SANTA FE, N.M. (Sept. 10, 2014) — Ralph Ellis and Zack Norrell saved their best for last at the 34th Trans-Mississippi Four-Ball Championship.
The tandem from Amarillo Country Club scorched the Sunrise Course at The Club at Las Campanas for a final round 11-under 61 to seal an unlikely, come-from-behind victory over 36-hole leaders Dr. Brad Kropp and Clark Collier. Ellis and Norrell made 11 birdies Wednesday to post a three-day total of 19-under 197.
"That was the best four-ball round of golf I've seen in my life," said Collier, who along with Kropp held a six-shot lead with one round to play.
"Zack made eight birdies, some from kick-in range, others from 10-20 feet," the 56-year-old Ellis said. "We were putting for birdie on just about every hole."
Ellis and Norrell finished tied for fifth at Spanish Oaks Golf Club in Austin for the 2013 Trans-Miss Four Ball.
"This is the best we've played together; definitely the best away game performance," Norrell said.
Kropp and Collier finished in second place at 18-under 198. There were no hard feelings; they were astounded by the ball-striking and putting clinic the Amarillo men displayed.
"We shot 4-under today and didn't play bad at all," Kropp said. "They just made everything. We had a great time this week. This is a great facility and the Trans-Miss is an outstanding organization."
Perched at nearly 7,200 feet above sea level and set against the distant backdrop of the Sangre de Cristo mountains, the southern-most section of the Rockies, Las Campanas played to 7,256 yards for the Championship Division. Opened in 1991, the majestic club is the crown jewel of a 4,700-acre master-planned community. The club's 48,000-square-foot Hacienda Clubhouse is one of the largest abode-constructed buildings in the country. Las Campanas members not only enjoy the two Jack Nicklaus-designed championship golf courses; there's also a 31,000-square-foot indoor equestrian center that houses 90 horses, seven clay tennis courts and a world-class spa and fitness center.
The format for the Trans-Miss Four-Ball Championship was 54 holes of team stroke play in three divisions: Championship (25 years and older), Seniors (55 and older) and Super Seniors (65 and older). A total of 65 two-man teams entered the 34th playing of the annual event. The Seniors played the Sunrise Course from 6,733 yards, and the Super Seniors played it from 6,453 yards.
In the Senior Division, Herb Fisher celebrated his 61st birthday in style.
The Woodlands, Texas, resident, along with his Las Vegas teammate Doug Pool, held on to win by two shots. With three birdies on the back nine, they posted a final round 3-under 69 to total 15-under 201 overall. It was Fisher's first-ever tournament win. He's been playing golf seriously since 1999 when The Club at Carlton Woods in The Woodlands opened.
"It makes me feel really good because my wife was here to see it," Fisher said.
Indeed, Lis Fisher and Debbie Pool walked every step with their husbands Wednesday at Las Campanas. Debbie Pool flew in for the final round; Lis Fisher was by her man's side all week.
"Putting was the key, no doubt," Pool said. "Herb putted phenomenally. I mean he made almost everything he looked at."
The Dallas team of Lee Sandlin and Warren Huddleston made a furious run at Fisher and Pool with a final round 6-under 66. Sandlin and Huddleston made five birdies and an eagle against one bogey to total 13-under 203 for second place. Two other Texans, Ron Kilby from McAllen and Larry Nunez from Austin, finished alone in third place at 9-under 207.
The Super Senior Division produced the same winning score as the Seniors. Steve Dallas and Ed Smith, a regular four-ball tandem from Alta Mesa Golf Club in Mesa, Ariz., took home the hardware with a three-day total of 15-under 201.
"Steve made two or three putts that kept our momentum going," said the 71-year-old Smith. "That happened from the first day. He made some key par putts that kept us going. That was key, because I was in my pocket some of the time."
Dallas, 66, rebuffed the credit and said it was a team effort.
"We got it around pretty good and got it in," Dallas said.
Dallas and Smith edged out Bob Fouke from Broken Arrow, Okla., and Gerry Graham from Mesa, Ariz., by three strokes. Fouke and Graham shot a final round 4-under 68 and finished at 12-under 204 overall. Chris Maletis from Portland, Ore., and Terry Miller from Plano, Texas, finished in third place at 8-under 208.
The 2015 Trans-Miss Four-Ball Championship travels to The Honors Course in Chattanooga, Tenn. Known as one of the premier golf courses in the U.S., The Honors Course has a proud tradition supporting amateur golf. The private club has played host to USGA Men's and Women's Mid-Amateur Championships, U.S. Senior Women's Championships, the Curtis Cup Matches and NCAA Men's Division I Championships.
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