Winged Foot Team Wins Anderson Memorial
by Kevin Devaney, Jr., LoHud.com
MAMARONECK, NY (July 12, 2009)--Jeff Putman and Greg Rohlf took off their caps and hugged on the 15th green yesterday at Winged Foot's West Course. As they rubbed each other's head and laughed, they shared identical thoughts.
"Finally," Putman said. "We'd been knocking on the door before. We finally won it."
After close calls in each of the last four Anderson Memorial tournaments, the Winged Foot members had broken through. They won the championship in decisive fashion, beating Ken Weixel and Mike Kelley of New Albany Country Club (Ohio) 4 and 3.
Putman and Rohlf had advanced to the match-play round the last four years, highlighted by a semifinal finish in 2007. They're the first Winged Foot members to win the prestigious tournament since Andrew Svoboda and Jim Graham did it six years ago.
Few teams have won the event quite as convincingly as Putman and Rohlf. In the four match-play rounds, they led for all but four holes. If there's one sure-fire strategy in a match-play tournament - especially one at the fabled West Course - that might be it.
"Pars were at a premium this week," Rohlf said. "This is a U.S. Open course. You can't make birdies out here."
Putman and Rohlf reached the afternoon final by grinding out a 3-and-2 victory in the morning's semifinal against Keith Bratton and Brad Niemann of Victoria National in Indiana.
In the final, Rohlf's par was good enough to win the first hole before they lost the second. Putman drained a 15-footer to halve the third hole before they won the next three.
On the par-4 eighth, Putman hit an errant drive into the rough and his approach shot landed just short of the green on the left side. He then left his third shot 10 feet short of the hole while Weixel and Kelley each faced short par putts.
After Putman drained his for par, Weixel and Kelley both missed their putts to lose the hole.
"It was typical match-play stuff today," Rohlf said. "It looked like they were going to win a hole. They'd miss and then we'd make a long putt and win the hole.
"Jeff's putting has been off the charts. He was awesome on the front nine today. He was putting on a show."
The lead seemed almost insurmountable after Kelley missed another short putt to halve the ninth hole. When Putman and Rohlf won the 10th to go ahead by five, they knew they were closing in.
"We had made the turn in good position all weekend," Putman said. "We felt like if we could get control and be ahead, there aren't many birdies on this back nine. There's no harder thing to have to do than make pars on these holes.
The only time Putman and Rohlf faltered was on the par-3 13th when neither got up-and-down for par and they lost the hole. They halved the 14th before Weixel and Kelley ceded the match on the 15th green.
"This is one of the tournaments I've never won before and one ... I've really wanted to win," Rohlf said. "Especially now that I'm a member here now, it's something I really wanted. It feels awesome to win."