19th Hole: California Team Wins McGladrey Crown
Practice and a new leader made all the difference for the Whispering Lakes Golf Course team that won the national McGladrey Team Championship at Pinehurst on Wednesday.
The team, from Ontario, Calif., used a five-birdie barrage on the back nine of the No. 4 Course to break out of a tie with defending champion Stonebridge Ranch Country Club of McKinney, Tex. The Whispering Lakes team, with the same three amateurs, had finished 29th last year.
"The difference this year is that we practiced, but practiced the right things," said Larry Metter of Valencia, Calif. "And, we had a great leader in Tim (Walsh), who kept us up, was fun to be with and who gave us the best putting advice anybody could have on these greens."
Walsh, the 51-year-old professional at Whispering Lakes, guided his trio of amateur partners with sage putting advice and a timely chipping lesson for one teammate prior to competition that yielded the biggest prize of all -- a national championship.
The Californians, with amateurs Metter, Jim Erdman and Bill Minnis, posted a sizzling 23-under-par 121 and an event-record 54-hole total of 65-under-par 367.
Tavistock Country Club of Hattonfield, N.J., the Philadelphia PGA Section Champion, finished seven strokes back at 374, after closing on difficult Pinehurst No. 2 with a 127, and recording just one birdie on the par-5 holes. Northern Ohio's Steubenville Country Club was another stroke back in third at 375, and Stonewall Orchard Golf Club of Grayslake, Ill., was fourth at 377.
Northern Texas' defending champion Stonebridge Ranch Country Club staggered from the start, posting a 9-under-par 135 and finished alone in fifth at 381.
"We ran out of gas and the old pro didn't play well for them," said Stonebridge Ranch PGA head professional Joe Menton. "We weren't seeing the line on the greens. We got off to a sloppy start and you can't play these courses like that."
Walsh, who earned a first-place check of $16,000 from the overall $200,000 purse, had played at Pinehurst over a decade ago. He said that experience stayed in his mind, and that he had not forgotten the "severity of the greens."
"Chipping and putting is at a premium here," said Walsh. "I felt I could help the team by giving good advice and they went out and played so well. I did feel more like a coach than someone who was contributing by my own game."
The 164-player field was represented by 41 PGA Section champions. Nearly 20,000 players nationally tried to earn a berth in the national championship.
The local representative in the event, Pinehurst No. 6, with professional Chad Gilligan and amateurs David Bowles, Patrick Martin and Darren Rogers, tied for 22nd at 409. They shot rounds of 134-143-132.
Information for this article was provided by Bob Denney, PGA of America Senior Writer.
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