FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (September 29, 2016) – The final day of the 36th Trans-Mississippi Four-Ball Championship was met by another cool morning, with periodic showers and drizzle consuming much of the forecast. With tournament officials having suspended play Wednesday evening due to darkness at 6:15 pm local time, competitors in the Senior and Super Senior Divisions returned to complete a short collection of holes on the front and back nines at Forest Highlands’ Canyon Course.
With play resumed at 7:30 am local time, competitors still on the golf course grinded through their remaining holes in an effort to avoid the 36-hole cut and compete in the third and final round.
The Super Senior Division cut included teams posting a two-day total of 149, seven-over par, for fourteen total teams. In the larger Senior Division, the eventual mid-morning cut included teams posting a two-day total of 147, five-over par, landing 17 teams in the final round. While a majority of the Senior and Super Senior fields would see a short-break ahead of their final round, the youthful Championship Field began final round play, having completed second round play the previous day. A later start to the morning proved beneficial for Fort Worth’s Blake Vinson and Beau Davis as they began their front side with a birdie-filled 29, en route to a 7-under par 64, the low score on the day.
Vinson and Davis credited their success in the final round – and throughout the championship – to complimentary play by both partners. In the final round, the partnership contributed evenly – nine holes a piece – to their four-ball score. “We got it going early,” Davis said, “and we managed to contribute equally throughout the round… We stumbled a bit on the back and didn’t think it would be enough.” Despite their reservations leaving the scoring area as clubhouse leaders, Vinson and Davis would quickly learn that their final round push was enough to take the Championship Division.
Tied heading into Thursday morning as final round co-leaders, Ben Blundell and Jordan Cook both from Oklahoma City, Okla. and Danny Licursi, Thousand Oaks, Calif., paired with Bowen Osborn of Burbank, Calif., both got off to slower than anticipated starts, with the groups posting one-over and one-under front nine scores, respectively. Consistent posting of pars and periodic bogeys along the back nine meant the 36-hole lead held by both teams would diminish, resulting in an eventual five shot margin of victory for Vinson and Davis.
Having completed second round play ahead of their Senior counterparts Thursday morning, the Super Senior Division would crown champions next. Carrying a one-shot lead into the final round, the California tandem of Gary Hardin and Greg Mokler capitalized on five birdies through their final 18, led largely by the steady play of Gary Hardin. Seeking to make up ground close behind were another team of Californians in Dave Sheff of Dana Point and Rich Tolly of Laguna Hills. While the latter pairing exchanged birdies in an effort to make up ground, both teams would go on to post final round scores of 68, 3-under par and finish one-two in their division.
Rounding out final round pairings were the Senior Division, led after two rounds by co-leaders Steve Van Herpe, Temecula, Calif. and Dan Pouliot, Burbank, Calif., paired against Lawrence Field, Tulsa, Okla. and Murphy Mitchell, Scottsdale, Ariz., who both sat at 11-under, 131. The stellar play that saw both teams beat par over the first two rounds was humbled by an afternoon of more consistent play with barrages of pars, along with intermittent and untimely bogeys.
In similar fashion to the storyline in the Super Senior Division, the younger Senior leaders would eventually only separate themselves by one-stroke to finish as champions and runners-up. Eventual champions Van Herpe and Pouliot would post a 1-under 70, edging runners-up Field and Mitchell by a single stroke. Despite fine play by several teams in the Senior Division, Arizona residents Jeff New and Phil Phinny posted the low Senior round of the day, a solid 3-under 68, allowing them to grab fourth place.
Despite difficult weather conditions, the Trans-Miss Golf Association and host Forest Highlands were able to contest each round of the championship as originally intended. A significant thank you goes out to the golf course agronomy staff at Forest Highlands’ Canyon Course, whose tireless efforts allowed the championship to be played in great conditions. Further, the Trans-Miss Golf Association extends its thanks to the membership and staff at Forest Highlands for their collective efforts in hosting the championship and being gracious hosts throughout.
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