Thursday, September 22, 2011

The last laugh

(From left) Jeff Couch, Gregory Macgraw and Horace Brewster conquered the Stadium Course in the final round of the Golf Channel Am Tour Senior National Championship.

By Brandon Tucker
September 21, 2011 9:57 PM ET  
LA QUINTA, Calif -- As the third ball landed safely on the island green 17th of the Stadium Course at PGA West, the three golfers on the tee all rejoiced with high-fives, hoots and hollers all around.

Pete Dye’s infamous Stadium Course has a way of making its competitors take on an Us vs. Dye mentality. In the 4th round, the final group of the Sr. Hogan flight, Jeff Couch, Gregory Macgraw and Horace Brewster rallied around each other. In the end, they defeated one of Dye's most demanding creations. Couch won the flight by six shots (+24 for a four-day total of 312) and Macgraw was medalist of the Stadium with a 76. Brewster took home 4th place with an 82 that included three birdies.

With a finishing stretch as tough as the Stadium, it might be best to laugh your way through it. MacGraw made a long birdie putt on the 17th and all three avoided a double bogey on the closing holes. 

Having a Hogan flight handicap, 8.0-11.9 can be cruel in a way. Golfers at this level can hit enough good shots to wonder if, with a little more time on the range, they could get their game down to scratch. But interspersed between those glimmers of hope are enough mental gaffes and errant swings to keep you humble.

But those five golfers in the Hogan flight who broke 80 (plus many more who shot their handicap) on the Stadium Course, a design deemed too tough by the best golfer in the world and in final round tournament conditions, leave La Quinta with their own big victory.

Hogan Flight delivers the shot of the tournament

Three aces were recorded over four rounds at the Senior National Championships, but none of them were the shot of the week. That came from Hogan Flight competitor Denny Carlson.

The 65-year-old from Beavercreek, Ohio scored a double eagle on the 7th hole of the Nicklaus Course in Round 3. He hit a 21-degree Wilson Staff hybrid from 211 yards into the hole. 

Clearly one for theatrics, he also birdied the island green 17th in the final round.

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