Always answer the wake up call, because it might not ring again. That’s the lesson the Demon Deacons avoided learning the hard way at the Hootie at Bulls Bay Collegiate Invitational. The Wake Forest golf team squandered a gargantuan lead late, then rallied in a nail-biting sudden death playoff that lasted three extra holes to repeat as champions.
The Deacs had a six shot lead with four to play, then frittered away the whole margin, playing the last four holes as a team at 8-over. Baylor played the same holes 2-under.Â “One minute we were looking pretty good, then we we’re in a playoff” said Sean Moore. “It shows you hard the finish is here and how this course turns into a completely different golf course when the wind blows.” After limping home with a double bogey, bogey finish, Moore was won of three Wake players to birdie the eighteenth hole on the third time around. Chris McCartin and Brendan Gielow also birdied.
“It just goes to show, it’s never over till it’s over, but we hung tough despite a bad scare” said McCartin, a sociology major from Arlington, Virginia. “I didn’t look at a leaderboard all day. The only updates I got were from Coach Haas. He kept saying people were playing all right, but then walking up 18, one fan said that we were 18-under and that we had a good size lead. I knew Baylor was playing well, but it seemed like we had some cushion. I had a 7 footer to go 19 under, but missed it.”
Indeed, things looked good as the Deacs were six shots up on the Bears, who finished regulation play at 12-under. But in a frantic fifteen minute span, after McCartin stumbled at the finish, Dustin Groves three-putted the par-3 17th from eight feet and Gielow splashed his tee shot on the par-4 16th, making double. Gielow also bogeyed 17.
“They updated the leaderboard every two or three holes. One minute the leaderboard said that Wake was -18 and Baylor -12 and then when it changed next it read Wake -12, Baylor -12. I thought it was a mistake” said Alex Ross, a fan from Columbia, SC. “Everyone looked around stunnedâ€¦everyone except the Baylor guys.”
The plucky Baylor squad, was led by Wes Williams’ 66. he Demon Deacons rattled in three birdies to seal the victory. Both teams finished regulation play at 12-under. Florida State (7-under) edged out the Golden Knights of Central Florida by one shot to claim third place. Baylor’s surge was powered by Williams’ hole-in-one on Bulls Bay’s 154 yard par-3 7th hole. He used an 8-iron top record the second ace of his career. Webb Simpson led Wake Forest with a 66.
Individual medalist honors went to Augusta State’s Wallace Booth, who fired a 6-under final round 65, finishing the three-day tournament at 8-under. Simpson finished one shot back along with Greg Forest of Central Florida. Forest, who led after both the first and second days of the tourney closed with a disappointing 73.
Both Wake and Baylor had their chances in the playoff. All five players went off the eighteenth tee, with the top four scores counting. The playoff follows the tournament format where only the top four scores count in the team tally for the day. The worst score is thrown out.
In the first playoff session, Baylor’s Colton Williams, who struggled at 18 all week, made the Bears’ only birdie, but McCartin equalized with a birdie. Both Webb Simpson and Dustin Groves had twenty foot birdie putts, but just missed. Simpson’s putt was exactly the same putt PGA player J.B. Holmes made to end a playoff in the tournament in 2005 and lift Kentucky to victory over Augusta State. Simpson’s three foot come-backer did a 360 before falling. He wiped his brow and mimed “Whew” as he drew the ball from the hole.
Both teams recorded eight pars on the second run through. “Back to 18” said Bulls Bat head Pro Stephen Salatan. “We’ll keep doing it till we get it right, but if you tie this time, we’ll go to the ninth.”
Wake however obviated the need for a switch. Playing in a fivesome with Baylor’s Turnquist and Williams, Moore and Gielow rolled in a pair of tricky twenty-five footers for birdie, igniting the crowd. Not to be outdone, McCartin rolled in a third birdie, meaning the three Baylor bears in the group behind must all birdie to extend the playoff. The odds were long as all three had thirty footers. As he arrived at the green, Wake captain applauded his teammates. When Wes Williams missed the first Baylor try, the playoff ended.
“We had seen those putts all week and twice in the playoff” said MCartin. “We finally got them to drop in a bunch. In threes actually, which has been a lucky number for us this week. Dustin syaed in room 333, we played Titleist number 3s and it was the third playoff hole. It’ll be nice to se coacj ride the bull.”
“Yeah, I declined last year, but since we repeated, I’ll ride the bull this year: said Coach Jerry Haas, brother of PGA player Jay Haas.
It was the second straight Hootie at Bulls Bay victory for Wake Forest. They ran away with last year’s title by sixteen shots.
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