Durant’s hole-in-one leads his team to Legends of Golf championship
RIDGEDALE, Mo. — Like any other sport, momentum can make all the difference in golf.
And there’s no better way to seize the momentum than a hole-in-one.
Joe Durant aced the 166-yard 12th hole on Sunday to spark a final round of 9-under par as the team of Durant and Billy Andrade rallied to win the championship of the Champions Tour Legends of Golf at Top of the Rock.
“I just hit a good solid shot, I was just trying to hit it right of the flag,” Durant says. “We knew we were playing well today and it just happened to go in the hole.”
The tournament was a two-man, better-ball competition played at Buffalo Ridge Golf Club and Top of the Rock, the latter being a nine-hole, par-3 course — the first such course ever used in a sanctioned event by either the regular or Champions Tour. There were two two divisions: The Champions for players 50 and older, and the Legends for players 65 and older.
Durant and Andrade opened the day in a four-way tie for fourth place at 10-under, three shots out of the lead held by Sandy Lyle and Ian Woosnam. Durant and Andrade started making their move with four birdies on the first nine, and moved it to 15-under with a birdie on 10.
Then came the pivotal 166-yard 12th, when Durant made a hole-in-one — the sixth of his career — with a 7-iron. Woosnam and Lyle were also 15-under going into 12 but made a bogey — a three-shot swing in a three-shot victory.
Durant and Andrade closed with two more birdies to finish at 19-under, three shots better than Woosnam and Lyle.
“We still had a lot of work to do (after the hole-in-one) because there’s danger on those few holes coming in,” Durant says, “especially with club selection being as difficult as it was this week. So we had to kind of just catch our breath a little bit and get back to business.”
The duo closed the deal with birdies on 15 and 16.
“I can’t be more excited to be in a situation to win out here, because this is what we want to do,” Andrade says. “This is our goal, to try to get in the winner’s circle, and to do it like this and do it with Joe has been such a treat for me. ”
The teams of Mark Calcavecchia-Steve Lowery and Loren Roberts-Mark Weibe tied for third at 15-under.
The Legends wrapped up their portion of the tournament with nine holes Sunday morning. The team of Larry Nelson and Bruce Fleisher had a four-shot leading entering the final day and that was too much to overcome, as they shot a final round 1-under to cruise to a three-shot win at 12-under.
“We were playing well, we played about as good as we needed to for nine holes,” Nelson says.
The team of Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player shot a 2-under to finish alone in second place at 9-under.
“It’s very difficult on a 9-hole course to make up four shots,” Player says. “I think we made up one and we really enjoyed playing. It was a very exciting week, a different format, I think golf needs more of this.
“I think people still want to see (the players) from yesterday and yesteryear …”