Sunrise Beach, MO – Another full field of both “open” players and seniors showed up April 12-13 for the 4th annual Porto Cima Four Ball.
The winning team in last year’s open division, Wayne Fredrick and Kory Bowman, was absent this year—and Judd Easterling lost last year’s partner, Jace Long, to the professional ranks. So, the many other elite “open” teams had hope that maybe this was their year.
In the senior division, last year’s team of Kansas City natives Steve Groom and Andy Smith was back to defend against the usual strong array of senior teams.
Porto Cima, a Nicklaus design at The Lake, is plenty tough without wind, but that’s rarely the case in the spring of the year. The wind blew pretty hard all day Saturday out of the south, so despite the ample sunshine, the course played particularly tough. Holes like #2, #3, #5, and #16-#18 were, to quote MGA Executive Director Scott Hovis, “brutal.”
The beautifully designed and maintained Porto Cima facility can lull one to sleep with its gorgeous vistas of The Lake and excellent conditioning. It is, therefore, always a good thing that this first “major” event in Missouri is played with a partner, and partners were leaning heavily upon each other throughout the two days. Saturday’s sun and wind gave way to a bit of early rain and clouds most of the day on Sunday. Another blast of rain hit just minutes after the last group got in Sunday, and the field was spared a finish in what would have truly been more brutal conditions.
In the open division, the winning team of Chad Niezing and Chris Dale played very steady golf both days and their 68-69 (-7) was good enough to win by one over first day leaders Judd Easterling (Mizzou asst. golf coach) and Jonathan May. The latter were still leading by three shots after the front nine on Sunday, but Niezing/Dale “flipped the script” with three birdies coming in while Easterling/May struggled to a one-over back nine and a loss by one.
The team of Ryan Eckelkamp and David Strickland came in another shot back for third and the team of Pat Britt and Drew Hatten came fourth at -4.
In the senior division, Columbia’s Ron Eilers and Chuck Admire started Sunday three shots behind the 67 shot by David Teel and Mike Wilson, Sr. They made up that deficit, and more, on Teel/Wilson, Sr., but had to withstand a late charge by last year’s senior winners, Groom and Smith. The 66 fired by Eilers/Admire was the low round of either day and their excellent 32 on the back nine Sunday was just good enough to give them a one stroke win.
The team of Bill Roberts and David Cresap finished third at 138 and Don Kuehn and Greg Loteckie came in at 140 for fourth.
The comment was made again that the great golf course, reasonable entry fee, and “partner golf” made the Porto Cima Four Ball “the best way to open the golf season.”