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Wildwood’s Ridgway takes 54th Tournament of Champions in playoff

 CAPE MAY CT. HOUSE, N.J. — Home-club hopeful James Ridgway dispatched Matthew Teesdale of Commonwealth National GC in a sudden-death playoff to take the 54th Tournament of Champions at a cool Wildwood G&CC (par 71, 6,358 yards) Monday. The Cape May, N.J. resident parred the first playoff hole (No. 1, par 4, 410 yards) while Teesdale three-putted for bogey. Both players, as well as Robert Bechtold of Loch Nairn GC), carded 1-over-par 72s in regulation. Bechtold was unavailable for the playoff.

 “It feels great,” Ridgway, 23, said. “I had an opportunity to look at some of the other names on the trophy. From guys like Jay Sigel to awesome players like Tom Gramigna and Chris Lange, just to name a few, it’s nice to have your name on a trophy with players of that caliber. I was lucky enough to have it at my home club and to play pretty good. It’s nice to win something that has such a rich history.”

  In the playoff, Teesdale, 20, of Maple Glen, Pa., pushed his drive into the right rough. With a challenging sidehill lie, he blasted his approach 165 yards to 45 feet below the hole. Ridgway found the fairway off the tee and struck a 9-iron 142 yards to 20 feet. He ran his birdie effort to a foot while Teesdale missed a nine-footer to save par on the high side.

  Perhaps familiarity eased Ridgway’s nerves entering the playoff. It certainly played a factor in regulation.

  “Home-course advantage felt good. It definitely helped on the greens especially,” Ridgway said. “I had it going early but let a few slide coming in, which was definitely a disappointment. I thought I could’ve gone pretty low.”

  Double bogeys on a pair of par 3s dampened Ridgway’s red-figure aspirations. On No. 10 (200 yards), he missed the green with a 4-iron. Ridgway only advanced his golf ball three feet on the ensuing chip. He reached the green on his third stroke and lipped out a six-footer to save bogey. On No. 16 (126 yards), Ridgway again missed the green, this time with a gap wedge. He lofted a chip to 12 feet and three-putted.

  The miscues mangled an otherwise outstanding effort. Ridgway fired four birdies on his outward tour. He pulverized a 5-iron 180 yards to 20 feet on No. 2 (par 5, 463 yards) and cozied his eagle try to inches. With 145 yards into the No. 4 (par 4, 375 yards) flagstick, Ridgway stopped a smooth 8-iron at 10 feet. He hit a wedge 130 yards to 12 feet. He smashed a 6-iron 170 yards to 30 feet on No. 9 (par 4, 395 yards) and converted the right-to-left breaker.

  “I just read it right and ended up making it,” Ridgway said. “It was a little bit of a bomb.”

  Following his double bogey on No. 10, Ridgway found redemption by posting back-to-back birdies on Nos. 12 (par 5, 502 yards) and 13 (par 4, 407 yards). He used course knowledge wisely on the first, flighting his drive over the left-side trees and onto the No. 11 fairway. With a somewhat direct angle into the dogleg left, Ridgway hit an 8-iron 160 yards downwind to 20 feet and watched his eagle effort burn the left edge. He stuffed a full 5-iron 170 yards to a foot on the 13th hole and swept in the birdie putt.

  “It felt like I was off to the races,” he said. “It didn’t work out that way.”

  Ridgway graduated from Saint Joseph’s University this past May with a major in pharmaceutical marketing. He played for the Hawks golf team, once carding two aces in a day during a 2007 tournament at Springdale CC.

  Like Ridgway, two back nine holes spoiled Teesdale’s scorecard. He registered consecutive bogeys on Nos. 16 (par 3, 126 yards) and 17 (par 4, 406 yards) thanks to a balky putter. He had moved to 1 under after an eagle on the 12th hole, where Teesdale powered a 6-iron 185 yards to seven feet. He also found three red figures on the front nine. Teesdale guided a wedge 20 yards to a foot on No. 2 (par 5, 46 yards). He smacked a sand wedge 95 yards to six feet on No. 6 (par 4, 362 yards); and one 87 yards to 25 feet on No. 7 (par 4, 368 yards). Teesdale dropped a right-to-left breaker in the heart.

  “I just tried to keep it in play,” he said. “My misses were left today, so on the holes where I had trouble left, I just pulled out a 4-iron. It really wasn’t that long of a course if you kept it down the middle.”

Senior Division

  Edward Enoch of Old York Road CC outlasted William Lawler of Fox Hill CC in a sudden-death playoff to win the Senior Division (par 71, 5,996 yards). Both players carded respective 1-over-par 72s in regulation.

  “It’s nice to win a golf tournament,” a humbled Enoch said. “I haven’t won many golf tournaments in my life. To win one in this fashion is pretty exciting.”

  What unfolded in the playoff was exciting or better yet, unbelievable. Both players halved the first hole with pars. Enoch’s drive on No. 2 (par 5, 455 yards) took shelter underneath a pine tree. With a crouch stance, he swatted at his golf ball, advancing it 30 yards. Enoch’s third shot caught the right greenside bunker. Lawler, meanwhile, pitched it to two feet and had a seemingly gimmee for birdie. Enoch, 57, of Lansdale, Pa., showed his mettle by blasting out to four feet and saving par. Lawler, the 2006 Senior Player of the Year, tried to ram his birdie putt, but it looped around the jar.

