Monday, July 27, 2015

Scenes From Championship Flight Final Match

Click the photos to enlarge them.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

MacDonalds Jump Out Early And Stave Off Choukas-Hayes

It's handshakes all around after the final putt on 17. (More photos tomorrow. Click to enlarge.)
HANOVER – Peering over a cliff at the distant Union Pacific Railroad posse they couldn’t shake, a disbelieving Butch Cassidy asks the Sundance Kid in their eponymous Western, Who are those guys?

When Nick and Shane MacDonald galloped out to a huge early lead and then had trouble shaking their pursuers in Sunday’s Tommy Keane Invitational championship match, they might have wondered, as Butch did, “Who are those guys?”

Except they knew exactly who was on their trail.

Trying to catch them were former Hanover High School teammates Nate Choukas and Benny Hayes.

Choukas, a rising sophomore golfer at Trinity, and Hayes, a junior golfer at the University of Puget Sound, had survived a 22-hole marathon to win their morning semifinal over fellow collegians Zach Temple and Mak Lyford.

And even after falling four holes down through five they showed no signs of backing down against the battle-tested MacDonalds.

“They are very good players and real good kids,” said Shane MacDonald after the father-son team outlasted Jake Obar and Billy Vielleux in 19 holes in their morning semifinal and then clinched a second Keane title in a row with a birdie on 17 in their afternoon match with Choukas and Hayes. “I think they were nervous at the start and made a couple of bogeys they wouldn’t normally make and that gave us a little advantage.

“Those early bogeys ended up being the difference but they kept on coming.”

And they did keep coming.

“We gave it our all in our first match and we needed our all again against the MacDonalds,” said Hayes. “We gave it our best but we never played well all week on that stretch of holes from one-to-five. We tried to fight back and made some birdies but it’s tough to beat them when you fall behind and Nick is 5- or 6-under.”

Already down three, Hayes and Choukas hit errant tee balls on No. 5 to lose the hole with a bogey. At that point it was clear to everyone including the large rolling gallery following the match that it would be a short afternoon on the course if they fell any further back.

They didn’t.

Choukas promptly drained a clutch birdie putt on six to shrink the deficit back to three.

“I think they were a little nervous early,” said Nick MacDonald. “They settled down after the fifth hole and got things together.”

A Nick MacDonald birdie on nine built the lead back to four but once again the young challengers responded, this time with a Choukas birdie putt on 11.

When Nick MacDonald hit the flagstick with his tee ball on the uphill 14th to set up an easy birdie Choukas stepped up with still another clutch putt of his own to halve another hole his team could ill afford to lose.

Their hats off in anticipation of a congratulatory handshake on the 15th green, Hayes and Choukas caught a break and dodged the proverbial bullet when Nick MacDonald’s short birdie attempt rimmed out and they halved the hole.

Backs still against the wall, Choukas and Hayes stayed alive when Hayes rolled in a 20-foot birdie putt to win 16 and stretch the match to 17.

But that’s where the chase came to a close as Nick MacDonald’s length and bunker shot to four feet led to a birdie that finally ended the match at 3&1.

The championship was the third for the MacDonalds together, the fourth overall for Nick, and the fifth for his dad.

“You know they are comfortable out there,” said Choukas. “There’s no nerve factor. You know Nick is going to pretty much step up and hit it 30 yards by you, right in the middle of the fairway. Every time. You just have to expect that and hope that you roll in a birdie putt on him and sometimes he doesn’t.”

If there was a nerve factor for Choukas and Hayes, it disappeared for good before the turn.
“It’s just that they haven’t been there before,” said Shane MacDonald. “Now they’ve seen it and felt it. They’ll be back.”

“Definitely,” said Choukas.

“That’s the plan,” said Hayes, who is taking classes this summer and flew back from the Pacific Northwest in part to play in the Keane.

Unfortunately for the rest of the field, the MacDonalds will be back again next  year – and for the foreseeable future.

“I’ll keep playing as long as Nick will have me,” said Shane with his trademark laugh before sharing the MacDonald gameplan for TKI success.

“I make sure Nick is in a good mood,” he joked. “That’s how I do it. We make a good team and don’t disagree about anything. When he asks me (about a putt) I just agree with him.

“The only thing we disagreed on this weekend was whether to get Chinese food or pizza last night.”

Final Brackets

Final brackets. Click to enlarge.

MacDonalds Repeat

Nick and Shane MacDonald jumped out to an early four-hole lead and went on to a 3&1 win over Benny Hayes and Nate Choukas to win the 40th Tommy Keane Invitational. Story, scores and pictures tonight.

Choukas-Hayes Join MacDonalds In Championship Final

It took a 10-foot Benny Hayes birdie on the 22nd hole for the team of Hayes and Nate Choukas to clinch a berth in the TKI final against the MacDonald's. Both Mak Lyford and Zach Temple had birdie putts with a good chance to go in but neither found the bottom of the cup.

In the only other match not decided earlier, Jim Keane and Kevin Sullivan advanced in the third flight.

The weather is holding and there will be full details after the championship match.

12:30 Sunday Update

Choukas-Hayes/Temple-Lyford on 19th hole deciding who will play MacDonalds in Championship Flight Final.

Sunday Morning Shower

It might actually be more of a drool coming down right now. Yuck.

The forecast is a little dicey but time will tell.

Check back at noon for updates on the morning matches. After that I'll be out on the course following the championship match. The final results and a story will be posted tonight.

Keep your fingers crossed that Ol' Sol comes out to play ;-)