When golf tournaments end with one stroke of separation, it’s tempting to look back and say
Dave Delong won his second consecutive Evansville Men’s Senior City golf Championship on
some particular hole or with one certain swing or putt.
It could’ve been the 10-footer that died on the lip of the 18th hole on Sunday for runner-up Bryan
Compton at Helfrich Hills. Or it could’ve been the miraculous birdie roll DeLong made from off the
green and above the hole on No. 6.
But the only real difference may have been something as simple as a break, the results from
similar offline second shots on the par-5 13th that took two very divergent paths for DeLong and
Both attempts went right, DeLong’s by design from a tight lie; Compton’s wasn’t by design.
DeLong’s hit a tree, Compton’s the cart path. But DeLong’s caromed back into the fairway while
Compton’s bounded through the green and into a lateral hazard.
“That’s just golf,” both would say later.
DeLong was able to make par and Compton could not. And what had once been a five-stroke
lead for Compton – the first-round leader for the third year in a row – had become DeLong’s
advantage by one. It would be enough.
DeLong increased his lead to two strokes on No. 14 with a long par putt, and then saw it halved
on No. 17 when Compton hit his second shot to within 3 feet and made the putt for birdie.
On No. 18, it appeared Compton might force a playoff when his second shot settled 10 feet below
the hole and DeLong’s lag putt was solid and he marked less than a foot away before finishing
with a 1-under-par 142 total to win the Francis Fleming Flight.
“I still had a chance there at the last hole,” said Compton, “but it’s hard to release that putter head
even when you have to make it. But, I thought I made it when I hit it.”
Instead, it tickled the bottom lip and Compton was left to groan with the crowd.
“I just didn’t make enough putts,” said Compton. “The thing about Dave is you know he’s going to
be steady. He’s all about fairway and greens. He just doesn’t make mistakes.”
DeLong hit the last three greens and two-putted them all to finish the round in 1-over 72. He hit
14 greens and needed only 33 putts.
“To be honest, I really didn’t play that well,” he said. “I hit it OK, but my hands felt like wood when
I was holding the putter. But I was somehow able to nurse it around the course. I just don’t try to
do anything I can’t do.”
Tom Haines had the best round of the day at Helfrich with a 69 to finish in third at 144. Jim Atkins
was fourth at 145.
Other flight winners were Joe Hahn at 144 in the 55-59 Billie Martin; Bob Van Briston at 151 in
the 60-64 Bob Hamilton; Harold Vore at 152 in the 65-69 Richie Moore; and Don Partridge at 156
in the 70-up Ed Wolf. It was Partridge’s third win in as many years.
The tournament’s first round was held at McDonald Golf Course on Saturday.
Dave DeLong now knows just how fast hanging on to win can go to winning with flare. It’s one shot, a simple pitch-and-run. DeLong who lost the Senior City title last year in a playoff to Brad Coole, sealed that championship Sunday by chipping in for birdie on the 18th hole and a four-shot win over Bryan Compton at McDonald Golf Course.
DeLong who has shot under par in all four rounds he’s played in the Senior City, was the only player under par for the tournament. He followed Saturday’s 1-under 69 at Fendrich, with a 1- under 71 Sunday at McDonald. Besides the overall medal title he also won the Francis Fleming (50-59) Flight.
Compton, who opened with a 67 to share the first round lead with Jim Atkins, finished alone in second at 144 after shooting a 77 Sunday. “I hit it this bad yesterday,” said Compton, “but think it finally caught up with me today. All those wild drives I hit had something to do with it.” Compton was followed by four players in a tie for third: Jim Atkins, Dave Bates, Tony Hill and Joe Hahn.
DeLong admitted he hadn’t thought about making the chip from just inches off the first cut on the 220-yard par 3 18th. “I was just trying to nurse it down by the hole,” said DeLong, who lead by two strokes entering the hole. “I knew I had a two shot lead and Bryan had a tough putt for par. I was just trying to make no less than bogey.” But the 40-foot chip was true. It landed just on the green and ran at the hole. It was dying at the cup when it made a little right turn to certain victory.
DeLong thinks his game translates well for the senior circuit. He said: “I’m not an overpowering player. I just don’t make many mistakes. I think I lull people to death.” Atkins had another view. “I think Dave just managed his game better than anyone else today,” he said. “It got away from me early. But then I had a couple of chances to get back in it and just never did.” Atkins bogeyed the first three holes Sunday and then had a chance with short birdie putts on Nos. 10, 11, 12 and 13. But he played those four holes even par. Compton stayed around longer, but an errant drive on the par 5 14th resulted in a double bogey, while DeLong was making par.
