PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. — Partners Casey Boyns and Terry Foreman were stunned. So too was the team of brothers Jim and Douglas Williams, and everyone else who saw it for that matter.
Staring directly at what appeared to be an inevitable sudden-death playoff, Boyns and Foreman instead escaped with a win at the annual NCGA Senior Four-Ball Championship on Friday when Jim Williams missed a putt from less than a foot for birdie on the 18th hole at par-71 Poppy Hills Golf Course.
Doug Williams also had a 7-foot birdie putt on the 18th to tie Boyns and Foreman in regulation, but his putt stopped short of the cup.
Golf is known to have its ups and downs, but in this case it was simply cruel.
“We played well Thursday and hung around today. We didn’t deserve it,” Boyns said. “I feel bad for Jim.”
Boyns has been there before himself. In 2013, the longtime Pebble Beach appeared to have his first Senior Championship title locked up. But that was before a disastrous quintuple-bogey 10 on the par-4 14th at Spyglass Hill. He’d go on to lose in a sudden-death playoff to Gary Vanier.
“I didn’t even look. I just heard the reaction,” said Foreman of Williams’ miss. “I was shocked. I figured we’d be going to a playoff.”
Through the 16th hole, all signs pointed to a Boyns and Foreman victory, as the two forged a two-shot lead over the Williamses and a three-shot lead over their next nearest competitors, the tandem of Jim Knoll and Gary Vanier.
But then the craziness started. Playing in a group ahead, Knoll and Vanier got to a total of 8-under when Vanier sank a 10-foot putt for eagle on the 18th.
Back on the par-3 17th meanwhile, the Williamses, who had been 1-over up to that point, got back to even par and within one of Boyns and Foreman with a birdie.
With Knoll and Vanier already in the clubhouse at 8-under after a day-low 67, it all came down to Boyns and Foreman and the Williamses at 18.
Boyns reached the greenside bunker in two but had to settle for par. Foreman reached the fringe off the green and chipped to within 13 feet of the flagstick but also had to settle for a two-putt par, giving the two a 70 and total of 9-under 204.
On the Williams’ side, after laying up Douglas knocked his third shot to within 7 feet of the cup. Jim, meanwhile, had reached the green in two, leaving himself a 25-footer for eagle and the outright win. After barely missing his eagle try, Jim looked set to tap in for birdie to force extra holes. But he’d miss, with Douglas missing minutes later for a 71, leaving them tied with Knoll and Vanier for second at 205.
“We just couldn’t make anything,” Douglas said afterwards. “I’d been playing well coming in and so too had Jim, so we liked our chances.”
Just a few weeks ago, Jim Williams, a former USGA Executive Committee member, competed in the inaugural U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship at the Olympic Club with his son, Scott. They’d miss the cut for match play by a stroke.
For Friday’s final round, the Williamses had their mother, Janie, acting as their caddie.
“Whatever we did today I know it was good with her,” Douglas said. “It was nice to play with my brother. We were looking good on 18, but that’s golf.”
For Boyns it’s his second NCGA Senior Four-Ball title (he won in 2012 playing with Mark Miller) and 19th overall NCGA title. Foreman, retired from law enforcement, picked up his first NCGA win since the 2012 NCGA Senior Amateur Match Play Championship. He too has had his heartbreak moments, finishing runner-up in each of the last two Senior Match Play events.
“It was fatiguing out there. I had to dig deep the last few holes,” Foreman said. “But it’s nice to win, That’s what you strive for, to win the NCGA events.”
It was the first time that Boyns, a California Golf Hall of Famer, and Foreman had teamed up. They were supposed to play together in the championship a few years ago, but their plans fell through.
“It was hard today. Terry made the birdies and I made the pars,” Boyns said. “It was a pleasure playing with Casey,” Foreman said. “Today he was either on and I was off or vice versa.”
Boyns and Foreman and Knoll and Vanier were the only teams to break par. Poppy Hills played to a stroke average of 78.11 for the final round of the Senior championship.
Defending champions Mike Staskus and Frank Pieper took fourth at 209 after a final round 71.
The inaugural NCGA Super Senior Four-Ball Championship also came down to the 18th.
Former U.S. Senior Amateur champ Kemp Richardson reached the green in two from 215 yards out using a 5-wood and two-putted for birdie, giving he and partner James Myers a one-stroke victory over runner-ups Dennis Younglove and Kent Powell.
Richardson and Myers had a final round 72 to finish at 3-under 210. Younglove and Powell had a 71.
“We stumbled in. After the front-nine, we really stumbled in,” Richardson said. “We didn’t have any big blow up holes,” added Myers. “We weren’t very steady today but overall we were mostly steady.”
Greg O’Malley, who competed in the Senior championship, aced the 17th using an 8-iron. It was the second ace on the hole in two days (Earl Stewart aced it Thursday).
View results for Northern California (NCGA) Senior Four-Ball Championship