John Parker knew he didn’t have any strokes to waste on the closing holes of the Festival of Flowers at The Patriot Golf Club. In fact he needed to pick up a couple of shots to catch up to the leader.
The Lander University golfer birdied the final two holes and hoped it was enough to at least tie for the lead and force a playoff.
“Did I win,” he asked one bystander after making his birdie putt on the final hole. “I didn’t have any idea how I finished,” said the new Festival of Flowers champion.
Parker started the final round tied with two other golfers for the lead. Parker, Jake Miller of Anderson University and Charlie Dallery of Gardner Webb each opened the 36 hole event with 3-under par rounds of 69.
Late in the final round Winthrop University golfer Michael McKee had worked his way into the lead from two shots off the pace. He made a pressure par putt on the 17th hole to hold the lead, but things changed on the next hole.
McKee’s tee shot on the long par 5 took a wicked kick off a fairway mound and rolled two feet out of bounds.
“I had a good line and could have gone for the green, but the ball was just a couple of feet out,” said McKee. “I had to scramble and ended up with a double bogey,” he said.
McKee finished with an even par round of 72 for a 143 total. His double opened the door for Parker and a golfer on the other side of the course.
The tournament used double tees in the final round. The leaders started on the front nine, competitors with a score of 76 or more in the first round started on number 10.
Thomas Todd of Laurens had a disappointing first round and started on the opposite side of the course from the leaders.
“I played alright, but I couldn’t get anything going,” said Todd. “The round just kind of got away from me and I ended up with a 76,” he said.
Without anyone paying much attention to Todd the Greenwood Invitational winner got on a roll early and carded the best round of the tournament, a 7-under par 65.
“I didn’t have any idea what the leaders were doing I just knew I played a lot better in the second round. After being seven shots back I wasn’t expecting to be in it,” said Todd who finished at 3-under par 141 for the tournament.
Parker didn’t know what McKee had shot and had no idea that Todd was in contention as he played the final two holes.
Parker rolled in a five foot birdie putt on the 17th hole. On the last hole, Parker hit a solid drive and his second shot from 275 yards landed just off the green.
“It was in great position for a chip and I hit a good one to set up my putt,” said Parker. “I had about five feet and felt pretty comfortable over the ball,” he said.
Parker nailed the short putt and celebrated with a fist pump, but still didn’t know if the putt won the tournament.
Parker’s instructor, long time Greenwood professional Tommy Pendley, told him he had won. He needed the last two birdies to finish one-shot in front of Todd with a 140 total.
“This is the first amateur win for me,” said Parker. “We had a great year at Lander last season and it was a lot of fun, but this is special to get a win on my own,” he said.
Robert Lutomski finished at 2-under par 142 to take third place while McKee finished at 1-under par in fourth place.
Walter Todd of Laurens won the senior division with rounds of 65 and 69 for a 134 total. Todd finished two shots in front of Gary Odom with John White in third place.
Flight winners included, First Flight – John Parker, Second Flight – Thomas Todd, Third Flight – Russell Gillig.