By Don Thames
Rancho Murieta Country Club Head Golf Pro
Todd Bold and Steve Sutley won the 2016 Prospector Invitational last weekend over a field of 66 determined member/guest teams at the Country Club. They triumphed in a two-hole sudden death playoff over Paul Wilson/Dave Smith and Tom Barentson/Tim Driver. A throng of spectators swarmed the green in celebration when Steve Sutley made a four-foot putt for par and the victory.
The match play format for the event called for two teams from each of the 11 flights to square off in the derby for the title. These 22 teams battled through a qualifying heat and in the end four teams advanced to the finals starting on the 17th hole of the North Course.
Todd Bold/Steve Sutley, Paul Wilson/Dave Smith, Tom Barentson/Tim Driver and Tom Shechuk/Jimmy Fox met on the 17th tee ready to do battle. Shewchuk/Fox were eliminated on the 17th after missing a short putt for a 5. Tom Barentson had already drained a 10-footer for a birdie while the other two teams were safely in with 4's.
In regulation play, all three teams made 5's and returned to the 18th tee for the first hole of sudden death. Todd Bold rifled a 295-yard bullet right down the center of the fairway. Tom Barentson and Dave Smith also came through under the gun as both players split the fairway. Paul Wilson hit the finest shot of the derby by smashing a three wood to 11 feet from 228 yards. Undeterred by the pressure, Sutley and Driver both found the green with their approach shots. After their opponents narrowly missed their birdie attempts, Dave Smith stood over his 11-footer for the victory. His bid for birdie and the title slid by the edge and the hole was halved with pars. All three teams once again returned to the 18th tee with the tournament in the balance.
Todd Bold, right, and Steve Sutley, background, survived a sudden-death battle of nerves. Photo: Carole Thames
It was déjà vu all over again as Bold, Barentson and Smith all pelted long majestic tee shots right down the middle of the fairway. For the first time in the derby finals, pressure seemed to take a toll. Tim Driver scuffed a fairway metal left into the trees. Barentson could only advance the ball back into the fairway. Their ultimate score of 6 earned them a third-place finish.
The approach shots played by Sutley and Wilson ended up in a similar position beyond the bunker and in the light rough just off the right side of the green. Seemingly reluctant to chip, Dave Smith elected the services of his trusty Texas wedge. Smith stroked the ball aggressively and ran it some 35 feet past the hole. The stage was set for Todd Bold. What seemed like a straightforward chip shot was nothing of the sort for Bold. A similar shot had sealed Todd’s fate in the 2015 Prospector. With demons blaring, Todd dug deep for calm. He collected his thoughts, took a deep breath and played the chip shot of his life. The resulting 60-foot chip shot nestled to within four feet of the cup. After Paul Wilson’s last-gasp effort veered off line, Steve Sutley lined up his four-footer for the win. He would not miss. The 2016 Prospector belonged to Todd Bold and Steve Sutley.
In other shenanigans, Paul Miller won the putting championship, Josh and Bob Twist shut out Jeff Coeur and Alan DeLisle in the Corn Hole Tournament and the Shoot-Out was won by Steve and Stefan Von Seeger.