Burdick-Kennedy win 1-up gut-buster
GREENFIELD (August 4, 2013) — Nate Burdick tees off during the Invitational 4 Ball Championship held at the Country Club of Greenfield on Sunday. Recorder/Trish Crapo
GREENFIELD (August 4, 2013) — Dave Kennedy putts during the Invitational 4 Ball Championship held at the Country Club of Greenfield on Sunday. Recorder/Trish Crapo
GREENFIELD (August 4, 2013) — Dennis Booska tees off during the Invitational 4 Ball Championship held at the Country Club of Greenfield on Sunday. Recorder/Trish Crapo
GREENFIELD (August 4, 2013) — Nate Burdick watches as Dennis Booska takes a shot during the Invitational 4 Ball Championship held at the Country Club of Greenfield on Sunday. Recorder/Trish Crapo
GREENFIELD (August 4, 2013) — KC Finley takes a shot during the Invitational 4 Ball Championship held at the Country Club of Greenfield on Sunday while Nate Burdick looks on. Recorder/Trish Crapo
KC Finley. Recorder/Trish Crapo
GREENFIELD — It was nearly as good as advertised: an all-host-club final that went to the 18th hole, with mostly solid golf played by all four competitors.
It will also be remembered for two shots on the final two holes.
Nate Burdick nearly holed-out his approach shot for eagle on the 17th hole to give him and partner Dave Kennedy their first lead of the day, and KC Finley’s birdie attempt on the 18th to force extra holes somehow stayed out of the cup as Burdick and Kennedy held on for a 1-up victory to capture the Invitational Four-Ball championship Sunday afternoon at the Country Club of Greenfield.
On 17, Booska and Finley had both missed the green on their approach shots and Kennedy’s second shot went to the back of the green. Burdick, who was in the middle of the fairway 109 yards from the cup, selected his gap wedge and hit an easy three-quarter shot that bounced short, released onto the green and stopped four inches from the cup, eliciting a round of applause from the sizeable gallery surrounding the green.
“That drive in the middle of a tight fairway set me up with a good yardage, he said. “I only needed to hit it about 103, and I hit it the way I wanted to and landed it exactly where I wanted it to.”
“It was a great shot by Nater, and a good time for it, too,” added Booska.
After Finley’s chip shot to tie the hole missed, Booska stepped up to his potential tying chip and struck what looked like a perfect shot. When the rolling ball approached the hole, it stayed straight and rolled over the right edge of the cup as he dropped his club in disbelief.
“That break had no business straightening out,” said Booska, who has a history of making clutch shots in the Four-Ball. “Nate and Dave both said it was going in and it just straightened out at the end. ... It is what it is.”
“I still don’t know how Dennis’ shot didn’t go in,” offered Burdick.
On 18, Finley knocked his approach to within 10 feet right of the flag. Booska hit a stellar second shot from the deep rough on the right and left it on the front right fringe. Burdick was on the front of the green and Kennedy’s second shot came to rest 25 feet right of the cup.
After Booska rolled his birdie try just past the hole, both Burdick and Kennedy missed potential match-clinching putts to the left, leaving the door open for Finley to force bonus golf.
After Finley and Booska both studied the line, Finley stepped up and struck his birdie putt firm and square, and it was heading to the heart of the cup, but the speed caused it the strike the back of the cup, bounce in the air and come to rest less than an inch to the right of the hole.
Finley, after watching the ball come to rest, dropped his head in disbelief, looked up with a big smile and began clapping to congratulate his opponents and friends for their hard-fought win.
“I hit the chip too far right and I knew it.” said Finely, referring to his second shot. “But I had a good line on the putt and I just hit it a little firm.”
“I still can’t believe that putt didn’t drop,” added Booska.
Kennedy, who in his career has never lost in the finals (he’s now 4-0), said he and Nate were equally shocked that they didn’t go to a playoff.
“That’s got to be one of the most unique missed putts on the 18th, with the match on the line, to hit dead nuts and bounce out,” he said.
The front side was entertaining and interesting. Both teams missed birdie opportunities on the first two holes, then a struggle on the third hole turned into the first break of the match when Finley reached the long par-4 in regulation and two-putted from 40 feet, and Kennedy was unable to save par from eight feet.
Kennedy missed a chance to get it back on the fourth when his eight-foot birdie try slid by the left edge and Booska made an impressive par save from 10 feet after he hit his tee shot into the left trees and was forced to punch out. Kennedy redeemed himself with a nice two-putt par from 30 feet on the par-3 fifth, and Finley (seven feet) and Booska (five feet) were unable to convert, leaving the match even.
Booska rallied on the next hole to help his team regain the lead. After hitting into the left rough on his second shot, his third came to rest against the front left fringe, 20 feet from the cup. After Kennedy’s birdie try came up short, Booska drained his birdie putt to go 1-up.
On the short par-4 seventh, all four laid up, then Booska hit his approach short and it kicked onto the green, coming to rest four feet short of the cup as the rain started to fall. The other three played their approach shots in the steady rain, then a downpour halted play for about 10 minutes.
When play resumed, Burdick left his 25-foot birdie putt short, then Booska drained his birdie try to go 2-up.
After tying the eighth with birdies, Kennedy hit the shot of the front side when he stuck a 136-yard shot to a foot from the hole on the par-4 ninth for a conceded birdie. That seemed to spark Burdick and Kennedy, and the momentum seemed to change, even if just slightly.
“I think it did a little bit,” said Kennedy. “You’re always a little more comfortable 1-down (as opposed to 2-down).”
After tying the next three holes, Booska and Finely appeared ready to regain their 2-up lead when Finley nearly drove the green and left his second shot inside three feet for a very makeable birdie. But Kennedy responded by making a 15-foot birdie putt to get a crucial tie heading to the par-5 14th. Kennedy then evened the match when he drained a 35-foot birdie putt after Finley left his birdie try short.
“Getting that halve (on 13) was big, and to come back and birdie 14 was huge,” said Burdick.
“The birdie on 13 was the turning point,” offered Finley, “because they’re basically giving me my birdie, and (Dave) had to hit a really good putt and he did. Otherwise they go 2-down and it’s a totally different story.”
The teams then tied 15 and 16 with pars, setting the stage for Burdick’s heroics.
“Most of the time in golf you get rewarded for consistency, and we’re two pretty steady players,” said Kennedy. “It didn’t seem like we were really rattled when they got the early lead. They had made a few good shots and we really hadn’t made anything.”
“For us, it was patience and consistency,” added Burdick. “I knew Dennis was struggling with his tee ball, so it seemed like it was 2-on-1 for a little while, and I felt like we could wear them down a little bit. But KC stepped up his play like he always does. There’s no question he’s the best player up here.”
Finley was impressed with the play of their opponents.
“They played that well pretty much all weekend, and we scraped it around to get here,” said Finley. “If there’s golf karma, the right team won the four-ball, but it was still a great match to watch, and to play in. They’re good players, they’re good friends, and it was a fun day. I had a blast.”
Burdick knew that was a title he and Kennedy earned.
“Dennis and KC are the best,” he said. “To win this tournament is difficult, and it is so hard to defend, and they’re champions through and through. They’re great friends, and they had a great weekend.”