Philly Tourn. of Champions: Ridgway wins in playoff

CAPE MAY CT. HOUSE, N.J. (Oct. 3, 2011) — Home-club hopeful James Ridgway dispatched Matthew Teesdale of Commonwealth National GC in a sudden-death playoff to take the 54th Tournament of Champions at a cool Wildwood G&CC (par 71, 6,358 yards) Monday. The Cape May, N.J. resident parred the first playoff hole (No. 1, par 4, 410 yards) while Teesdale three-putted for bogey. Both players, as well as Robert Bechtold of Loch Nairn GC), carded 1-over-par 72s in regulation. Bechtold was unavailable for the playoff.

“It feels great,” Ridgway, 23, said. “I had an opportunity to look at some of the other names on the trophy. From guys like Jay Sigel to awesome players like Tom Gramigna and Chris Lange, just to name a few, it’s nice to have your name on a trophy with players of that caliber. I was lucky enough to have it at my home club and to play pretty good. It’s nice to win something that has such a rich history.”

In the playoff, Teesdale, 20, of Maple Glen, Pa., pushed his drive into the right rough. With a challenging sidehill lie, he blasted his approach 165 yards to 45 feet below the hole. Ridgway found the fairway off the tee and struck a 9-iron 142 yards to 20 feet. He ran his birdie effort to a foot while Teesdale missed a nine-footer to save par on the high side.

Perhaps familiarity eased Ridgway’s nerves entering the playoff. It certainly played a factor in regulation.

"Home-course advantage felt good. It definitely helped on the greens especially,” Ridgway said. “I had it going early but let a few slide coming in, which was definitely a disappointment. I thought I could’ve gone pretty low.”

Double bogeys on a pair of par threes dampened Ridgway’s red-figure aspirations. On No. 10 (200 yards), he missed the green with a 4-iron. Ridgway only advanced his golf ball three feet on the ensuing chip. He reached the green on his third stroke and lipped out a six-footer to save bogey. On No. 16 (126 yards), Ridgway again missed the green, this time with a gap wedge. He lofted a chip to 12 feet and three-putted.

The miscues mangled an otherwise outstanding effort. Ridgway fired four birdies on his outward tour. He pulverized a 5-iron 180 yards to 20 feet on No. 2 (par 5, 463 yards) and cozyied his eagle try to inches. With 145 yards into the No. 4 (par 4, 375 yards) flagstick, Ridgway stopped a smooth 8-iron at 10 feet. He hit a wedge 130 yards to 12 feet. He smashed a 6-iron 170 yards to 30 feet on No. 9 (par 4, 395 yards) and converted the right-to-left breaker.

“I just read it right and ended up making it,” Ridgway said. “It was a little bit of a bomb.”

Following his double bogey on No. 10, Ridgway found redemption by posting back-to-back birdies on Nos. 12 (par 5, 502 yards) and 13 (par 4, 407 yards). He used course knowledge wisely on the first, flighting his drive over the left-side trees and onto the No. 11 fairway. With a somewhat direct angle into the dogleg left, Ridgway hit an 8-iron 160 yards downwind to 20 feet and watched his eagle effort burn the left edge. He stuffed a full 5-iron 170 yards to a foot on the 13th hole and swept in the birdie putt.

“It felt like I was off to the races,” he said. “It didn’t work out that way.”

Ridgway graduated from Saint Joseph’s University this past May with a major in pharmaceutical marketing. He played for the Hawks golf team, once carding two aces in a day during a 2007 tournament at Springdale CC.

Like Ridgway, two back nine holes spoiled Teesdale’s scorecard. He registered consecutive bogeys on Nos. 16 (par 3, 126 yards) and 17 (par 4, 406 yards) thanks to a balky putter. He had moved to 1 under after an eagle on the 12th hole, where Teesdale powered a 6-iron 185 yards to seven feet. He also found three red figures on the front nine. Teesdale guided a wedge 20 yards to a foot on No. 2 (par 5, 46 yards). He smacked a sand wedge 95 yards to six feet on No. 6 (par 4, 362 yards); and one 87 yards to 25 feet on No. 7 (par 4, 368 yards). Teesdale dropped a right-to-left breaker in the heart.

“I just tried to keep it in play,” he said. “My misses were left today, so on the holes where I had trouble left, I just pulled out a 4-iron. It really wasn’t that long of a course if you kept it down the middle.”

Edward Enoch of Old York Road CC outlasted William Lawler of Fox Hill CC in a sudden-death playoff to win the Senior Division (par 71, 5,996 yards). Both players carded respective 1-over-par 72s in regulation.

“It’s nice to win a golf tournament,” a humbled Enoch said. “I haven’t won many golf tournaments in my life. To win one in this fashion is pretty exciting.”

What unfolded in the playoff was exciting or better yet, unbelievable. Both players halved the first hole with pars. Enoch’s drive on No. 2 (par 5, 455 yards) took shelter underneath a pine tree. With a crouch stance, he swatted at his golf ball, advancing it 30 yards. Enoch’s third shot caught the right green side bunker. Lawler, meanwhile, pitched it to two feet and had a seemingly gimmey for birdie. Enoch, 57, of Lansdale, Pa., showed his mettle by blasting out to four feet and saving par. Lawler, the 2006 Senior Player of the Year, tried to ram his birdie putt, but it looped around the jar.

Enoch stayed in survival mode on No. 3 (par 3, 130 yards). As Lawler executed a routine par, Enoch flubbed a chip from the rear of the green, and then proceeded to chip-in for a matching 3. He seized victory on the next hole (par 4, 355 yards). Lawler’s second shot clipped a branch, which allowed Enoch to keep a one-stroke edge and to card a safe bogey.

Enoch carded three birdies — all 10-footers — against four bogeys in regulation. He hit a lob wedge 25 yards on No. 2 (par 5, 455 yards); a pitching wedge 130 yards on No. 7 (par 4, 340 yards) and an 8-iron 150 yards on No. 8 (par 4, 375 yards). Troubling three-putts on Nos. 1 (par 4, 392 yards) and 15 (par 5, 498 yards) created bogeys. Enoch stood at even entering the 18th hole (par 4, 365 yards), but couldn’t hold it intact after a poor drive forced a punch-out.

Tournament golf isn’t commonplace for Enoch. He may think twice now with a new title on his belt.

“My job keeps me busy, and I’m really not that good of an amateur golfer,” Enoch, a sales representative, said. “I was just fortunate to win the Senior Championship at Old York Road.”

In regulation, Lawler, 64, of West Wyoming, Pa., first inked red following back-to-back birdies on Nos. 11 (par 4, 360 yards) and 12 (par 5, 470 yards). He drilled a 7-iron 147 yards to 15 feet on the first. Lawler cleared the No. 12 water hazard with a 180-yard hybrid shot and executed an up-and-down birdie. He veered his tee shot out-of-bounds on No. 13 (par 4, 387 yards), which led to a double bogey.

Lawler won the 2003 edition at Cedarbrook CC, which earned him an annual exemption.

“This is a wonderful event. I look forward to it every year,” Lawler said.

ABOUT THE Philadelphia TOC

Format: Eighteen hole individual gross stoke play.

Eligibility: Current GAP Member Club amateur champions, senior champions, super-senior club champions and previous winners of the event. Senior Champions must be 50 years of age or older, Super Senior Champions must be 65 years of age or older.

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