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Two teams split amateur title

Published 8/13/2012 in Pro-Am

By KEVIN THOMPSON

sports@gctelegram.com

With a little twist of fortune, two teams tied for the amateur title at the Southwest Kansa Pro-Am.

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Brad Nading/Telegram Amateur playing partners Marty Cook, left, Mike Henry and Clark Churchill watch the putt of Jay Main Saturday on The Golf Club at Southwind's No. 9 green during the final day of the Southwest Kansas Pro-Am.

Brad Nading/Telegram Amateur playing partners Marty Cook, left, Mike Henry and Clark Churchill watch the putt of Jay Main Saturday on The Golf Club at Southwind's No. 9 green during the final day of the Southwest Kansas Pro-Am.

Friday's Buffalo Dunes leaders of Marty Cook, Jay Main, Mike Henry and Clark Churchill (16 under par) were three shots ahead of The Golf Club at Southwind co-leaders Tyler Schiffelbein, John Washington, Matt Kirchoff and Bill Schmeckel.

Those scores were shot under pristine, ideal conditions.

Saturday's final round, however, saw higher temperatures and stronger winds as teams traded golf courses.

In the end, Washington's team found the early morning conducive to a 13-under-par 58 at the public course, while Cook's team managed only a 10-under par 61 at the private course.

The result — both groups sharing the title at 26-under.

Cook, the golf coach at Stanton County High School and playing in his first Pro-Am, said they knew their noon tee time would put them in the crosshairs of a typical hot and breezy Kansas day.

That foursome, which had made 16 straight birdies on Friday morning at Buffalo Dunes, fell back to a more typical balance of pars and birdies.

Their target number was 12-under for Saturday, he said, which they missed by two strokes, including birdie putt misses at holes 8 and 9, their final two holes.

"The wind was up and it was hot, and on the back the greens really firmed up," Cook said. "Friday was awesome; Saturday was a little rough."

Meanwhile, Washington's team found their 7:30 tee time just fine. Starting on the front nine, they parred the first and ninth holes and ran off seven straight birdies in between.

On their back nine, the wind became more of a factor, but it helped on the short par-5 13th, where they fired a 3 for an eagle.

"We used the pro's drive right at 195 (yards) out with the wind at our back. I guessed an 8-iron and played it like 165 and left it about eight feet from the pin and one putt," Washington said.

"That was huge," Kirchoff added. "We'd just parred two of the last three, but after the eagle, we just started to relax."

After two more pars, Schiffelbein told his group they would birdie the final three holes, and his words turned prophetic.

"We parred 14 and 15 going into the wind but thought, with three holes to go, if we could finish birdie-biridie-birdie, that would break 60," he said. "We thought that would be pretty good since the wind was going to pick up."

Washington said course conditions were really great, including true rolls on the greens, a remarkable feat for both courses' grounds crews in the face of tough summer conditions.

Schiffelbein, the golf coach at Iowa Western Community College, said his team hit a lot of greens Saturday, just as they did Friday, when they had 17 birdie attempts. Saturday wasn't as great, he said, but it was enough. Playing the nine par-3's in 7-under was likely the key to their tournament.

"That was the game changer for us," he said.

Finishing third at 23-under was the team of Bob Gielow, Rick Atha, Steve Wilkinson and Jim Johnson.

Three groups finished at 22-under, and three finished at 21-under.

See results in Scoreboard, Page B2.

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