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If 2018 marks the final year a Happy Valley Country Club team is represented in the Wilson Cup, the exit was one of heartbreak early Sunday afternoon at Wedgewood Public Golf Course.
Struggles on No. 18 for three of the five tandems resulted in Happy Valley falling one point shy of finishing second in points after the three round-robin rounds and earning a spot in the championship match against a dominating Wilson Country Club squad.
A 5-5 tie against Happy Valley was good enough for Wedgewood to return to the finals. Wedgewood amassed 13.5 points, followed by Happy Valley with 13 and Willow Springs Country Club with 12. A 7-3 loss to Wilson Country Club in Sunday’s opening match eliminated Willow Springs, which stood second with nine points after Saturday’s two rounds at Wilson Country Club.
“I am really going to miss this,” lamented long-time Happy Valley participant Kevin Wooten. “I’ve played in a lot of golf tournaments and this is only one that gives me butterflies like I used to feel when I was doing long-drive competition.”
Happy Valley ceased operation on Aug. 11, but Cup officials permitted a Happy Valley team.
Aware of Willow Springs’ fate after 1 1/2 points each from the Senior duo of brothers Jerry and Danny Barnes and Cup veterans Rick Proctor and Butch O’Briant were not enough, Happy Valley needed to defeat Wedgewood by a point to advance.
But brothers Brock and Brandon Godwin could not win No. 18 against Wedgewood’s Ryan Pittman-Jesse Mercer and lost 1-up. Happy Valley’s Dwayne Baker-Charles Matthews three-putted No. 18 and wound up halving the back nine against David Lee-Jody O’Neal. Zim Hagan-Buddy Page of Happy Valley couldn’t prevail on No. 18 and wound up halving both nines against Mitch Hayes-Mike Caddy.
That one point remained elusive.
“Mixed emotions,” Matthews expressed. “Now, I know how those guys felt in past years. We three-putted No. 18; it comes down that close. It’s the whole difference.
“We really, really fought hard. It’s tough to not do it for them and for (owner) Bill (Powell); he was here. I don’t think we could have beat ‘The Club,’ but we would have liked to have played them out here. But I played hard.”
Distress pounced upon Willow Springs first after being limited to three points by WCC.
“It’s hard to beat a young (WCC) team,” reasoned Willow Springs’ Brandon McKeel. “But we dug a hole playing Wedgewood (lost 6 1/2-3 1/2 on Saturday); we needed to get 5 1/2-6 1/2 points.
“Youth is what has been missing, but I am really proud of our seniors (Jerry Barnes, Danny Barnes, Billy Clark, Butch O’Briant and Rick Proctor). We’ll be back next year and we’ll have a strong team.”
But in 2019, will the field consist of WCC, Willow Springs and Wedgewood? Or will Cup officials find a way to keep the Happy Valley name alive?
Wooten, Darryl Baker, the Godwin brothers, Page, Hagan, Scott Irby, Leander Green, Dwayne Baker and Matthews are eager to represent the Valley one more time.