The outcome of the 2016 PING Challenge Cup came down to the very last hole on Wednesday, September 21. It was the 7th playing of the team event for the PGA of Ottawa where the players are chosen from the points leaderboard of the Flagstick.com Players Tour and supplemented with two sponsor’s picks. It was contested at the Greyhawk Golf Club in Cumberland, Ontario – on the east side of Ottawa.
Both sides featured strong teams this year and the expectation was for a tough and tight competition. It certainly turned out that way.
The day began with 9 hole Better-Ball matches and by the end of it, there were three points on the board for both the Head Professionals and Assistant Professionals.
In the second format, 9 holes of alternate shot, the Assistant professionals snuck past their counterparts by a tally of 3.5 to 2.5, a margin that would prove valuable at the end of the day.
In the singles matches, where twelve points were up for grabs, the Head Pros did their best to regain a foothold and they did so with two early wins by Chris Barber of The Landings, and Marc Foucault of Kingsway Park.
That push was diminished, however, with big points on the board by Adam Miller of Smiths Falls G&CC, and Bill Minkhorst of Prescott GC.
It was a back and forth affair in the middle matches eventually leading to just one match remaining on the Talon course at Greyhawk. Rookie J.C. Beecroft of Royal Ottawa GC was facing veteran Graham Gunn of the Graham Gunn Advantage Golf School. Gunn would need to win to create a 12-12 tie on the day to retain the cup for his Head pro team, the two-time defending champions.
The two players were all square through 17 holes, only left to face the long, crescent-shaped par five closer at Talon. While Gunn managed to cosy up a long birdie putt for a par concession, Beecroft positioned himself nicely to leave about a 7 foot putt for birdie. Knowing he needed at least a half for the win, he calmly rolled in the putt to give his team a 12.5 to 11.5 victory a 4 -3 lead in the all-time series.
‘To have this event come down to the last hole, with the last match on the golf course, was a fitting ending to a great day,” said winning Honorary Captain Scott MacLeod of Flagstick, the presenting sponsors of the challenge. “All 24 players played well all day long and we’re very happy to be able to regain the PING Challenge Cup. A big thanks goes out to all the players who took the time to play, to Dany Lacombe and his team at Greyhawk for hosting, and to Andre Borys and Dave Wilson of PING Canada for supporting it as the title sponsor.”
The members of the winning Assistant Professionals team included: Lee Curry, Tim Sewter, Adam Miller, Bill Minkhorst, Jake Haime, Shawn Banfield, John Kelly, Paul Vaillancourt, J.C. Beecroft, Dave McDonald, Colin Pitchers, and Marc-Andre Piette. Scott MacLeod of Flagstick was the Captain.
The Head Professionals competing included: Chris Barber, Marc Foucault, Bill Keating, Gord Percy, Scott Mikkelsen, Colin Orr, Chris Learmonth, John Watson, Graham Gunn, Dany Lacombe, Dan McNeely, and Kevin Haime. They were captained by Jeff Bauder of Flagstick.