It took 22 holes of golf to decide the 86th Pine to Palm championship with a missed putt to halve by Rick Kuhn finally ending the match on the fourth extra hole to give Jackson Foth of Kansas the title.
Foth captured the championship in his second appearance at the tournament.
“I’m glad I won it the second time instead of my first time because I don’t think I understood how big of a deal it was up here,” he said.
Foth’s play on Sunday was similar to how he has hit all week using a steady drive to the fairway and hitting greens in regulation.
“I just wanted to keep playing my game; I’ve been playing pretty steady all week and just not give away any holes. I did a pretty good job of that,” he said.
Greens were less than perfect but when he needed to he found a way to get the ball to drop.
“I didn’t putt it well, but I struck it well and had a couple of key saves late,” said Foth.
Kuhn was a human highlight reel, which is indicative of how he plays golf.
On the sixth hole, he skied an approach shot that should have been out of bounds, but it struck a tree flush and bounded back on to the green.
It was not the first time he messed with the foliage at Detroit Country Club.
“I do kind of hit it all over the place and recover pretty well,” said Kuhn. “I don’t make a lot of bogeys. I’ve got a pretty good short game so yeah, it’s pretty typical of me.”
Kuhn grabbed the early lead on a missed birdie putt by Foth on the first hole. Kuhn followed up with a birdie on the par-3, third hole to go 2-up. The players made the turn with Kuhn leading 1-up after Foth got a hole back with birdie on the par-4, seventh hole.
A Foth birdie on the par-5, 12th squared the match for the first time and Foth grabbed his first lead of the day on the par-4, 16th hole with a birdie.
The dramatics kicked in on the par-3, 17th. With Foth on the green with a makeable birdie, Kuhn was on the back fringe 45-feet from the hole. The 48-year-old drained the putt creating a big stir from the gallery to even the match.
“To be honest, I was not very surprised,” said Foth. “I knew he was due and I’ve played more guys with that two-ball putter that make more putts. It just seems like something about that thing makes long ones and I knew he was due for one.”
Foth kept his head about him while talk of the putt reverberated through the gallery back to the 18th green.
“I tried to not let anything surprise me because he’s a great player and he’s won this thing before,” said Foth.
Hole No. 18 was halved with pars and both players drilled approach shots on the first extra hole, a par-5 dogleg to the left, to set up eagle putts to win.
Of the two putts, Kuhn’s looked like it had a chance but stopped in front of the left edge.
“I had a couple of chances, a couple of putts that didn’t go in, but that’s the way it goes,” Kuhn said.
On the second extra hole, Foth found the green from the fairway while Kuhn recovered in the trees right with a stunning bump and run under a tree and rolled it up over the front lip of the green to put Foth out to putt first. Both players parred.
On the par-3, third extra hole each player missed a short putt to win.
Finally on hole No. 4, a par-4, the putters finally gave out. With heat and playing 40 holes of golf, including the morning semifinals, fatigue was not out of the question.
“Walking that many holes, for me, is tough. I’m 48-years-old, I’m not a kid anymore,” Kuhn said.
Foth was relieved and empathetic watching Kuhn’s putt miss to end the match.
“I did feel bad because it didn’t reflect how the match went, but overall I was just relieved,” he said.
Kuhn, a two-time champion, is undecided on whether he’ll continue to compete in the championship division or move on to Mid-Ams. In either division, watching Kuhn play is a treat.
“It was great; I had a blast and to play against a guy like that, he’s a good player,” Kuhn said.
Kuhn, from Bismarck, is an inductee this year to the North Dakota Golf Hall of Fame.
In the Mid-Am division, Perry Piatz repeated and captured his third championship - the most in the 10 years of Mid-Am play at the Pine to Palm. He defeated Scott Uithoven 2&1.
Craig Stein captured his first Seniors championship defeating Kent Spriggs 4&3.
David Andrisen defeated six-time Super Seniors champion Chuck Renner 3&2. It was Andrisen’s first title and likely the last time Renner will play at the Pine to Palm. He leaves the tournament having appeared in all nine championship matches.