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Randolph and DeJohn Derail Ferocious Carolina Comeback, Win 86th Anderson Memorial Fourball at Winged Foot


Randolph and DeJohn Derail Ferocious Carolina Comeback, Win 86th Anderson Memorial Fourball at Winged Foot

—by Jay Flemma, Golf News Net—

MAMARONECK, NY – I’ll paraphrase an old pop-punk song lyric that describes the happy conundrum facing Trevor Randolph and Chris DeJohn after winning the 86th John G. Anderson Memorial Fourball Tournament at Winged Foot Golf Club:


Here we go thinkin’ bout all the cool things that we’ve done,

Gonna need a forklift, cause all the trophies weigh a ton,

I know we had our problems, but I can’t remember one…


Adding this splendid booty to his illustrious career haul, Randolph has won the Travis Invitational at Garden City Golf Club (in 2016) and now the Anderson, to complete two legs of the unofficial Grand Slam for mid-Amateur golfers. (The others being the Crump Cup at Pine Valley and the Coleman Invitational at Seminole.) Randolph also won last week’s New Jersey Senior Open, as well as a host of MGA events, and the club championship at fabled Congressional, site of multiple major championships.

Meanwhile, DeJohn has now won the Travis and the Anderson in the same year. Met Golf Association historians are still researching the last time (if ever) that a golfer won both in the same season, but are certain that it’s been since at least 1983, possibly much earlier, making that a feat 40 years or more in the making.

There have been some whiz-bang finales to the Anderson – still the oldest, most storied, and venerable of two-player team events – but history will recall this 86th playing as undoubtedly one of the finest. On the one hand you had two of the most decorated players in recent Met Golf Association – Randolph and DeJohn, playing out of Arcola Country Club in New Jersey – whose golf accomplishments fill pages.

And through the first three rounds of match play, they never trailed any opponent at any time.

Opposing them were a pair of strapping young guns, fairly recent college grads from the Thornblade Club in South Carolina, Steven Bright and Crawford Reeves, a pair that described themselves as athletes first, and golfers second. With good reason actually, Bright was a Division I quarterback for the SEC’s Vanderbilt Commodores. He’s a dead ringer for a young Robert Redford, and if they ever do a Jack Nicklaus movie, he should play Jack. He has the looks and the game. Not to be outdone, Reeves is another former, well-decorated collegiate player who, although he entered the work force like nearly every player in the field, he’s maintained a game that features Hammer of Thor drives but the soft touch of a Chelsea hairdresser around the greens.

And while Randolph and DeJohn had never trailed in any match at any time, Reeves and Bright were the giant killers of the first three rounds. First, they defeated Trip Kuehne and Mike Lohner, who for decades have been enormously successful. Kuehne was runner-up to Tiger Woods at the 1994 U.S. Amateur and played on the Walker Cup team. Then they knocked off the number one-seed and pre-tournament favorites Nico Donaldson and Mark Costanza. And in the morning semi-final match they reeled in a team calling themselves the “Back Nine Bandits,” Blair Webb ad Andrew Rhodes, whose late round heroics had stunned two much higher seeds.

Engage Whiz-bang Mode!


As in their prior three matches, Randolph and DeJohn got ahead early, taking the lead on the second hole with a par then increasing their lead to 3-up after 7 with a routine birdie at the drive-able par-4 sixth by DeJohn and a routine par at the short par-3 seventh, “Babe in the Woods,” by Randolph.

“We did a better job of putting two balls in the fairway and two balls on the green then they did on the front nine,” explained Randolph. “Chris was so long off the tee, all tournament, he had 3-4 clubs less than the competitors into many hole, and he made some big putts to help get us up early.”

But the margin was to be short lived. Reeves and Bright finally steadied the ship at the eighth, winning that hole with a par and the ninth with a birdie. That proved to be the only hole they would win with a birdie. The lead was down to 1-up for the MGA boys from Arcola.

The teams traded victories on Winged Foot West’s brilliant and iconic back nine par-3s with mundane pars, and as they turned towards the finish – five brutally long par-4s with Brobdingnagian green contours – the lead was still 1-up.

“We lost 13, and we never should have. It was a turning point in the match,” Randolph confided as a 2-up lead shrank back to 1-up. “We felt momentum shifting their way.”

Reeves would birdie again at the 14th, but Randolph answered immediately, proving that momentum in match play golf is the next shot. Suddenly the Arcola boys were buoyed again.

