ST. SIMONS ISLAND, GA (March 8, 2017) -- It took three extra holes and an afternoon filled with drama but when the dust settled Walter Todd had won the Jones Cup Senior Invitational and the biggest individual event of his career.
"This is probably about as good as it gets for me. Individually I've won the South Carolina Mid-Amateur and Carolina Mid-Amateur, but in my own world this is a big deal," an exited Todd said.
On a day that saw the winds gust to 15-20 mph at the Seaside Course of the Sea Island Golf Club, Todd spent much of the day, "within an arms reach" of 36-hole leader Doug Hanzel.
However, that all changed on the 17th hole.
Down by two-strokes with two holes remaining, Todd hit a solid 5-iron into the 170 yard par-3 penultimate hole but due to a slight pull he was left with a 60-70 foot putt for birdie.
Facing a nearly impossible putt with 10 feet of break Todd changed the course of the afternoon with one swing of the putter. "Sometimes I think things are destined to happen," Todd said. "The ball just held on the rim and then fell in. I could stand there a long time before I make it again."
The improbable birdie moved Todd to 1-under for the tournament and when Hanzel bogeyed the hole the two were tied with one to play.
"I went and got [the ball] out of the hole and thought about going to the 18th," Todd said of his reaction to the monster putt. "I was in a pretty calm frame of mind and I knew he [Doug Hanzel] wasn't going to back down."
After the two parred the 18th hole they both finished regulation at 1-under, thus sending play to extra holes. Returning to No. 18, the duo parred the hole twice, meaning that the playoff was now headed to the 17th hole, a hole that had been very friendly to Todd all week.
Including the birdie just moments earlier, Todd had birdied the hole all three days but on his final visit to the hole for the week all he would need was a par to lift the trophy.
"[Doug] is a great player and it was a big deal for me to be able to win. He is a great player," Todd stated.
Todd, who shot rounds of 69-71-69 this week, began the final round three shots off the pace and he had his ups and downs throughout the day. He bogeyed the 2nd before bouncing back with 7th and 8th hole birdies. After two more bogeys on the 13th and 14th holes, Todd rebounded once more with a 15th hole birdie and then that oh so improbable 17th hole birdie.
"I just think to be part of the history of Sea Island and just how good the field was this year with a lot of guys that I've looked up to and respected for a long time. To come away with a win, I couldn't be much happier and it just happened to be my week," Todd said.
Hanzel held the lead after each of the first two rounds but was never able to get anything going on Wednesday. The 2014 Jones Cup Senior Invitational winner did roll in four birdies but he also bogeyed four-times and double-bogeyed once. For the second time in three years Hanzel finished as the runner-up while sandwiched in between was a 2016 tied for third showing.
In third place came Gene Elliot and Herb Fisher at 3-over while Grady Brame, Buzz Fly and Bob Royak shared fifth at 4-over.
SUPER SENIOR DIVISION
In the Super Senior Division Don Marsh rallied and then pulled away to win by five shots over Frank Costanzo.
Marsh, 2-over, put together rounds of 69-72-71 this week.
36-hole leader George Washburn ended up in third place while Taylor Adams and John Armstrong shared fourth.