Minutes after shooting himself back into contention in the Romain Buick Senior City Golf Championship on Sunday, John Kaposta faced a shot that could take him right back out.
Kaposta was on the par-4 16th hole at Fendrich, both one stroke and one hole ahead of firstround co-leader Dave Bates at 1-over par for the tournament. After clunking a tree off the tee, Kaposta watched his ball come straight back behind it and snuggle down in the rough, hard to see, let alone hit. All that he had to do was pull out a 4-iron and "punch fade" it 160 yards under and around a stately gum tree. Then he did it, keeping the ball low and landing it short, where it ran up on the green and stopped just four feet left of the hole. One putt later, Kaposta had all but won.
Kaposta parred in for the day's only under-par around at 2-under 68, while Bates made a bogey and finished alone in second, his second straight Senior City runner-up finish. That left Kaposta even-par (141) for the tournament after a 2-over 73 Saturday at Helfrich. Bates finished at 143. Robin Rubrecht was third at 144 and three tied for fourth at 146: first-round co-leader Britt Reddington, Tony Hill and Jim Atkins. Kaposta said he was ready for the miracle shot at 16 because he'd already faced and executed two others like it earlier on the same nine holes. "I probably hit a better shot just like it on 12," said Kaposta. "That was a 180-yard punch fade with the hybrid (club).
Then I had to do it again on the very next hole from 160 yards with the 4-iron. I was fortunate enough to par both of them." When Kaposta followed with a two-putt birdie at the par-5 14th, he was back to 1-over for the tournament while Bates was backing up with three bogeys in four holes behind him. "I couldn't get up-and-down when I missed the greens," said Bates, who made the turn at even-par for the tournament. "I had trouble chipping to them at 10, 12 and 13 and bogeyed. Then I got a couple back." Bates did that with a two-putt birdie of his own at No. 14, before hitting it inside three feet at the par-3 15th to make a second straight birdie and get back to 1-over for the tourney. But that was almost the exact moment Kaposta hit the shot of the tournament one hole ahead. "That's when I saw John had a short putt on 17 (for birdie)," said Bates. "I just assumed he'd make it. I thought I had to birdie in and probably got a little too aggressive. "But I can't feel too bad. I'm an old baseball coach and I always tried to instill in my kids the importance of being a worthy adversary. I may not have won again, but at least they knew it was a battle."
Kaposta agreed. "That's all I was trying to do, battle," he said. "I really didn't have confidence in my swing all weekend, but I managed to get it around. The thing was, when I needed a shot today, like on 16, I hit it." Kaposta, 50, a former Evansville Courier & Press Men's City Golf Tournament champion, became the second player in three years to win the Senior City in his first year of eligibility after Paul Gentry won in 2006.