Hargraves Wins Senior Cotton States in Playoff
Story by Keith Prince, The News Star
CHOUDRANT, LA (May 22, 2010)--Starting the final round of the 17th annual Jim Rivers Senior Invitational six shots behind the leader Saturday, Arkansas golfer Bev Hargraves got red hot on the back nine to force a playoff with Texas' Jerry Hudgins and then won the coveted title on the first sudden death hole.
With manicured Squire Creek Country Club as the backdrop on a sun-splashed day, Hargraves began the shotgun-start at hole No. 3 and promptly three-putted.
He was two-over-par when he made a grip change at No. 10.
"I switched my putting grip to an old style and immediately birdied No. 10 and No. 11 to get back to even par for the day," said Hargraves, a Helena, Ark., product who played college golf at the University of Arkansas where he graduated in 1973.
Hargraves, who made got his first national exposure two years ago at age 56 when he won the big Dogwood Invitational in Atlanta, Ga., against a big-time field, went on to birdie 16 and 18 coming down the stretch.
The end result was a back nine 32, giving him a 2-under-par 70, the day's only sub-par round.
That total tied Hudgins, a smooth-hitter from Houston, at 146 for the two days, sending the two golfers back out to No. 1 for a playoff.
Both men dissected the fairway with their playoff drive, leaving only a wedge to the green.
"I was in-between clubs and went with the longer club but hit it thin," said Hudgins, who ended up at the back of the green facing a delicate 35-footer.
Hargraves, meanwhile, feathered a wedge to 10-feet and watched as Hudgins came up 12-feet short on his first putt and then missed the second putt for a bogey.
Needing only a two-putt, Hargraves cozied his first putt to within inches and tapped in for the victory.
This was Hargraves' first appearance at the Rivers event and he came after falling in love with the course at last summer's Peach Fest Tournament at Squire Creek.
"My buddies are mad at me for missing our big Arkansas-Mississippi Shootout this weekend, but I committed here because I wanted to play against an outstanding field on a great course," said Hargraves, an insurance executive in his spare time.
Monroe's Doug Farr also ended up in the fight for first, shooting a two-over-par 74 Saturday to finish one shot back at 147.
After birding No. 17, Farr gave himself two more birdie opportunities inside 10-feet on his final two holes but just missed both.
"I hit good putts on both holes, but good putts don't always go in. I am actually surprised that I had a chance at the end.
"Overall, I still have some issues with my short game, but I hung in and did some good things during the two days," remarked Farr.
Two other golfers with Monroe ties, Robert Shelton of Lafayette and Van Stewart of Flint, Texas, had early opportunities but eventually fell away.
Shelton, the 2007 champ and last year's runner-up, finished three shots back at (73-76) 149 and Stewart, runner-up in 2003, was another shot back (71-79) at 150.
First day leader Alan Fugate of Louisville, Ky., who shot 70 Friday to share low round of the tournament with Hargraves, got off to a horrendous start on the front nine Saturday and managed only 78 to finish tied for fourth at 148 with Atlanta, Ga., golfer Donnie Crump (73-75--148), who led by two shots with five holes left before faltering.
Bob Hullender, the crusty 74-year-old retired general from San Antonio, won his third super senior division title with 73-77-150.
He nosed out Tyler, Texas, golfer Andy Wall by a shot after Wall shot 75-78--151.
Wall said, "We were tied going into our last hole (No. 9) but I got in trouble and made bogey while he was making par. You can't give anything a way to the General. He's a great competitor."