I may not have promised you a rose garden, but I did guarantee an exciting and competitive finish. The April Corona Cup came to a dramatic close yesterday. As the opening match of the Cup lurked just hours in the future, Dick Cahal was pessimistic. “I don’t think I can play enough to stand a chance,” he opined.
“Yea, right,” I said. “Now gimme your hundred dollar bill.” (This is the only time the term “gimme” is acceptable within our group.) Cahal still resisted, but under threat of public shaming, he pulled a Franklin from a wad of bills that looked like a much sought after roll of Charmin.
By the time the last putt found the bottom of the hole yesterday, Dick Cahal had fleeced the entire group and carried home the $500 that went along with first place. “I just got lucky – again”, he grinned much as Jesse James would have as he walked away from the stage coach.
The complete standings for the Corona Cup are shown below. We paid sixteen places in a very competitive event.
Just how competitive was it? Only twice during the course of the entire event did the same person hold down first place for more than one event. Through fourteen rounds, there were twelve lead changes.
As another example of the intensity of the competition, note that Pat Collins languished in 20th place on the eve of the final round. He appeared to be all but hopelessly out of the money. Pat carded a most respectable net 69 and vaulted himself from out-of-sight of the leaders into 9th place overall. Phil Ortez recorded the day’s best net 68. He had a precarious finger-hold on 15th place, barely in the money, yet jumped into a top six finish.
Given the format of the Corona Cup, it was persistence and consistency that paid off. Finishers carried the day over those with the hot starts. It wasn’t so much what you did right; it was more a case of what you didn’t do wrong. To illustrate, I’ll cite the final round of someone I watched play. He turned in a respectable front side shooting his handicap. On that back side, he seemed to drop into his “grove”. You know the feeling. Even after missing a couple of very makeable five footers, he stood on the seventeenth tee box under gross par for the back. He knew all he had to do to bring home first place was cruise in conservatively on the final two holes. So much for cruise control.
The tee shot on #17 went wayward. Six hundred forty-two sock stickers later, he managed to punch out. Once on the green, he missed a four foot putt for bogey. On #18, with a wider fairway and still in command, he hit another cruise missile into ankle-itch country, punched out, and missed a six-footer for bogey.
Happens to everyone, right? But here’s what it meant in the final standings. Had he just played the final two holes in one over par, he would have finished the tournament in fourth place. With the first pathetic tee shot, he moved himself from fourth place to sixth place. The second swing catastrophe took him from sixth place to eighth place. When the dust (and sand) had settled on the #18th green, after fourteen rounds in a competitive race, he had used two holes and four strokes to move himself from fourth place to twelfth. He wasn’t happy. I know; I am him. Nonetheless, it’s an example of what a great and competitive fourteen rounds of tournament golf we had.