If there is a golf god, there almost certainly has to be a golf devil!
Mike Hartin finished the first round of the 51st J.P. Traynham Invitational at the Paris Mountain Country Club with all 6s on his scorecard.
The mark of the beast in ancient lore.
Hartin carded a 6-under par round which added up to a 66 and that score gave the 2017 Traynham champion a 6-shot lead.
6-6-6 and an extra 6 just in case.
The first round leader was sailing along in the final round until he got to the ninth hole and the golf devil found him.
“I really was still playing well,” said Hartin. “I was two-under, but then on number nine I had some problems,'” he said.
Hartin missed his short put on the hole and then followed up with a little tap in, but his putt horseshoed the hole. Certainly with a some frustration, after missing the short putt, his next putt did the same thing, another horseshoe.
“I lost a couple of shots and I started to think, here we go and it wasn’t going to be good,” he said.
It might not have been as big a problem for Hartin if Adam Black, the defending champion, wasn’t playing so well.
Black was slowly cutting into Hartin’s lead and by the time the two reached the final hole he had the lead by a shot.
Black blasted a driver on the par-4 finishing hole, but it strayed well off the fairway into some woods and brush setting off a search for his ball.
Hartin used an iron off the tee and put his ball in perfect position for the approach.
While Black hunted his ball, Hartin’s second shot ended up on the back of the green, easily in two putt par range.
Black found his ball, chipped out of the brush and around a tree back into the fairway. He needed another chip to get on the green.
“When I found it I only could punch it out,” said Black. “I knew I was probably looking at a tie and a playoff,” he said.
But once again the golf devil showed up. Hartin could not convert his par and Black put an end to things making his putt to win by two-shots.
“It isn’t easy playing with a big lead,” said Hartin. “When I came out today I thought if I could shoot par it would be pretty hard to get caught, but I wasn’t able to do that,” he said.
Black grew up on the course near his home. Last year his goal was to finally win the event on his old home course. This year his goal was to be a repeat champion.
“This course is special because of growing up here and playing high school golf here, so to back up last year’s win with another was a goal and I’m pretty happy to win it again,” he said.
The 2020 Traynham champion Michael Powell finished in third place a shot behind Hartin.
Ron Clontz repeated as the J.P. Traynham Invitational Senior champion. The other back to back winner at the event shot rounds of 74 and 69 for a 143 total to finish in front of three-time Traynham Champion Johnny League.
Flight winners included: First Flight – Jeremy Revis, Second Flight – Scotty Scott, Third Flight – Jimmy Wilson. Senior First Flight – Derrick Henderson, Second Flight – Whitney Grumbles.
Categories: Upstate Amateur Golf