“Trev wedged I to five feet right after Reeves hit it even closer than that,” DeJohn stated. “It shifted the momentum back to us because it looked like they were going to tie the match.”

Both teams parred 15, Randolph playing a terrific sand shot to two feet, while Bright rolled in a sharply breaking eight-foot putt. Both teams played 16 poorly, halving it with disgraceful bogeys. 17 was also halved with pars.

Then came the hawk…or to be exact, “The Hawk that Nearly Ate the Anderson.”

“We were walking off the 17th green and just about to the tee box when we hear a noise coming from the tree hanging over us that sounds like an acorn bouncing off upper branches,” DeJohn began, with a hefty dose of trepidation. “A few seconds later down falls the decapitated body of a squirrel, right by our feet. As we look up to the top of the tree, we see this huge hawk, and it has the bloody squirrel’s head in its mouth. It totally unnerved us.”

Did it ever. You’d have thought they saw Rodan from the Godzilla movies.

DeJohn jerk-pulled his tee shot off a tree just left off the tee and it bounced into perdition. He was never a factor in the hole, and was in pocket shortly thereafter. Meanwhile, Randolph hit a goofy slice.

Both their opponents were dead center of the fairway. They put both of their approaches on the green. Talk about playing well in the cutch at the right time. And when Randolph failed to get up-and-down from behind the green, it was on to sudden death extras holes.

“They a staged a fierce comeback, and we held them off as long as we could,” Randolph began. “But we did not want to lose 18.”

The playoff began on the first hole and would progress in order until a winner emerged. Of all the holes on the West Course to have to face during a playoff perhaps only 18 is more daunting. At 460 yards it’s not length that makes the first hole so frightening, it’s the insidious green with a false front that shamed Jack Nicklaus during the bloody “Massacre at Winged Foot.” It also has long rails in its mid-section, fall offs on all sides, bunkers and rough.

It’s not the type of hole where Plan A is to pull your drive into the long, juicy rough with a tree in your way with the pin tucked flush middle left on one of the green’s smallest ledges, but that’s exactly what DeJohn did.

Worst angle ever.

Stephen Bright was over there with DeJohn, though. Meanwhile, Randolph laser beamed his drive to the center of the fairway. Reeves drove it 40 yards past Randolph, just in the left rough.

It was then that DeJohn hit the shot of the tournament.

Bright hit first, actually and went over the pin and over the green, just to the back edge. Which to Randolph made DeJohn’s shot even more remarkable.

“I had 140 short-sided with the tree in the way, and the ball was sitting down in the rough. So, I clubbed down to 50-degree gap wedge to ride the flyer lie. I took dead aim at the flag,” DeJohn recalled. “When the club left the face, it was dead on. It landed next to the flag, ran up the hill a couple feet, but then came right back down to ten inches. Even that 10-inch putt I had to play right center.”

The birdie proved the clincher, capping a record setting week in a number of ways. First and foremost, this is Winged Foot’s centennial year. Happy 100th anniversary to the Yankee stadium of Golf! Second, the record for the lowest qualifying score fell Friday afternoon as Donaldson and Costanza posted 12-under to break the record by one shot. Now we have Randolph and DeJohn winning the Anderson after not trailing the entirety of the match play portion of the event. They only carded five bogeys the entire six rounds of the tournament. And they fed off each other, creating stress free rounds.

Let’s also not forget the gallant and tenacious runners-up. With youth, power, experience, and family their side – former PGA star Jay Haas is Bright’s father-in law. They will contend in a great many fourball events to come.

“Some weeks everything falls in line,” DeJohn observed. “We both were feeling strong coming in, and sometimes it’s clicking and things go your way. And we made the putts.”

Meanwhile Randolph turns a sad memory into a happier if still bittersweet one. Ten years earlier, he learned of his m mother’s passing while playing in the Anderson. Now the sight of his name in gold paint above Nib’s Bar will honor her memory.

“It’s very special,” he surmised succinctly. There were few dry eyes in the house at his gracious acceptance speech.

Once again, Winged Foot shows golf the way forward is not grillionaire athletes, but ordinary country club members honoring golf’s traditions and ethos. And no club in America epitomizes that noble altruism than Winged Foot. Judging from the last 100 years, two things are certain:  the next century will be even more superb, and they’re gonna need a forklift, cause all the trophies weigh a ton.