2013: Assemblage At Lakeshore Golf And Country!
The eloquence and the efflorescence of the Lakeshore golf course, revealed itself crystal clear Saturday, October 5th. Some 60 participants challenged the most difficult course in America on a perfect weathered summery day with the many colored rose bushes.
As usual, the first round provided many thrills and disappointments. The quintessential element of the opening 18 holes is to stay in earshot of the lead and, of course, make the cutline. Early scores on the front nine were mixed and after half the field came through, the rumor or harbinger was that the cutline could be as high at +25. The separator score was not determined until the last player tapped in on hole 18. After some hurried calculations by the volunteers in the scoring tent, +19 was the number where there were 21 scores and ties or better. It is amazing that somewhere around +19 is the cutline every year no matter how many players compete. Woebegone bubble boys (+20), Dillon Hakes and Todd Muchnick were extremely saddened by the news.
Six threesomes and one 4some would play the back tees to determine the royal blue jacket winner and the first three teed off at approximately 3:50pm. The top 9 scores, final 3 groups, have a roving scoreboard exhibiting where they are in reference to par. They were: Harry Schroeder +13, Katy Barrett +12, and Murray Hickman +11; Carl Gaglione +11, Jason Kirste +11 and Russ Schroeder +9; Rob Mullaney +7, Philip Tom +7, and Kevin Scroggins +7. Astonishingly 8 rookies made the cut. (Kevin Scroggins, Jim Burke, Mike Ryan, Tex Barch, James Derella, Mitch Kemper, Ken Cox and Murray Hickman Jr.)
The leaders were only 12 shots better than the last man to make the cut. The Lakeshore course is the one course of the 5 Majors, where that kind of deficit, realistically can be made up. After the front nine, out of nowhere, teaching pro Jim Burke was on his way to do just that. He had 4 birdies and a double to be 2 under +17, for the tournament. He shot a masterful 58 and ended +23 and was the early leader in the clubhouse. The buzz commenced that if the leaders were to succumb to the beleaguered attacks of the back nine, that score may just hold up. Veteran Thomas Buonomo and superb ball striker, would have none of it. He came in awhile later at +22. Thomas had a major controversy on understanding the rule on the famous 18th hole. His interpretation cost him as much as 6 strokes and possibly a blue jacket. His mistake has been copied a number of times in the Lakeshore as the pressure of the moment, causes rube-like behavior. Kenny Ebalo claims it cost him a blue jacket in 2010 and Harry Schroeder WON the blue jacket in 2009 because he knew the rule. Easily, if your first tee shot goes thru the fence and not over it, it is in-play. These players did not get Roberto DeVencenzo-ed, DQed, because they did not sign an incorrect scorecard. In golf, you can always declare your ball unplayable or lost and play another from the same spot with penalty of stroke and distance. Thomas may lose some sleep until the 2014 Lakeshore!
But the real noise of the early leaders was what Russ Schroeder, btw no relationship to blue jacket winner Harry, was doing. He was only 13 over at the end of 28 holes. Then I am afraid, he had an epiphany. As he stepped to box of the demonic 11th hole, he could taste the jacket. That is a real bad thing to do until the dealing is done. Overwhelmed with the life altering Major championship, he couldn’t find the dish and carded a 9 and in all but screaming……was out of the tournament.
The final 3some, Rob, Phil the Chairman, and Kevin were in a severe battle on the front 9. After Phil took a 5 shot lead after 3, Rob and Kevin put their game in full gear. Phil relinquished his lead on the 6th hole after back to back double bogies. When Robbie eagled the demure 8th, he had a 4 shot lead over the Chairman. Not has been written about the 9th hole at the Lakeshore, but it has been the nemesis of many blue jacket pursuers. It is here where Rob lost his concentration for only a moment…..but that was too long. After 2 rather poor lashes, he had to hit 5 from the tee box. After finding the crease of the fence line, he recorded a 9 and in all but the screaming……..was out of the tournament. Phil carded a par on nine and even though he was only 3 shots ahead of Rob, the murmuring in the gallery sensed correctly, that it was now a 2 horse race between the Chairman and rookie, and also teaching pro, Kevin Scroggins.
Kevin Scroggins is a pure striker of the ball. With only a few practice rounds under his belt, he was painting a masterpiece at the Lakeshore. His dreadful hooding of a tee shot on 6, was possibly the only mistake he had in the championship round. He kept staying close to the pre-tournament favorite Chairman (3-2) and as we all know, no lead is safe on the back nine of a Major. As Phil stepped to box at number 17, he had a 5 shot lead. The Chairman then displayed why he is the number 1 ranked player in the world at the Lakeshore. In front of a huge gallery in attendance, the Chairman bumped and ran a 2 hopper into the narrow fairway, up the slight embankment, and center cut the hole for a ace. In essence, with this elixir, it was over. For the first time in the 14th year of the Lakeshore, the 18th hole did not determine the winner. Phil won his 6th royal blue jacket by a record 10 shots.