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River Hills Wins 2015 CGA Interclub

The 18th Carolinas Interclub concluded this past week-end with the Semi-Finals (Saturday) and Championship Match (Sunday). The final four teams met at the Grandover Resort (East course) in Greensboro, NC to crown the 2015 Interclub Champion.

Following regular season play (April thru August) involving 79 teams from CGA member clubs in both North and South Carolina, single elimination playoff competition began in late August with a record 54 teams earning a playoff spot. Last year’s champion (The Creek Golf Association, now Highland Creek CC in Charlotte, NC) and runner-up (Willow Springs CC in Wilson, NC) survived early playoff rounds but were eliminated in the round of 16 and 8 respectively.

Saturday’s semi-final play featured a match with two newcomers to the Interclub Finals and another match with two teams from the same pod competing for the third time this year. Sunday’s Championship match, on paper, could have been looked at as a mismatch based on history and both team’s playoff records. One team was looking for their 4th championship win since 1997 while the other was in the playoffs for the first time in only their 2nd year of Interclub competition.

NORTH Region (Semi-Final): Pinehurst CC (#1-6) 10 - Umstead Pines G&CC 8

Pinehurst CC (No. 1-6) from Pinehurst, NC continued their quest to win their first Interclub Championship in their first playoff appearance against Umstead Pines G & CC from Durham, NC, who had never advanced out of the first round before this year.  The North Region final started out bleak for Pinehurst as they trailed 4-2 after the first two matches completed.  Back to back 2-1 losses put Umstead Pines in position to make their first Interclub Final with a commanding 8-4 lead.  Needing only 1½ more points to win, Umstead Pines could not muster another point as Pinehurst swept the next 6 points.  Pinehurst’s amazing comeback victory was fueled by David Kelley’s 1-up victory and Charlie Welborn’s comeback victory on the back-nine.  Martin Huff and Anthony Cordes sealed the victory for Pinehurst with their 2 & 1 four-ball win.       

SOUTH Region (Semi-Final): River Hills CC 12 - Rock Hill CC 6

With 19 pods during the Interclub regular season containing 79 teams, the odds of meeting a team from your pod in the finals was slim.  But that is just what happened in the South Region Final.  River Hills CC from Lake Wylie, SC faced off against Rock Hill CC from Rock Hill, SC for the third time this year, each team winning their matches on their respective home course during the regular season. River Hills took the rubber match over Rock Hill in convincing fashion 12-6. River Hills and Rock Hill were tied after 4 matches completed at 6-6, but River Hills swept the final six points with help from Scott Rohrer and Jesus Espina-Velosa who took all their points in their match to seal the victory.  River Hills bested Rock Hill in this grudge match, and advanced to Sunday’s Interclub Final to attempt to capture their 4th title.  


2015 Championship Match: River Hills CC 10 - Pinehurst CC (#1-6) 8

The day began with a 60 minute frost delay but under sunny skies and less than 2 mph winds. As play began at 10am, the temperature quickly rose from the 40’s to near 60 by noon. The Pinehurst captain (Dave Hampton) and partner (Dennis Fogle) led off against River Hills Jim King and Doug Rowe. The Pinehurst duo jumped out to an early 5up and 4up lead respectively after 9 holes. They held that position on the back nine to sweep all 3 match points (including a 6&5 four-ball win) and an early lead for Pinehurst.

River Hills bounced back in “game #2” as Bud Brown dispatched Jim Vigilis 5&4 and won the four-ball match (6&5) with assistance from team RHCC captain Michael Ruziska. Pinehurst’s Ernie Ferrell made a charge on the final nine winning 5 holes in a seven hole stretch for a 1up singles win to keep PCC in the lead (4–2).

The 3rd pairing went back and forth in all three matches as Brandon McGee and Mike Shively (RHCC) halved with Steve Robinson and Jim Koch (PCC) respectively in both individual matches and the four-ball match. It should be noted that Mr. Koch came from 5 down after six holes to tie his opponent.

Harold Fisher and Joe Lyons put the River Hills team ahead for the first time (6½ to 5½) in match #4 with a 3 point sweep over Mike McKitrick, Sr. and Charlie Welborn. Both Fisher and Lyons posted ESC scores of 77 and recorded a total of 6 birdies between them to control the match.

In the next to last pairing Jim Sears birdied a three hole stretch on the back nine (12-14) to post a 1up win over David Kelley that added another point to River Hills lead. However, Kelley’s teammate and four-ball partner (Jack Nance), playing the course for the first time, recorded three birdies and one bogey for 2 under 70 and 4&3 win over Paul Thomas. Together, Nance and Kelley won the four-ball match (1up) and with the 2 to 1 win forged a 7½ to 7½ tie with the final pairing to determine the champion.

In that final match, Pinehurst’s Martin Huff faced Scott Rohrer and Rob Pilewski took on Jesus Espina-Velosa for River Hills. Huff and Rohrer battled to a tie after Martin won 16, 17 and 18 for the half. Despite Pilewski’s 69 and playing to a +4, Espina-Velosa took advantage of their handicap difference (2) and posted a 72 for a narrow 2&1 win. The River Hills team also won the four-ball match 3&2 to give their club an overall 10 to 8 victory and the 4th Interclub Championship in 18 years.

During the awards ceremony, Captain Dave Hampton recognized the hard work his team gave all season and over the week-end. “To be in the playoffs in only our 2nd year of competition and especially making it to the championship match was a testament to his team member’s efforts and Pinehurst Country Clubs membership and devotion to the game”. He also thanked the CGA and Grandover Resort for the work involved in hosting this annual event.

After accepting the “Ben Payne” trophy for the 4th time, Captain Mike Ruziska echoed those same sentiments. In his first year at the helm for River Hills CC, “he was proud of the commitment his club has given to compete in the Interclub and looks forward to carrying on the tradition in 2016”.

A special “thanks” also goes out to our rules officials (Bob Bracey and Ben Payne) for their assistance throughout the week-end.          

The CGA Interclub (regular season play and all playoff matches) involves 12 competitors for each team playing in both individual and four-ball matches simultaneously. Each match is worth 1 point with 18 points available in each competition. The Carolinas Interclub is open to all CGA member clubs and begins in February/March annually with on-line entries and Pod/Group formation. For more information please contact the CGA office at 910-673-1000.

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Carolinas Golf Association
140 Ridge Road, Southern Pines, NC 28387
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