It started out as a golf tournament and turned into a marathon at the Greater Greenville Ladies Golf Association’s Championship played at Carolina Springs.
Lea Venable earned her fifth Greenville County championship by outlasting Christ Church High School golfer Peyton Gillespie in a ten hole playoff.
The Greenville Country Club golfer could have won the tournament in regulation, but a pair of bogeys in the last three holes left her with a 3-under par 69.
Bagwell, who held the lead going into the final round needed some final hole heroics to catch Gillespie and force a playoff.
“I needed to hit my best drive of the day on the final hole and I did,” said Venable. “Without that shot it would have been over and we wouldn’t have needed a playoff,” she said.
Venable was able to pitch her second shot to within three feet of the pin. She was able to convert the putt for an eagle-3 on the par-5 finishing hole to force her way into a playoff.
The two golfers started the playoff on the same 18th hole. Venable had to scramble from the trees to salvage a par while Gillespie’s third shot left her with a 5 foot birdie putt.
Gillespie’s putt drifted away from the hole and missed a great chance to win.
“I thought it was over,” said Venable. “I was putting my putter cover on and picking up my wedge. I was ready to congratulate her. I had that putt for my eagle earlier and I knew it could be tricky,” she said.
As the playoff went on, hole after hole, it was rare for either golfer to have an advantage. The only time Venable had a chance to end the playoff was on the 14th hole.
Gillespie needed a 25 foot par putt from off the green while Venable was in position for a two putt par and the victory.
Instead, Gillespie made her long putt and the playoff continued.
“I just knew it was going in. As soon as I hit it, I said it was going in and that kept m e in the playoff,” said Gillespie.
The two golfers played number 18 for the third time in the round. It finally was the deciding hole as Venable again hit a near perfect pitch to within 18 feet of the pin. Gillespie missed the green with her approach shot and her pitch from the fringe came up short.
The young golfers birdie putt missed and was forced to settle for a par. Venable was able roll in her putt to claim the marathon victory back on the 18th hole where the playoff began.
“I have to give Peyton a lot of credit, she never blinked out there. She played great. No doubt this was the toughest tournament of the five I have won,” said Venable.
Gillespie seemed oblivious to the pressure of the situation or the fact that she was playing a four-time champion. She always seemed to be in complete control of her game.
“I just knew I had to grind it out. I’ve been in the last group a few times, but I’ve never been in a playoff like this,” said the runner-up. “I played well and I hope the experience I got will help me in other tournaments,” added Gillespie.
The win by Venable marked a major change in her preparation for tournament play.
“I’ve never been big on just hitting balls, but this time I did some short game work and it paid off. I guess I may have found something that works for me,” she said.
Venable will next play with Malory Hetzel in the CGA Women’s Four-Ball at The Falls at Keowee Valley.
“I needed to play in a tournament that had pressure. I am sure it will help me at the four-ball,” said the champion.
Bella Harris finished in third place with a 36 hole total of 145 while former champion Pam Prescott shot a final round 76 for a two day total of 149 and fourth place.
In addition to recognizing the overall champion several golfers earned special recognition. Gillespie won the Young Amateur award. Prescott won the Mid-Am division’s top finisher.
Susan Dauber won the Senior Division title and Jane Webb was the Super Senior championship.
The organization honored Jerrie DeAngeles who was retiring from the board after serving for over 30 years. DeAngeles helped begin the Ladies Golf Association.
The Holly Tree Country Club can claim to have the best golfers in the Upstate. Yancey Johnson won the Greenville County Men’s Amateur. The club also won the Grady Allison Award at the men’s tournament. The award goes to the club with golfers who have posted the best rounds of the event.
Categories: Upstate Amateur Golf