the tour with the crowd, commented on the importance of golf in fostering our youth and praised the Rudy's I-35 Cup matches for contributions to charity. Matteson, on the left, posed for a picture with (left to right) Austin Assistant Captains Lonnie Alexander and Wes Scaggs along with Austin team members Brian Noonan and Mike Allen.
As the competition moved into the Cup matches, the venue moved to Cimarron Hills in Georgetown. Cimarron Hills is located on Highway 29 in Georgetown. The facilities include a wonderful clubhouse and a Jack Nicklaus designed golf course that offered the players plenty of challenge.
The golf course was in excellent condition and all the players enjoyed the variety of shots that the course presented. The staff at Cimarron Hills are to be congratulated for an excellent job in hosting the event. General manager, Rick Schaefer, Head Golf Professional Steve Talentino and the clubhouse staff at Cimarron Hills were friendly, courteous, professional and worked hard to provide a quality event. The players are grateful for their efforts and thank the membership at Cimarron Hills for granting the use of their fine facilities and for their volunteer efforts in score keeping, providing fore caddies and being so helpful.
Prior to the matches Saturday morning, the sun hid behind early morning clouds while the teams gathered at the first tee for team photos and the singing of the national anthem. Andrea Cavender did an excellent job of singing the national anthem acapella and it was inspirational in the quiet of the morning. Cavender sings for the "Sound of A.M." and "Third Language" so if you have a chance to hear either of these local cover bands, please do so. Cavender is shown here with San Antonio Team Captain Pat McMahan shortly after singing and just before play began.
As the first day's play unfolded, Austin gained a three point advantage of 8 1/2 to 5 1/2. There were a number of close matches that could have gone either way as is always the case in these competitions. As part of this first day total, Austin suffered a setback as one team was disqualified. As noted on the score board below the Austin team of Manny Bhakta and Drew Bell were recorded as DQ in both the four-ball and foursomes matches.
Here's what happened. Austin's Drew Bell and Manny Bhakhta were paired in the morning four-ball matches against Jacob Bowen and Randy Block from San Antonio. Bhakta and Bell won the match. They were paired against Bowen and Block again in the afternoon foursomes matches and after 12 holes the match was all square. On the 13th tee the players were informed that Drew Bell was ineligible to play. As a result, points for both the morning and afternoon matches for the Bell/Bhakta vs Bowen/Block were awarded to the San Antonio team.
The rules violation was an oversight on the part of the entire Austin team and it occurred in a somewhat bizarre fashion. Drew Bell, who played for the 2011 Austin Rudy's team, had qualified for the 2012 team through his play over the season. Bell, who is a mid-amateur in his late 20's, has also been a college student for the past couple of years. This year he transferred from Austin Community College to St. Edwards University and began playing golf for the St. Edwards team.
Because Bell had played for Austin in 2011 no one realized that Bell had become ineligible to play in the Rudy's Cup competition. His ineligibility was discovered when it was pointed out that the official Rudy's I-35 Cup Program states "The players may not be on a collegiate or university team." Unfortunately, that discovery occurred during the matches and not before the matches when an alternate could have been named. During the singles matches, Gene Black was named as an alternate to replace Bell. Black won his singles match against Harry Rameriz, who recently had reached the quarterfinals of the 2012 U.S.. Senior Amateur.
Naturally, all players on both teams regretted the situation and understood how the oversight had occurred. But, in the game of golf, rules are important and represent the integrity of the game so everyone agreed that the points for those two matches had to be awarded to San Antonio. Players on the Austin team all commented that they regretted the oversight but still felt their chances of winning the matches were excellent headed into the singles matches.
On day two in the singles matches, things were even for the first three matches. Then San Antonio gained momentum and won five consecutive matches, as can be seen by the singles matches scoreboard shown here. Although Austin rallied in the later matches, they fell one half a point short in their effort to win the cup and could only manage a tie for the overall cup.
Dean Lundquist, Captain for the Austin team and his Assistant Captains, Lonny Alexander and Wes Skaggs made significant contributions to the effort. Lundquist and his partners won two points on the first day of play. Before the matches he used his knowledge of the course to coach players about how to approach the course, including when to attack or play safe to various pin positions. He arranged for players practice rounds to learn the course. The preparation was very helpful.
Alexander and Skaggs were present on the course and particularly helpful with club selections on the par three holes. Their encouragement during the competition was greatly appreciated by the players.
There are always memorable moments in these competitions. Some occur when a player makes a great shot or a long putt. Or conversely, when he misses a short putt during a critical situation when the match hangs in the balance. That is the nature of match play. It is exciting, dramatic and provides the opportunity for players to rise to the occasion or fail in their attempt to win.
And of course, there are always moments of humor such as that shown below when Steve Patterson posed with a pink poodle who was barking up a storm in a backyard adjacent to the 3rd hole. Patterson and Mike Allen were playing their foursome match when they came upon this scene. It was too bizarre to pass up so Patterson posed with the poodle.
Randy Reynolds is the driving force behind the Austin Rudy's I-35 Cup efforts. He is due an enormous amount of credit for his efforts. He has spent a considerable amount of his free time in organizing the Rudy's Cup matches and fostering amateur golf in Austin. Congratulations to you Randy and to all the other folks who maintain the Austin Amateur Golf website. You can read more about these matches at the Austin Amateur Golf website.
Here is a link the Rudy's I-35 Cup photo Album.
When all is said and done, money was raised for good causes and the matches were a resounding success.