Champion Barry doubles his pleasure
Drama had long since exited stage left.
Mike Barry built such a humongous lead in the Rogue Valley Stroke Play Championships, the final nine holes of the 36-hole event at Centennial Golf Club Sunday were but a formality, and it would take something out of the ordinary to create a buzz.
Then came the shot.
It was made by Barry at the 11th hole, a par 5. He had an eight-stroke lead with eight holes to play and really didn't need more cushion. Perhaps he sensed the ho-hum nature and wanted to replace it with "Holy Cow!"
Barry's tee shot on the 492-yard hole went right, just missing a fairway bunker 230 yards from the green. The ball wasn't in the sand trap but, when Barry prepared to hit it, he was. The ball, in dry, wispy grass, was thigh high to him, which is not normal. Tee ball had become T-ball. It was so awkward, some thought the prudent play was a lay-up to the 150-yard marker.
"It was a decent lie," said Barry, who wielded a 5-wood. "I knew I was going to be able to hit it. With the ball above your feet, you just kind of aim out to the right and let it come back. And that's exactly what happened."
What happened was ever so improbable.
The ball flew into the cup.
On a par 5, from a cruddy lie, he made 2. A double eagle. An albatross.
Yep, some lay-up.
"I saw it was going right at the pin," said Barry. "I saw it land and I heard it hit the pin, but no one reacted up at the green, so I really didn't know right away. Then I heard my grandma's patented yell. That's when I knew it was in.
"It was a once-in-a-lifetime shot. Pretty ridiculous. A lot of luck goes into that, but it's pretty cool."
Tommy Smith, one of his playing partners, was as awestruck as anyone.
"I don't know how you got the thing airborne out of there," he told Barry as the two reached the green.
Fans were now abuzz.
"That's the greatest golf shot I've ever seen in my life — by far," said one, unable to rid his voice of incredulity.
And rightly so. Double eagles are much rarer than holes-in-one, according to a 2004 article in Golf World magazine. It said there are about 40,000 aces annually in the U.S. compared to a couple hundred double eagles.
For the record, Barry has one of the each now.
The shot vanquished whatever pie-in-the-sky hopes anyone had of catching Barry. When his closest pursuer, Diego Velasquez, made par on the same hole, it was a three-shot swing and an 11-stroke chasm.
Barry ended up shooting 67 Sunday for a two-day total of 131 and his first men's city championship after placing second the past two years.
His 64 in the first round tied the course record for the purple tees, which was set earlier this summer by Chris Isackson in a pro-am tournament.Velasquez, who was a teammate of Barry's at Oregon State before both recently graduated, shot a final-round 68 and was second with a 139. Velasquez was the No. 1-ranked college player in the country at one point and placed fourth in the NCAA championships in June.
Defending champion Daniel Engle shot a 76 for a 151 and placed ninth.
In other divisions, Tracie Armitage captured the women's title with a final-round 86 and 168 total; Ken Stringer took the senior men's crown with a 72 and 141; and Jon Paauwe repeated as super senior men's winner with a 76 and 141.
After Barry's deuce got him to 6 under par with six holes to play, the focus was on how low he might go.
During his 64 Saturday, he was only 5 under through No. 11. And in that round, he didn't birdie the short par-4 13th, which he did Sunday to move to 7 under.
"I started thinking I had a pretty good shot at it," Barry said of the record.
Indeed, he burned the cups' edges on reasonable birdie attempts at Nos. 14 and 15, then was just off the back of the green on the par-5 16th in two after belting a 240-yard 3-iron. But a pedestrian chip shot resulted in par there, too.
Barry, who has played sparingly this summer because of work, finished with bogeys on the final two holes.
"For him not playing for, what, a month, two months," Velasquez said of Barry's round, "that's unbelievable, literally unbelievable."
Velasquez drew attention when he entered the tournament, including from Barry, who invited his friend to visit and play.
"When a guy like that is in the tournament," said Barry, "it gets your competitive juices flowing a little bit. I'd say that definitely happened yesterday, even though he didn't play as well as he usually does. I just kept it going today. I had a good swing thought for the tournament. I put some good swings on some shots and putted well. That's how it goes."
Velasquez was pleased with his ball striking but struggled a bit with his putting.
"But credit goes to Mike," he said. "I mean, if I would have putted better, I probably still wouldn't have beaten him. He was playing really good."
And on one shot, he played spectacularly.
CHAMPIONSHIP FLIGHT — Mike Barry 131, Diego Velasquez 139, Mark Wilson 144, Tommy Smith 147, Anthony Estes 149, Scott Wise 149, Rick Dimick 150, Jay Klemp 150, Dan Engle 151, Dan Wozniak 153.
FIRST FLIGHT GROSS — Don Gorman 152, Kevin Wu 153, Jon Huizinga 155, Sean Byrne 155.
FIRST FLIGHT NET — John Kandaris 141, Curtis Wagoner 143, Travis Hawthorne 143, Craig Knips 155.
SECOND FLIGHT GROSS — Alan Olson 160, Steve Robertson 162, D.L. Richardson 163, Greg Hall 173.
SECOND FLIGHT NET — Jim Palazzolo 137, Don Schamanek 144, Robin Blanks 151, Robb Hebble 152.
GROSS — Tracie Armitage 168, Gayle Jantzer 173.
NET — Robin Snider 143, Jeanne Klein 144.
SUPER SENIOR MEN
GROSS — Jon Paauwe 147, Duane Nelson 151, Bill Seymour 155.
NET — Ken Gentry 135, Glenn Ringe 138, Rod Reid 138.
FIRST FLIGHT GROSS — Ken Stringer 141, Mark Wilson 147, Glen Clark 148, Jim Overmyer 152.
FIRST FLIGHT NET — Kevin Klabunde 141, Steve Boldish 142, Gene Rogers 142, Don Sever 145.
SECOND FLIGHT GROSS — Kurt Waldman 157, John Brittain 164, Ken Weist 169, Jim Beaver 171.
SECOND FLIGHT NET — Richard Markowitz 138, Jim Hatton 144, Jan Ritter 144, Ray Flansburg 146.
Reach sports editor Tim Trower at 541-776-4479, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org