Q-School Next: Patriot Win a Confidence Booster for Eubank
It was a huge win for Tom Eubank.
The $7,500 check was sweet, but it was far from the most important thing about his victory in the seventh annual National Patriot Senior Invitational that concluded Monday at National Golf Club.
Eubank, playing his first season on the Sunbelt Tour, found a lot to be thankful for after a 6-foot, par-saving putt on the final hole gave him a one-stroke win over three others players.
"I'm just coming back from a 15-year layoff," the Canton, Ga., resident said, seemingly still a little bemused by the win. "I'll be 50 next week and I've already entered the Champions Tour Qualifying School."
It really hasn't been 15 years since Eubank won a golf tournament. He won the Hawaii Open in 2006 for the second time but was playing as an amateur. After a brief fling on the PGA Tour in 1990 and on the Hogan Tour from 1991-92, he started a business selling yardage books, tee signs and golf course photography.
But as he neared 50, the urge to give professional golf another whirl became too strong to resist. He did some research and found the Sunbelt Tour, operated by Don Barnes, and the decision to join paid off.
"I looked around at different tours and the Sunbelt was the longest running and had the best reputation," he said. "There are so many tours that you can't trust, but I chose the right one."
Eubank shot 72-68 in the first two rounds and held a two-shot lead over John Ross of Bramwell, W.Va. Jack Ferenz, a three-time winner this year and the Sunbelt's leading money winner, was three back and also in the final threesome.
Ferenz made a run, shooting a 4-under-par 32 on the front nine, and Eubank found himself three shots back after 12 holes.
"I didn't think I had a chance at that point," he said. "But you never give up in this game. You fight to the end. It turned around on 15 when I got up and down for a birdie and Jack made par. Then I birdied 16 from 10 feet, and when Jack made bogey on 17, it was dead even."
On the final hole, both players missed the green in regulation, but Eubank saved par from a bunker to win.
"It was right to the wire, right to the last putt," he said. "Winning here was a good test, because National is one of the toughest courses we play. I love courses where par is a good score."
Ferenz shared second place with Mitch Adams of Cary, a former club professional at Gates Four Golf and Country Club in Fayetteville, and Ross at 14-under-par 214.
Champions Tour player Walter Hall, of Bermuda Run, tied for eighth with 219, while Mark Brown, of Pinehurst, was at 231.
Adams, who won the Sunbelt Tour's Kelly's Classic event held at Little River Resort earlier this year, shot 69 in the final round but fell one shot short.
"I lost it in the second round on Sunday," Adams said. "There was a back pin on the ninth hole and I hit a 6-iron pin-high in the water on the left and made double bogey. Of course, I didn't help my cause any today when I was 6 feet off the green in two on the par-5 15th and made a par."
As usual, the big winner was The Patriot Foundation Charities, which raised well more than $100,000.
The Patriot Foundation is 501c(3) nonprofit headed by retired Naval Reserve Captain Chuck Deleot. Funds are donated to the children of 82nd Airborne Division paratroopers killed in combat, and children of serving, retired and former Army Special Operations soldiers.
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