|Mon, Sep 15, 2014 05:37 AM
|Issue of September 10, 2014
August 06, 2014 | 10:55 AM
This time, Matt Bruce had to play catch up. When he gained the lead Sunday at the New Salisbury Membership, Bruce didn't let go.
One of two players to break par on Sunday, Bruce shot a 1-under 69 to complete the 36-hole event with a 141. He was three strokes better than runners-up Kyle Mattingly and Tony Beavers (144).
"Going into Sunday, I knew that I needed a round in the 60s," Bruce said. "I never go into a round expecting people to come back to me. I knew I would have to try to go catch him myself and, to do that, I was going to have to eliminate big numbers and make birdies. I didn't make as many birdies as I wanted, but I didn't have any big numbers."
It was the fourth Membership title for Bruce, all of which were won in the previous six editions of the event at the nine-hole course. It was his first since 2012.
Bruce began Sunday's round four strokes behind 2014 North Harrison High School graduate Joseph Hinton. Bound for Oakland City University in the coming weeks to play men's golf, Hinton fired the lowest round of the tournament on Saturday. His 2-under par 68 sat at the top of the leader board after 18 holes. Beavers was three shots back after a 71, while Alan Reed, the 2001 Membership champ, carded a 72.
Hinton stayed at 2-under par for the tournament through the first seven holes on Sunday. It was the eighth hole, a par-four dogleg right, that allowed Bruce to make up ground quickly. Bruce scored a birdie on the hole, while Hinton took a double bogey, bringing him within one stroke.
"No. 8 was a big turning point in the round," Bruce said. "I was four down going into that hole, and Joseph got into a little bit of trouble in the hazard. I was able to make a pretty good 20-footer for birdie and picked up three shots there. I knew then I had the momentum going forward."
On No. 9, Hinton bogeyed while Bruce had a par to knot the pair on the leader board.
Making the turn, Hinton went over par on the next four holes, eventually falling out of contention. He settled for fifth place (152).
Pars on Nos. 10 and 11 allowed Bruce to open a two-shot lead not only on Hinton, but also on Mattingly, who was playing in another group. Bruce gave a shot back on No. 12 but nailed a short putt on No. 13 to space out his lead.
"When I was standing on the first tee, I could see (No. 4/13) pin and knew I wanted to be either short or left of the pin to make for an easier chip shot," Bruce said. "I was able to execute good tee shots on both nines to set up birdies."
Beavers shot a 39 on the front nine but made a late run at Bruce. He had birdies on Nos. 13 and 15 but could get no closer than three strokes.
Reed also gave it a whirl, making a birdie on No. 14 to get within two shots of Bruce. He'd fall off on the next hole with a double bogey. Reed finished fourth with a 147.
While golfers around him attempted to make runs, Bruce held steady, carding pars on the final six holes. The consistency led to another Membership title for Bruce. Locally, Bruce has also won the New Salisbury and Old Capital Invitationals during his young career.
"New Salisbury Golf Course has made me the golfer I am today," Bruce said. "I grew up playing it and, hopefully, will continue to play it for years to come. To be able to win my fourth Membership means a lot."
Bruce said he remembers being in the same shoes as Hinton in tournaments.
"I was once one of the young guys that was battling the older guys, and now Joseph and others are doing the same to me," Bruce said. "Tony had a great round Saturday. Joseph had an awesome first round and he struggled Sunday, but golf will do that to you. It has done it to all of us before. He has many wins in his future, I am sure, and I wish him the best in playing at Oakland City."
In the first flight, Dan Alexander fired a pair of 81s for a 162 overall, claiming the top spot. Kent Lance (164) was the runner-up.
Competing in the senior flight, Hall of Fame basketball coach Joe Hinton backed up his round of 77 with a 75 on Sunday. His two-day total of 152 was 10 strokes better than second-place finisher Jim Beanblossom.
Eight women went to the tee box, but none could catch Devan Smith. Set to begin her sophomore year on the women's golf team at Hanover College, Smith shot 157 for the 36-hole event. Her best round was 76 on Saturday. Janet Higdon (172) was the runner-up followed by Hallie Hinton (175).
In the high school flight, Jack Phelps took home the top spot with a 174, shooting an 84 Saturday then a 90 on Sunday. Jackson Shaffer (178) was the runner-up.
Upcoming events at New Salisbury Golf Club include a two-man 27-hole tournament on Sunday, Sept. 14. The course also will host a pair of upcoming scrambles: Saturday, Aug. 16, for North Harrison High School athletics and Saturday, Sept. 13, for North Harrison basketball.
For more information about tournaments, call the course at 812-347-2396.
Championship Flight – 1. Matt Bruce 72-69--141, 2t. K. Mattingly 75-69--144, 2t. T. Beavers 71-73--144, 4. A. Reed 72-75--147, 5. Joseph Hinton 68-84--152, 6. G. Stackhouse 76-77--153, 7. C. Barr 78-81--159, 8. L. Long 78-83--161.
First Flight – 1. D. Alexander 81-81--162, 2. K. Lance 85-79--164, 3. R. Higdon 81-86--167, 4. S. Shaffer 89-84--173, 5. G. Hoyer 89-86--175.
Senior Flight – 1. Joe Hinton 77-75--152, 2. J. Beanblossom 80-82--162, 3t. G. Smith 81-82--163, 3t. J. Newmann 83-80--163, 5. J. McCleskey 87-85--172.
Ladies Flight – 1. D. Smith 76-81--157, 2. J. Higdon 88-84--172, 3. H. Hinton 83-92--175, 4. C. Thompson 92-99--191, 5. J. Baker 98-96--194.
Junior Flight – 1. J. Phelps 84-90--174, 2. J. Shaffer 90-88--178, 3. N. Alexander 95-103--198.