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In past Wilson Cup interclub men’s golf tournaments, players upon the verge of a horrendous number could concede the hole to their opponent, pick up their golf ball and head to the next tee.
The format the first 36 holes of competition in the 26th Wilson Cup on Saturday at Willow Springs Country Club is medal or stroke play for the first time.
Avoiding a big number on a layout will be imperative. A score of 10 or higher on a hole could be the difference between the unfortunate golfer’s team advancing or not advancing to the championship round Sunday at Wilson Country Club.
As Willow Springs Country Club mainstay Brock Godwin emphasizes: “Every shot matters!”
“Big numbers are going to be a definite factor,” declared Wilson Country Club head pro Josh Price.
New wrinkles mark the 2019 Cup because of the field dwindling from four teams to three with Happy Valley Country Club closing last August.
Thus, medal play is being implemented for the first time. The two teams with the lowest composite medal scores for Saturday’s two sessions at Willow Springs advance to the 36-hole championship round at Wilson Country Club on Sunday. Match play returns for that segment.
Strategy will be more of a factor Sunday.
Willow Springs head pro Jimmy Gurkin acknowledges he’s not a fan of the format. He reasons his players would prefer match play all the way because it’s something they either don’t or seldom encounter during the year.
“There’s no strategy at all Saturday,” Gurkin contended. “You put them out there and let them play. It’s man against the golf course.”
Added Wedgewood Public Golf Course head pro Brady Pinner: “It will be interesting to see how it goes. You can match personalities, for sure. It’s not a perfect system and it’s on a trial basis. But everybody may love it.”
Wilson Cup founder Kent Williams, who will be in the WCC lineup, pointed out: “It will be two different tournaments completely. You’ve got to have a different mindset.
“Then, on Sunday, we go back to what we’ve done the last 25 years. You get rewarded for playing aggressively. If you hit one sideways, you just go to the next hole.”
Wedgewood’s David Lee compares Saturday’s 36 holes to playing in the county championship or a club championship.
“It’s definitely going to be a little different,” he cautioned. “You’ve got to play a smarter round. Before, if you had a bad hole, you moved on. You will have to play really good golf to get to Sunday. It’s going to be more golf; it’s going to be two long days.”
Wilson Country Club is the defending champion and has captured three of the last four Wilson Cups. A title in 2019 will leave WCC and Willow Springs deadlocked for the top spot with 10 championships each. Willow Springs seeks its first title since 2010.
In qualifying, WCC’s Bill Boles, a Super Seniors entrant, was a scorching 11-under-par for 36 holes. Newcomer Derek Hamm, a former Barton College standout and now an assistant golf coach at Barton, turned heads with a 65 in qualifying. Hamm and Hearn Walston are WCC newcomers.
Willow Springs’ lineup is influenced by several members who represented Happy Valley in past Wilson Cups. Brock Godwin led the qualifying.
Wedgewood bids for a finals appearance for the fifth consecutive year.
Careful with his remarks, WCC’s Price said: “We’ll see where everybody is going to sprinkle in what they think are advantages for them. Playing at home is always going to be an advantage and we certainly hope to make it to Sunday.
“We are most certainly very talented and have the capability of doing so (winning again). We certainly want to play well and are really excited. It’s going to be a fun year.”
NO LOOKING AHEAD
WCC must guard against looking ahead.
“We need to do what we can to keep our heads down and take care of business,” Price challenged.
Williams added: “We are very confident we can win. But to me, there’s going to be more pressure on the first day than there has ever been.”
From Wedgewood’s perspective, Lee explained: “I was thrilled to see how many came out for qualifying. It shows a lot of enthusiasm for the tournament.
“But I also think we have a really good team — one of the best ones we’ve ever had.”
Pinner will be directing Wedgewood fortunes for the fourth year and insists: “We’ve got the best team since I’ve been here. Wilson Country Club will be good and playing at Willow Springs will be an advantage for them.”
Saturday doesn’t escape the attention of Willow Springs’ Brock Godwin.
“You are not playing an opponent; you are playing the golf course,” he contended. “You have to play well as a team, post as many low scores as possible and try to avoid big numbers.
“In match play, you go out, try to make a bunch of birdies and play your opponent.”
Godwin warns the impact of the Seniors and Super Seniors had best not be overlooked.
“I feel good about our team,” he continued. “We have a lot of good players and great senior players. We’ve got depth and the new format fits our team.
“We just need to stay focused, grind it out and hope to find a way to make it to Sunday morning. You can’t win the Wilson Cup on Saturday.”
Gurkin interjected: “I’m sure they’re all good players at Wedgewood, but I think Wilson Country Club will win it. I hope not; I think we have a good chance.
“Wilson Country Club has the advantage — the finals are there. If we played the finals here, nobody else would have a chance.”
And keep in mind Williams’ observation: “Par is a good score all around the course — both days.”