Ben Hayes and Taylor Wood capture 2016 National Invitational at Whisper Rock
(Whisper Rock Golf Club Photo)
Information provided by the National Invitational Committee
SCOTTSDALE, AZ (May 16, 2016) - Ben Hayes (Whisper Rock GC) & Taylor Wood (Big Canyon CC) began the final round with a one-shot lead, and after some late round heroics, found themselves two clear of the field and National Invitational champions. Playing in the final group with Kris Marshall (CC at DC Ranch) & Andrew Price (Conway Farms GC), Hayes & Wood collected three birdies on the front nine at Whispering Rock Golf Club to reach 13-under and extend their lead to three-strokes.
A feeling of de ja vu took over the property, as Mike Flood (Bel Air CC) & Ken Tanigawa (Whisper Rock GC), were once again paired with Mark Mulder (Whisper Rock GC) and started the final round on No. 15, just as they had in 2015, began to make a charge. Flood & Tanigawa made a birdie on their first hole and then four more on the front nine to draw within two shots. Another birdie on 11 and a closing birdie on No. 14 resulted in the defending champions posting a round of 65 that moved them into a first place tie.
Hayes & Wood made steady pars on No.'s 15 & 16, but still needed to find a birdie to break away. The telling shot of the tournament came at No. 17, when Taylor Wood hit his tee shot to two and a half feet. The ensuing birdie took them a shot clear and a closing birdie on the par-5 18th was icing on the cake.
This was the second victory in three years for Hayes & Wood. This was also Hayes' third title at the National Invitational after he partnered with Taylor Haden in 2008.
The senior division was very tightly contested, but just like the mid-amateur division, the overnight leaders, and past champions, Jerry Hudgins (Hollytree CC) & Mike Rice (Champions Golf Club), were able to stave off the field and collect their second National Invitational title.
Beginning the day one-shot clear, Hudgins & Rice jumped out of the gate with birdies on the first two holes to extend their lead. Another birdie at No. 8 allowed the pair to turn in 3-under for the day and 11-under for the tournament.
Not to be outdone, Bill Jackson (Whisper Rock GC) & George Zahringer (Deepdale GC), who were paired with Hudgins & Rice, birdied No.'s 8 & 9 to also turn in 3-under still just one shot back with nine holes remaining. Chip Lutz (Ledge Rock GC) & David Nelson (Montreux G & CC) kept along with the pace, and when Hudgins & Rice made a bogey at No. 12, the three teams were tied at 10-under.
Hudgins & Rice drew one stroke clear with a birdie at 14, and Tom Musselman (Whisper Rock GC) & Jim Volpenhein (Traditions GC) joined the party at 10-under when they birdied the 15th. Hudgins & Rice held onto their one stroke lead thanks to a clutch 12-foot par save by Mike Rice on the 16th.
Volpenhein gave his team a chance when he hit his second shot on the par-5 closing hole to 25-feet but his eagle attempt came up empty and they remained tied for the lead at 11-under.
Needing a birdie on the last hole for victory, Jerry Hudgins hit two solid shots reaching the green in two. However, his eagle attempt rolled past the hole and he was left with a six-foot birdie putt that began to look a lot longer when George Zahringer holed a 15-foot birdie putt to tie Jackson & Zahringer for the lead.
So with the title on the line, Hudgins held his nerve and holed the putt for a third consecutive round of 68 and a one-stroke victory.
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ABOUT THE The National at Whisper Rock
A two man best-ball invitational event with
Am and Senior Divisions. Played at both lower
upper courses at the very highly acclaimed
Whisper Rock Golf Club, which boasts many
players among its membership, including both
Mickelson AND his caddie Jim "Bones" Mackay.
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