Michael Mercier and John Kircher eventually got it done at Kiva Dunes
GULF SHORES, AL (March 28, 2018) - Michael Mercier (Juno Beach, FL) and John Kircher (Pittsford, NY) were cruising along at the Society of Seniors (SOS) Ed Tutwiler Memorial Four-Ball at Kiva Dunes Golf Club, en route to a tournament-low round and a comfortable win.
Mercier and Kirchner stood on the 17th tee seven under for the round and four shots up on their nearest competitors, the defending champions Steve Hudson (Birmingham, AL) and Lawrence Field (Palm Desert, CA).
Four shots in a two-man best-ball is usually an insurmountable lead with two holes to play, but strange things can and do happen, and it started on the 195-yard par-3 17th when neither player could do better than bogey.
Playing in the group ahead, Hudson and Field were making birdie on the 406-yard finishing hole at Kiva Dunes, cutting the lead to two shots. The 18th was playing into about a 15 mph wind with water right and trees left, and once again both Mercier and Kircher ran into trouble, leading to a team double bogey and a tie between the two teams at 6 under for the tournament.
Mercier and Kircher closed with a 4-under 68, while Hudson and Field shot 67. Douglas Hanzel (Savannah, GA) and Buzz Fly (Memphis, TN), playing with Mercier and Kircher in the final group, had a chance at the playoff but couldn't birdie 18 so they settled for solo third place at 5 under after a 68.
If there was shock at losing their lead, Mercier and Kircher didn't show it, winning the first playoff hole and taking the championship. It was reminiscent of what happened in Dixie Amateur three days ago, as Cole Hammer lost a five shot lead over the last eight holes but won on the first playoff hole.
In the Super Senior division, they story was similar and only a little less dramatic. Jerry Hudgins (Tyler, TX) and Michael Rice (Houston, TX) had a three-shot lead to start the round. But the team of Mark Miller (Brentwood, CA) and Gary Vanier (Pleasant Hill, CA) made a run, going 4 under through their first 6 holes and getting within a shot. When Hudgins and Rice double-bogeyed their ninth hole (which was the same #18 that Mercier and Kircher would double later on--Hudgins/Rice started on the 10th hole), the teams were tied.
Hudgins and Rice recovered to take the lead on the second nine, but a final-hole birdie by Miller and Vanier forced a playoff. On the second playoff hole, Hudgins and Rice prevailed.
For Rice, it was his third Tutwiler win, having won the Senior division in 2001 and 2003 with different partners.
In the Grand Master division, there was no drama at all, which was just fine with the winners Claud Johnston (Canton, MI) and Dick Clemens (Tampa, FL). Johnston and Clemens closed with an even-par 72 and an eight-shot win over Nick Kirkland (Snellville, GA) and Charles Busbee (Stockbridge, GA).
ROUND TWO RECAP
Michael Mercier (Juno Beach, FL) and John Kircher (Pittsford, NY) shot a 2-under 70 to take a one-shot lead going into the final round of the Society of Seniors (SOS) Ed Tutwiler Memorial Four-Ball at Kiva Dunes Golf Club.
For the second straight day, low scores were hard to come by at Kiva Dunes, with only two subpar scores to go along with the one under-par round on Monday.
Steve Hudson (Birmingham, AL) and Lawrence Field (Palm Desert, CA), who shot a 1-under 71 in round one to take the lead, added an even-par 72 to sit one shot behind Mercier and Kircher. Hudson-Field birdied three in a row early to get to 4 under, but then made four bogeys in five holes to lose their lead.
They are tied with the team of Doug Hanzel (Savannah, GA) and Buzz Fly (Memphis, TN), who shot the tied low round of the day, a 2-under 70, to get to 1 under for the tournament.
Kircher and Mercier have had four-ball success before, having won the New York State FOur-Ball. Kircher, who is the Tournament Director for the Monroe Invitational, also won the John R. Williams Senior Four-Ball last September with partner Mike Jaros.
In the Super Senior Division, the Texas team of Jerry Hudgins and Mike Rice shot their second straight under-par round to take a three-shot lead over two teams: the Florida-based team of John Osborne and Bill Engel, and the California team of Mark Miller and Gary Vanier.
In the Grand Master Division, Claud Johnston (Canton, MI) and Dick Clemens (Tampa, FL) have taken a five shot lead over the Georgia team of Nick Kirkland and Charles Busbee.
ROUND ONE RECAP
Just one team broke par on Monday in the Senior Division at the Society of Seniors Ed Tutwiler Memorial Four-Ball and it was the team of Steve Hudson and Lawrence Field.
The duo mustered a 1-under 71 in the first round at Kiva Dunes Golf Club and they will carry a one shot lead into the second round over the even-par tandem of Michael Mercier and John Kircher.
Hudson, a two-time winner in AmateurGolf.com Senior Events a year ago, and Field with two top-10 finishes in such events this year, created their slim separation from the field with a six birdie, five bogey round. Hudson and Field had were 3-under for much of the round but bogeyed the closing two holes.
Doug Hanzel and Buzz Fly are third at 1-over, Leon Roday and Dan Levinson are 2-over in fourth while three teams are 3-over sharing fifth.
In the Super Senior Division the lead belongs to the 2-over team of Jerry Hudgins and Michael Rice with Doug Fraser and John O'Malley; Danna Sutton and Billy Hatton a shot behind in second.
The Grand Master Division is being paced by Nick Kirkland and Charles Busbee at 3-over, just one clear of second place Claud Johnston and Dick Clemens