By Larry Fleming
John Darr and Rick Luzar finished what they started.
The two shot a closing 6-under 66 on Friday and breezed to the Clay Dykes Invitational championship in record fashion, blowing away defending champions Jerry Hudgins and Mike Rice by 11 shots at The Farm golf course in Rocky Face.
Darr and Luzar, who like Hudgins and Rice in 2008 led from start to finish, posted a 54-hole score of 191, breaking the old record of 196 set by Bill Ploeger and Rice in 2002.
“We survived,” the 62-year-old Luzar, who is from Pinehurst, N.C., said as he approached the scoreboard. It was a cruel joke for the rest of the field.
In actuality, they squashed all challenges over the three days and golfers leaving the course on Thursday said the other 14 championship flight teams were playing for second place.
Darr and Luzar, who finished fifth in their first CDI appearance last year, opened this year’s tournament with a 10-under 62, which is probably another record. They followed that up with a 9-under 63 on Day 2.
After cooling off and posting just two birdies on the front side Friday, Darr and Luzar birdied the first five holes on the back nine and then coasted to the convincing victory.
Their 19-under 125 through 36 holes set up an easy closing round.
“We knew we were pretty far ahead,” said Darr, also 62 and from Gainesville, Fla.
The champions found the par-72, 6,487-yard course was set up as difficult on Friday as it had been all week.
“This course shows you so many things that it’s hard to figure out what to do,” Darr said. “Some places you can’t put the ball, and we did a pretty good job of that all week. There are some places out there that if you hit there you’re cooked. It’s a challenge for sure.”
Darr and Luzar were up to the challenge, though.
Shaking off the slow start on a cloudy, cool day, the twosome “cranked it up” on the back side with a birdie binge that sealed the ninth CDI title.
“We were 7-under through 14,” said Luzar, who has five holes-in-one during his amateur golf career, four coming in tournament play. “We were 1-over the rest of the way.”
They made their only bogey on their 53rd hole, the par-4, 411-yard 17th.
“We had a great week together,” Luzar said.
Rice and Hudgins matched the 66 of Darr and Luzar and finished at 202, one shot over the 201 that earned them last year’s CDI championship. Rice and Hudgins took second in a scorecard playoff with Ron Waeghe and Tom Blank (68).
Joe Whisenant and Ken Benson closed with a 4-under 68 and finished fourth at 204 while Bill Blalock and Ron Russell ended with an even-par 72 for 10-under 206.
In the second flight, Pete Malcom and Joe Brogdon shot 4-under 68, the flight’s lowest score of the day, to win by two shots over Nick Kirkland and Ron Hunter (69 for 210). The solid round was highlighted by Malcom’s rare double-eagle on the par-5, 483-yard 12th hole.
“I’ve had four holes-in-one but that’s the first double-eagle I’ve ever made,” said Malcom, who is from Duluth. “I retired that golf ball to the bag, knowing that creek was coming up on the next hole.”
Malcom said he used a 5-iron with a high fade for the spectacular shot, which rolled almost off the green but came back and fell into the cup.
David Mansfield and Gary Brock, who had a one-shot lead after a 4-under 68 (139) on Thursday, were 1-over 73 on Friday and finished at 212 in third place. Billy Hatton and Scott Northey shot even-par 72 for 213 and fourth place. Frank Costanzo and Tom Rood also shot 72 for 214 and rounded out the top five.
It took three playoff holes for A.C. Cooper and C.W. Mayes to beat Charles Dean and Urquit Morris for the third flight title. Both teams finished at 212. Morris and Dean shot a closing 6-under 66 to pull into a tie with Cooper and Mayes.
Chris Demarco and David Bennett (72) took third place at 215 by winning a scorecard playoff with Al Everett and Jack Manton (72). Bill Andrus and Ken Stewart shot 5-under 67 for 217 and fifth place.
Lanny Bailey and Tom Miller skied to 3-over 75, but still ended with a 1-under 215, the division’s only sub-par card, to win the fourth flight. Bill Patrick and Mike Steed (75) were second four shots behind the winners. Hal Long and Terry Evans (77) claimed third place at 227, Bill Rogers and Mike Chambless (74) were fourth at 228 and Herm Plybon and Randy Rowland (81) were fifth at 229.
Charlie Busbee and Paul Cobb Jr. had a 2-under-70 for 209 and won the super senior flight by two shots over Dan Wood and Max Mathews (69) at 211.