THE WOODLANDS, Texas (May 13, 2010) -- Kevin Marsh, of Henderson, Nevada, won the Mid-Amateur Division of the Carlton Woods Invitational with a dramatic back nine comeback. Marsh, holding the 36-hole lead by one shot, started the final round poorly, with five bogeys in his first nine holes. Birdies on the par-5 4th and 8th holes left him with a disappointing 39, and a two shot deficit to Robbie McWilliams of Bossier City, Lousiana. Marsh fell another stroke behind after a bogey on the 10th hole that included a pitch played from within the water hazard. A chip-in birdie for Marsh and a bogey for McWilliams on the 11th hole created a two shot swing, and Marsh followed with 3 more birdies in the final eight holes. His final round 71 gave him a tournament record three round total of 216.
Mike Bell, of Indianapolis won the Senior Division in a two hole playoff. Bell also started slowly, with bogeys on his first two holes. He followed with steady pars and birdies on the 8th, 11th and 15th holes. Playing one group behind was Hunter Nelson, of Houston, TX. Thinking that Bell had birdied the 18th hole, Nelson went for the par-5 18th green in two, but came up short and in the water, leading to a bogey and a three round total of 6 over par, tied with Bell. The resulting playoff was held on the 18th hole. Nelson calmly stroked in a ten foot par putt to extend the playoff, but lost the next hole with a bogey to Bell’s par.
Marsh, the 2005 USGA Mid-Amateur Champion, described his front nine play as “awful”. He credited the start of his turnaround to a good break on the 10th when his ball skipped off the water and came to rest on a playable strip of ground inside the hazard. The pitch out and resulting bogey “could have been one stroke worse." At that stage his goal was “to hang in there and give myself a chance." Defending his 2009 Carlton Woods Invitational title was special. “Any time you’re on a trophy for two years in a row, it really stands out," said Marsh.
For Bell, “the shot of the tournament for me” came on the 11th hole, where he was denied relief from a difficult lie and then hit his utility club to 5 feet from the hole for a needed birdie. His next birdie came on the difficult 15th, the signature hole of the Jack Nicklaus Course. Bell is a late bloomer to golf. He played baseball as a kid, worked as a caddie and won an Evans Scholarship in Chicago. He worked hard on his game beginning at age 50, and achieved his secret goal of a USGA Senior Amateur title in 2006 at Victoria National in his home state of Indiana.
The low round of the day was a 70 shot by Mike Booker of The Woodlands TX.
- story courtesy Carlton Woods Invitational Tournament Committee.