“Everybody’s got their own style,” said DeLong, “but after Bryan’s misfortune I was just thinking fairways and greens.” Still, he needed a 20-foot putt for par on the 15th, before registering routine pars on 16 and 17. Compton stayed in the hunt with a 30-foot par putt on16 and then drove near the green on 17 with DeLong in the right rough. “I was down in a little hole in the rough and just had to chop it out,” said Compton. “I figured I needed birdie there.” Instead, both the front runners two-putted for par to set the stage for Delong’s dramatic clincher on the 18th. “I was just trying to control my emotions and not make a stupid mistake,” said DeLong. “When it’s two shots anything can still happen. It feels good to win.”
The Bob Hamilton (60-69) Flight was won by John Hamilton with a 145 after rounds of 70 and 75. Jerry Latham and Steve Pritchett tied at 151. Latham took second in a playoff. The Ed Wolf (70 and up) Flight was won by Don Partridge with a 156, which left him nine strokes better than runner-up Bob Gerst. The tournament, now in its second year, had a field of 96 players, down from a full field of 120 last year. But nobody, seemed to mind. Said Compton: “This is an awfully fun tournament for us old guys. I was just glad to be in it. Maybe next year.”
Brad Coole didn’t know when he had the lead Sunday in the inaugural Men’s Senior City Golf
Tournament. But he knew what to do once he got into a playoff for the championship at Helfrich
Hills golf course.
The 50-year-old golf superintendent at Rolling Hills Country Club had to shoot his career-low
score at Helfrich, a 3-under-par 68 to tie DeLong at 138 for the 36-hole event and force a playoff.
DeLong posted a 70 and then nearly knocked himself out of the playoff on the first hole when he
duck-hooked his drive into the trees lining the fairway. He managed to extricate himself and
matched Coole’s par on the hole.
On the second extra hole Coole pulled his tee shot almost into the small lake on the left side. But
he laced his approach to 22 feet above the pin. DeLong’s drive wasn’t as far to the left and his
approach landed 18 feet from the pin.
Coole calmly surveyed his putt and then drilled it for a birdie. DeLong missed his putt to conclude
the match. Since Coole was the overall winner, DeLong was honored as the 50-59 age group
DeLong shot a first-round 68 and Coole had matched par 70 at Fendrich. Coole, playing one
group ahead of DeLong, birdied four of his first seven holes Sunday. Yet DeLong birdied his first
four holes to go six under. When they made the turn Coole still was four-under and DeLong was
When Coole bogeyed the 15th, he had both the 50-59 age group and the overall standings, with a
4-under par 66 at Fendrich. He will try to fend the field off when the seniors wind up play today at
Accuracy was his game in the first round of the inaugural 26-hole tournament. He hit 17 of 18
greens. He missed the 18th green and settled for his only bogey of the round to go with five
“I felt like I’ve been hitting the ball good,” Compton said, “But not today. I didn’t feel like I hit it
very well, but I was scoring. At 51, every swing is a new experience.”
Compton assumed a two-stroke lead over Dave DeLong, who came in late in the day with a 68.
Bill Osbourne, Jerry White and John Hamilton fashioned 69s as the only others in the field of 120
shooting under par.
Five more players matched par 70: Ken Schreiber, Steve Pritchett, Brad Coole, David Trout and
Dave Bates. Another six were one stroke over par: Jim Atkins, Joe Hahn, Dan Hewins, Tony
Hill, Frank Vincent and Bob Loewen.
DeLong cut his finger deeply a couple of months ago and said he just got the stitches removed,
meaning his practice time had been limited. “Maybe that’s why I played well today,” he laughed.
“I shanked my first iron and I had one three-putt on the front side and two on the back. I birdied
No. 9 to get under par. Overall, I played well.”
Jerry White received an early birthday present with his 69.
“My daughter gave me this shirt,” he said, “and it helped. But what really helped me was
watching Bryan (Compton) play.”
Hamilton assumed the lead among the 60-69 group with his one-under score. “I played good,” he
said. “I had three birdies and two bogeys. I made one long putt of 40 feet for birdie on 11.”
Hamilton enjoys a three-stroke lead over Art Hall and four over Ken Fisher.
The leader of the 70-over group is Dick Harper with a 75. Don Partridge is second with a 78.