Stories by Tommy Hicks for the Mobile Press-Register
Zach Sucher Wins Labor Day Invitational
Zack Sucher wrote the perfect ending to his amateur career Monday in winning the 76th annual Labor Day Invitational golf tournament at the Country Club of Mobile.
The two-time All-America golfer for UAB said he intends to sign a contract with an agent today, officially entering the ranks of professional golf. He will attempt to qualify for some E Tour and Nationwide events before participating in PGA Tour qualifying school in November.
On Monday, he defeated Robert Nelson 3 and 2 in the title match of the match play event.
"I've been waiting a long time to win the Labor Day," Sucher said. "I came close to doing it the last four years in a row, but just couldn't do it. I'm glad I got the chance to come back and do this."
Sucher said he delayed his pro career for one last chance to win the tournament. He earned a No. 9 seeding in Friday's qualifying round, then had to defeat Tommy Clement in his first match. He won each of his final three matches by a 3 and 2 score.
"I grew up out here," said Sucher, who was a candidate for the U.S. Walker Cup team, "so it's a great feeling to win this."
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Labor Day Invitational Down to Final 4
MOBILE, AL (September 7, 2009)--If creating a competitive environment was at the heart of the change in format for this year's Labor Day Invitational golf tournament, then Country Club of Mobile officials should be pleased after Sunday's quarterfinals play in the event's Championship Flight A Division.
Returning to a match play format instead of the stroke-play events of recent years, the A Division offered four good matches Sunday. Zack Sucher had the easiest route to today's semifinals with a 3 and 2 win over Tommy Clement. Two of the three remaining matches required an extra hole to determine a winner -- No. 2 seed Robert Nelson edging Earl Bidez and Matt Richie topping No. 3 seed Namsuv Padung. Gene Martindale won the 18th hole to defeat Kenny Nichols.
That sets up today's semifinals of Sucher vs. Martindale and Nelson vs. Richie. The matches will start at 7:30 a.m. The two winners will then play for the Labor Day Invitational title in an 18-hole match this afternoon.
The Nelson-Bidez match was the best of the day, with Nelson spending most of the day chasing Bidez and catching him on the first extra hole of play. Three separate times during regulation play, Nelson faced a 2-down situation and each time he fought back to square the match. Th e last of those situations came late.
Bidez had a 2-up lead after 14 holes, but Nelson won 15 and 16 to tie the match. Bidez took a 1-up lead by winning the 17th hole, but Nelson sank a 15-foot putt on 18 to win the hole and send the players back to the first tee, winning the extra hole with a par.
"I never, ever could get up on him," Nelson said of Bidez. "He played great, and he kept the heat on me all day. ... Wow, what a fight. It was a great match. It took 19 holes, but I lived to play another day."
Sucher, the former UAB standout, said he didn't play as well Sunday as he did Saturday but was glad he played well enough to advance.
"I scored pretty good today, but I didn't really play as well as I'd have liked," he said. "I was one down through two (holes), but managed to go two up through six. From there, I made a lot of pars, and I just played steady."
At the turn, Sucher held a 2-up lead and after the 16th hole he had secured his spot in the semifinals.
"I putted great (Saturday), but not as well (Sunday)," he said. "I'm going to work on my putting and hopefully that will come back (today)."
Sucher said he likes the switch to match play for the event.
"It's more fun," he said. "I'm having a good time. It's a great course for it because there are some holes where you can play a lot of aggressive shots."
Stroke Play Qualifying
MOBILE, AL (September 5, 2009)--Major Forbess took the No. 1 seed in the A Division with a 6-under 66 Friday in qualifying for the Labor Day Invitational at the Country Club of Mobile.
Robert Nelson earned the No. 2 seeding with a 67, and Mamsaub Pabung's 68 was good for the No. 3 seed.
The tournament, in a format change from recent years, will switch to match play today and for the remainder of the tournament, which concludes Monday.
Eight matches are scheduled today in the A and B Divisions of the championship flight, including a match pitting Zach Sucher, a recent UAB graduate who twice earned All-America honors for the Blazers, against Forrest Crabtree.
The seven remaining flights will feature eight two-man teams, with four matches taking place today in each of those flights.
Today and Sunday the field for each of the flights will be cut in half, leading to championship matches in each of the flights Monday.
A pair of shotgun starts at 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. will be used today and Sunday.
Change in Tournament Format
MOBILE, AL (September 5, 2009)--The 76th annual Labor Day Invitational golf tournament at the Country Club of Mobile is returning to its roots. The tournament, which in recent years featured entire teams of many college programs from across the Southeast, will feature a field with more of a local flavor this year.
"In recent years, the tournament had become less about our members," club pro Jon Ziemet said. "After last year's 75th tournament, we wanted to do something that would bring more of our members back (as participants)."
With that goal in mind, the Labor Day Invitational is switching to a match play format, the same format used in the earlier days of the tournament. Each flight will employ match play competition, with play in all but the Championship flights featuring two-man teams.
"We'll have a much different field than what it has been the last few years," Ziemet said. "Colleges were using the Labor Day (tournament) as a qualifying tournament for their first tournaments of the (fall) season. Going to match play doesn't suit that need for them. Plus, Labor Day is a little later this year and some of the schools have already played a tournament.
"The membership has responded well to the change. I'm glad they're excited about the change and they're getting involved. The turnout has been very successful and more of our members are playing this year, as well as a lot of players from the area. This year and in the future we'd like to see the tournament become more like the (Mobile Sports Hall of Fame member) Johnny Brown heyday, when local golfers filled the tournament.
"We have some good golfers involved this year. We think it's going to be a very competitive tournament."
Among the former champions of the event are Stewart Cink (1994), Sam Farlow (1987), Will Blackmon (1993), Jimmy Green Jr. (1989), Joey Dzwonkowski (1986), Scott Smith (1985) and Richard Jeffers (1977, 1995). Cole Moreland defeated Steven Glover in a playoff to win last year's title.
Among the players scheduled to participate this week are former UAB standout and All-America pick Zack Sucher, who finished third in the stroke-play event last year. Also in the field are Robert Nelson, Forrest Crabtree, Tommy Druhan, Garth Boyd, Tommy Clement, Doug McCloud, Hunter Bronson and Jeffers.