GW senior Ryan Day entered the 18th hole of the 36th R.H. Foster Energy/Mobil Paul Bunyan Amateur Golf Tournament with a two-stroke lead, just as he had started the final round June 19.
But, after a Day bogey and a birdie by second-place opponent Jay Plourd on the final hole, the two golfers – tied at even-par 141 through 36 holes – were forced to compete in a playoff to decide the winner of the tournament held in Bangor, Maine.
“I think I relaxed too much,” said Day, according to a Sports Information press release. “I took it for granted.”
Day bounced back from his bogey on 18, sinking a 3-foot par putt on the par-three eighth that was good enough to defeat Plourd and win the tournament on the second playoff hole.
Plourd and Day both had strong tee shots on the second playoff hole, but Plourd’s approach went long and stopped on the back fringe. Day’s shot stayed on the back right side of the green, short of the pin. Putting from the fringe, Plourd left his second shot considerably short, leaving him with a distant par putt he would eventually miss.
Day’s second shot for birdie and the match stopped just a few feet in front of the pin, but set the senior up for a tournament-clinching shot.
“I was kind of surprised it didn’t get there,” said Day, according to the press release. “I was glad it stayed within a couple of feet. It gave me a chance.”
Day took full advantage of the chance, an opportunity that was lost on the first playoff hole, the par-4 seventh. On the hole, Day’s drive landed in the middle of the fairway after Plourd’s first playoff shot hit the right rough. The senior’s approach stuck about ten feet from the cup while Plourd’s came up short of the green. Day’s third shot hung on the right edge, but wouldn’t fall. He would tap in on the next shot.
Following a third shot chip, which left Plourd with a four-foot shot similar to one he missed on the 18, Plourd withstood the pressure and sank it to force the second playoff.
“It crossed my mind for a second,” said Plourd, according to the press release. “Then I just said to myself to get up and hit it.”
The par-5 18th hole nearly became a disaster for Day, whose lead had reached four strokes earlier in the final round. Day’s second shot taken from 190 yards away and underneath a tree bounced off the hill beside the green and went out of bounds. On a second try, Day pulled his shot into the bunker.
“It wasn’t going out (of bounds) again, that’s for sure,” said Day, according to Sports Information. “At that point I didn’t care where it ended up. I figured I could get it up and down from anywhere.”
Day found his way out of the bunker with a stellar shot that left him with a bogey attempt two feet from the cup. Plourd had his chance to steal the tournament from Day with a difficult third shot eagle opportunity from behind the hole. But Plourd’s shot went left, leaving him with a birdie and a regulation tie.
Saturday’s play was cancelled due to rain.