  Enoch stayed in survival mode on No. 3 (par 3, 130 yards). As Lawler executed a routine par, Enoch flubbed a chip from the rear of the green, and then proceeded to chip-in for a matching 3. He seized victory on the next hole (par 4, 355 yards). Lawler’s second shot clipped a branch, which allowed Enoch to keep a one-stroke edge and to card a safe bogey.

  Enoch carded three birdies — all 10-footers — against four bogeys in regulation. He hit a lob wedge 25 yards on No. 2 (par 5, 455 yards); a pitching wedge 130 yards on No. 7 (par 4, 340 yards) and an 8-iron 150 yards on No. 8 (par 4, 375 yards). Troubling three-putts on Nos. 1 (par 4, 392 yards) and 15 (par 5, 498 yards) created bogeys. Enoch stood at even entering the 18th hole (par 4, 365 yards), but couldn’t hold it intact after a poor drive forced a punch-out.

  Tournament golf isn’t commonplace for Enoch. He may think twice now with a new title on his belt.

  “My job keeps me busy, and I’m really not that good of an amateur golfer,” Enoch, a sales representative, said. “I was just fortunate to win the Senior Championship at Old York Road.”

  In regulation, Lawler, 64, of West Wyoming, Pa., first inked red following back-to-back birdies on Nos. 11 (par 4, 360 yards) and 12 (par 5, 470 yards). He drilled a 7-iron 147 yards to 15 feet on the first. Lawler cleared the No. 12 water hazard with a 180-yard hybrid shot and executed an up-and-down birdie. He veered his tee shot out-of-bounds on No. 13 (par 4, 387 yards), which led to a double bogey.

  Lawler won the 2003 edition at Cedarbrook CC, which earned him an annual exemption.

  “This is a wonderful event. I look forward to it every year,” Lawler said.

  Open to current Member Club amateur champions, senior amateur champions and previous winners, the Tournament of Champions was initiated in 1962 in memory of Larry Malmed. The Association then accepted the event in 1984 after Al Porter, the tournament’s coordinator, was forced to retire due to illness. The Association also added a senior division in 1992.

Results
Amateur Division
Name Club Scores
*James Ridgway Wildwood Golf & Country Club 72
Matthew Teesdale Commonwealth National Golf Club 72
Robert Bechtold Loch Nairn Golf Club 72
Frank Rapone The Springhaven Club 73
Robert Bass Sandy Run Country Club 73
John Brennan Spring Ford Country Club 74
Richard Umani Honeybrook Golf Club 74
Thomas Hyland Little Mill Country Club 74
Bryan Marvin Old York Road Country Club 75
Scott McNeil Philadelphia Publinks GA 75
Andrew Strock Makefield Highlands Golf Club 76
Bill Neiswender Bala Golf Club 76
Brian Rothaus Five Ponds Golf Club 76
Michael Quinn Edgmont Country Club 77
Anthony Ventura Greate Bay Country Club 78
Jeff Klagholz Applebrook Golf Club 78
Rich Pruchnik West Chester Golf & Country Club 78
Bill Boyle Metedeconk National Golf Club 79
Cameron Campbell McCall Golf & Country Club 79
Thomas Soares Lehigh Country Club 79
Brian Sexton Seaview Resort & Spa 82
Rich Thon The Springhaven Club 82
Dave Franklin Sand Barrens Golf Club 87
Glenn Smeraglio Mercer Oaks Golf Course WD
Peter Barron, III Stone Harbor Golf Club WD
Name Club Scores
*Edward Enoch Old York Road Country Club 72
William Lawler Fox Hill Country Club 72
Don Donatoni White Manor Country Club 75
Rich Thon The Springhaven Club 75
Bennett Meyer Philmont Country Club 76
Michael Rose Meadowlands Country Club 76
Alan Van Horn Sandy Run Country Club 77
Michael Quinn Edgmont Country Club 77
Thomas Hyland Little Mill Country Club 77
Andy Muzyka Hersheys Mill Golf Club 78
Martin Klagholz Aronimink Golf Club 79
Robert Ockenfuss Indian Valley Country Club 79
David Martin Five Ponds Golf Club 80
Mike Owsik Philadelphia Publinks GA 80
Rick Bunn McCall Golf & Country Club 80
Roc Irey Lookaway Golf Club 80
David Shevlin Trump National Golf Club – Philadelphia 81
Jeffrey Brown West Chester Golf & Country Club 81
Brian Corbett Huntsville Golf Club 82
Gary Stout Mercer Oaks Golf Course 83
Mike Grey Sand Barrens Golf Club 83
Dick Haines Golden Pheasant Golf Club 84
Marlin Detweiler Lancaster Country Club 85
Neil McDermott Llanerch Country Club 85
Ronald Pogue Limekiln Golf Club 85
Basil Maher Metedeconk National Golf Club 86
Kevin Mahoney Merchantville Country Club 86
Bruce Rappoport Wildwood G&CC 87
Archie Struthers Greate Bay Country Club 88
Buzz Rothweiler Honeybrook Golf Club 88
Russell Amen, Jr. Coatesville Country Club 89
Donald Crichton Makefield Highlands Golf Club NS
James Prendergast Gilbertsville Golf Club WD
* – won in playoff
NS – no show; WD – withdrawal