By Jake Petersen, Lynchburg News Advance
LYNCHBURG, VA (May 2, 2010)--Finally.
Five-time Fox Puss runner-up Steve Liebler captured his first Fox Puss Invitational championship Sunday, shooting a final round 69 in windy conditions to outpace the field by seven shots.
“I pointed at this as one of the things that I’ve always wanted to win in my amateur career,” Liebler said. “I can’t tell you how I feel on the inside. It’s just awesome.”
Entering the day with a two-shot lead over Scott Shingler, Liebler got out to a great start, two-putting for birdie on the first hole. Shingler matched his birdie with one of his own, and birdies on the par-5 No. 3 and the par-4 No. 6 pulled Shingler and Liebler even with each other after six holes.
No. 7 is where Shingler ran into some trouble.
He flew the green on his second shot, and his attempted flop shot sailed past the pin and off the green. His chip from there came up short, and two putts later, he found himself three shots down after Liebler sunk a long downhill birdie putt.
“You can’t be long there (on 7),” Shingler said. “I kinda felt I had to put an aggressive swing on there to get through that lie. The grain was kind of growing into the ball, and I was afraid the grass would grab it and stop my club and hit it fat. I just didn’t execute the shot.”
The three-shot swing and another birdie by Liebler at the ensuing par-4 eighth hole put Shingler down by 4, but he gained a shot back after Liebler three-putted the ninth hole, making the turn just three back.
Liebler hit the green in two on the par-5 10th, smashing a driver from the fairway and two-putting for birdie, his fourth of the day. Shingler’s third shot, another attempted flop shot, landed in the greenside bunker and after he failed to get up and down, another two-shot swing was the result.
“I just couldn’t make anything happen,” Shingler said. “I felt pretty good with the game plan, I just didn’t get it done. This being my first time playing here, I learned a lot.”
After parring Nos.12 and 13, Liebler made the shot of the day at the 14th, sinking his shot from the fairway 80 yards out for an eagle to get to 3-under. His 52-degree wedge to the uphill green took one hop and bounced into the cup.
“Golf is a game of luck and one of the things I’ve always learned is don’t ever apologize for a good break,” Liebler said. “I hit a good shot and it went in. Today was my day.”
His day it was. A birdie on No. 16 and up-and-down for par on No. 18 gave the 51-year-old the long-awaited win.
“When I walked off 18, I was almost relieved. I’ve had it go the other way plenty of times,” Liebler said. “Now it’s just an unbelievable amount of joy and celebration.”
As dramatic as the men’s championship flight was, the senior championship proved to be even more dramatic as Boonsboro member Bert Allen dropped a 40-foot eagle putt on the first playoff hole (No. 1) to win his first Fox Puss championship as well.
After a day of battling with playing partner Jimmy Angel (Angel shot 71, Allen shot 72), the two headed for the first tee box for the playoff. Following a good drive on the 471-yard par-5, Allen hit “a little seven iron” from the fairway onto the green that ended up 40 feet past the hole. Angel’s shot wasn’t much better, coming to rest almost 50 feet away above the hole.
Facing a difficult downhill two-putt, Angel nestled his first putt near the hole for a tap-in birdie, putting the pressure on Allen to two-putt from almost the same position.
Allen’s putt, however, found nothing but the bottom of the cup.
“I was very fortunate to do that,” Allen said. “It’s a real shame that somebody had to lose today because we both played well. He played his heart out.”
NOTES: Lynchburg’s Hunter Russell finished in second place after a final round 72 … Five-time champion Keith Decker overcame a 78 on Saturday to shoot a 4-under 68 Sunday, finishing third … Shingler, Amherst’s Ryan Stinnett, Jason Copeland and Nick Biesecker finished in a four-way tie for fourth … Virginia Tech-bound Bryce Chalkley recorded three straight birdies on Nos. 14, 15 and 16 to shoot a 73 and finish in eighth place.
View results for Fox Puss Invitational Golf Tournament