The Men’s City Golf Tournament has taken place since 1926 and in that time, you can be sure, not too many putts matched the pressure of the one Patrick Kelley drained on the first playoff hole to win this year’s championship.
After watching his opponent, Joe Hayden, stick his approach to 6 feet, Kelley had a winding 16-footer for birdie Sunday at the par-4 1st hole at Autumn Ridge Golf Club.
The gallery of about 250 certainly thought Kelley’s best chance was to force another hole, but instead he won it all, thanks to powerful stroke on his birdie putt and a near miss by Hayden on his.
I knew I had to put pressure on him. It’s match play at that point, and I had to take a run at it, said Kelley, a 26-year-old financial analyst with Parkview.
I gave it enough speed to put it 2 or 3 feet past the hole.
Kelley came into the final round of the 54-hole tournament as the leader and shot a 1-over 73.
Hayden posted a 3-under 69, and both finished at 1-over 217.
Ryan Olbin placed third at 3-over 219, after a 71.
First-round leader Travis Hemsoth and 2012’s runner-up Johnny Strawser, who is the club champion at Autumn Ridge, tied for fourth at 6 over, after shooting 74s.
It may have been the first victory for Kelley in the marquee event of the Fort Wayne Golf Association season, but it was just another accolade for the family.
His cousin Tom Kelley has won this tournament more than anyone – nine times.
Tom’s had his name on that trophy so many times, so it’s nice to get another Kelley name on that trophy, Patrick Kelley said.
Though they were in different groups, things got tight on the front nine between Kelley and Hayden, who shot a 4-under 32 on the front to put them both atop the leader board.
On the par-5 15th, Kelley’s approach shot sailed over the green and a cart path, and it toyed with going out of bounds, preceding a bogey.
I had interesting lie in the rough, Kelley said of what precipitated the poor approach shot.
I knew the ball was sitting up, and I didn’t want to catch it fat. It was sitting just over the bunker. I tried picking it but unfortunately I caught too much of the golf ball. But I made a good bogey and three pars coming in.
Hayden had the lead but was unable to capitalize, hitting his tee shot on the par-4 17th almost out of bounds. He recovered with a punch out and an approach to 8 feet, but his par putt lipped out.
On the par-4 18th, Hayden and Kelley made identical 7-foot par putts to force the playoff.
I’ve played in this tournament many years and, even though I missed it the last few, this means a lot that I could do this today, said Kelley, who had two top-five finishes before this.
There hadn’t been a first-time winner at the City Tournament since 2009, when Erich Johnston won at Coyote Creek.
Scott Pieri won in 2010, 2011 and 2012, but he was stripped of his amateur status this summer by the USGA for lending his name to a commercial for retailer Golf Etc., even though Pieri received no financial compensation.
Marty Rifkin placed sixth at 7 over, after a final-round 77. Steve Vernasco and Spencer Gillig tied for seventh at 8 over and Callahan Elzey followed his second-round 69 with a 79 and finished ninth at 9 over.