With Baker Tower looming on the far right, Shane MacDonald hits his drive on the 16th hole in Sunday's championship match. Watching from left are Jake Obar and Andy Hydorn. (Double-click photos to supersize.)
MacDonald, Hydorn Win 2nd TKI
HANOVER – Lebanon’s Shane MacDonald laughed Sunday afternoon as he recalled his introduction to longtime Tommy Keane Invitational playing partner Andy Hydorn 19 years ago this month.
“Scott (Peters) told me this rep was a great guy and we should play the TK together,” MacDonald said. “I didn’t even know what he looked like and he didn’t know what I looked like. Our tee time was something like 12:50 and I rolled in at 12:40. Andy said, 'Are you Shane? Thank God, because our tee time is in 10 minutes.’
“We hit our tee balls and I went right over, grabbed the cooler, put it on the cart and said, ‘Let’s go.’ Andy was looking at me like I was crazy because he had never played beverage golf before.”
Every arranged marriage should last this long. And be this successful.
With MacDonald wasting no time drilling shot after shot down the middle and Hydorn showing off his usual sweet swing, the pair claimed their second TKI title with a 2&1 victory over Jake Obar and Bill Vielleux. MacDonald and Hydorn also shared the 2002 championship with Scott and Mike Peters.
“It was a good match,” said MacDonald. “Jake and Billy are great guys to play with. They probably didn't play their best golf, but we ended up being 4-under through 17 holes and we didn't make a bogey, which is pretty much what we've been doing.
“We're not flashy. Andy has the power and hits it as far as they do. I don't. But I can just frustrate the heck out of them.”
Obar, who teamed with Rex Whitney to win the 2006 TKI, gave the winners their due. “Andy probably has the best golf swing in the tournament,” he said. “And Shane doesn't make many mistakes. He'll laugh and giggle because he doesn't hit it very far, but he can play with most people out here and he chips and putts better than most.
“They just missed a lot of putts early. If they had made them they could have really drummed us. They are a tough team. They are a great team to play against because they are such good guys.”
Vielleux and Obar got the early jump when the former made an 18-inch birdie putt on the par-3 fourth hole and the latter drained a long one to win the sixth hole and put their team 2-up.
Although they were next-door neighbors as children, the former standout Hartford High School athletes were playing together in the TKI for the first time. “Growing up my dad and uncle always played in this tournament,” said Vielleux. “Not being into golf until my early 20s, I'd come up and watch, but I've only played in this the last three years. I played with my dad the last two years. It was great playing with Jake.”
A bogey on No. 8 sliced the first-year teammates’ lead in half.
“We didn't convert on a couple of good birdie chances early that we really needed to make,” said Obar. “And you really can't make a bogey in a championship match. Anytime you are letting them win with a par you are giving them something. That's not to take anything away from them because they played well. But you can't let them win with par.”
The teams had matching birdies on 10 and 11 before MacDonald nailed another long putt for birdie on 12 to square the match for the first time in eight holes. Hydorn thought the first birdie of the day was just as important to his team's fortunes as the one that tied the match.
“A key point was 10,” he said. “We were two down after six and they had made a bogey, but we hadn't made a birdie yet,” he said. “We had a couple really close putts slide by the hole. I think the one on 10 going in really got us going.”
The match was all-square until 15 when Vielleux hit his 3-wood into the trees and had to take a drop, and Obar’s six-footer to halve the hole with a par wouldn’t fall. “That was the turning point,” Obar said. “Bogeying 15 and then 16.”
With Obar and Vielleux needing a GPS to find the green off the 16th tee, MacDonald made it hurt by rolling in a prayer to win the hole with a par. “I hit a good shot in and it just went long,” he said. “It was right on and then I had a little hard-pan lie and I didn't want to leave it there. I just wanted to get it up there so I’d have a chance at a putt, and it went in. I didn't want them to be able to halve it with a 5. It would have been a tragedy if we let them halve us when they were all over the place.”
With the 17th playing as a par-4, Hydorn ended the match by driving the green and then rolling his long downhill putt to gimme range.
“I've always said I love playing with Shane because he settles me down,” said Hydorn, who flew in from Houston just to play the tournament. “He does his thing. He doesn't hit it out of play and that's huge. What our strategy was, was to put two balls on the green. Not have somebody out of play. Luckily we were able to kind of do that.”
And they’ll be trying to do it again next July when they celebrate 20 years as teammates.
“I’ll be back, no doubt,” said Hydorn. “I've lived in Chicago, Massachusetts and Houston while this thing has been going on. And you know what? Every year I make time to come back. I have a lot of friends up here now and I really, really enjoy coming up and seeing everybody. It's just a great time.
“I think the world of Shane. I consider him a friend and a good one. It's just kind of funny that we don't really see each other or talk a whole lot outside of this. I've lived in a lot of different places and I have a lot of friends from different groups. It's hard to keep up with everybody, but Shane and I don't skip a beat.”
Added MacDonald: “My wife laughs about that. She says, ‘You see each other once a year and it's like you are together every weekend.’ ”
They aren’t, of course.
They only play like it.
DIVOTS – Obar and Vielleux advanced to the championship match with a 4&3 win over Dean Cashman and Mike Pollard in the morning match. ... Hydorn and MacDonald earned a 2&1 win over Josh Hilderbrand and Josh Wilson in the morning. ... Tony Pippin and Ted Byrne earned the First Flight title with a 2&1 win over Joe King and Sean Lacey. ... Brothers Dave and Ron Cioffi took the Second Flight crown with a 1-up win over Jim Keane and Kevin Sullivan. ... While he’s an amateur, Hydorn makes his living in golf as a partner in golf apparel company Back Nine USA.