After nine holes on Sunday, David Trier of Stow was fully in command of his game, and fully in command of the 2014 Chippewa Championship.
His front nine score of 2-under par 34 had stretched his lead to a whopping six shots.
He hadn’t missed a shot all day. He was calm and composed. He looked like a walk-away champion.
But then the Black Cat stuff started.
Trier had blown a lead many years ago in this same event when he made a big number at the treacherous 15th hole. Afterwards, his Dad said he was David’s ‘black cat’ for showing up to watch right before the blowup. Even though David has won a number of different events since that time, the nickname (and its derivative, ‘Kitten’) has stuck.
So when David went to hit his birdie putt on the 11th and the ball moved after he addressed it, he took it in stride (and wouldn’t take the suggestion of his playing partners who didn’t see it move). But after replacing it and taking the penalty, he missed the par putt. Bad luck.
Then on the 12th he struggled to a double after hitting his tee shot left.
On the 14th, he made a three-putt bogey.
Suddenly the comfortable lead was down to two shots and he was facing his old nemesis, the dastardly 15th.
A drop-kick pulled tee shot to the left rough made for a tough second shot that hit the green but bounded over the back. A flippy wedge onto the green left 18 feet straight down the hill. An aggressive first putt went further past the hole than where he started. Double bogey. Demons.
Meanwhile, Allen Freeman had pretty much just hung around all day. A bunch of pars surrounded a couple of bogeys and birdies. But suddenly, after all of Trier’s back-nine mojo-mashers, the two were tied. On to 16.
David summoned a great second shot out of the right rough to 4-feet below the hole, a perfect iron that left him with a putt straight up the hill. Freeman answered from the fairway with a gap wedge to 9-feet above. Both players made their birdies. Over to 17.
Freeman hit the green but was 35-feet short-left of the hole. Trier went pin-high left but on the fringe. Freeman rolled his birdie effort to two feet and marked. Then Trier hit his first putt from 30-feet and it went past the hole and rolled out to four-feet. But he center-cut the comeback putt.
That’s when Freeman black-catted himself, talking himself out of the tap-in then missing the four-foot comebacker, too.
Trier and Freeman both made bogey at the stretched-out last, as Trier used his two shot lead to play it smart all the way in. So after dozens of attempts, Trier overcame some bad breaks and mistakes on the back nine to earn his first win in the Chippewa Championship. And earned it was.
Trier finished at 145 for the tournament, three over par.
Mike Simpson tied Freeman for second place, posting a solid 72 on Sunday to finish at 147.
Malone College grad Jon Clark (right) finished solo fourth one shot behind that at 148, and recent Summit County and Cleveland Am champ Howard Clendenin grabbed fifth place by posting a second round 72 to finish at 149.
It was a lot of fun.
Special thanks as always to tournament host Kevin Larizza, who with his staff once again ran a fantastic event. The golf course was set up exactly as Kevin said it would be: tough but fair. Play moved along well, a worthy champion was crowned, and Bernie’s pork expertly prepared by legend Dave Chapple was a perfect end to the summer tournament season.
(And Kevin, good job on showing that wedge who’s boss, too.)
Sunday Photo Gallery here. Complete scores and skins results below…
2014 Chippewa Championship
Chippewa Golf Club, Doylestown, Ohio
August 23 – 24, 2014 | Par 71
$50 BIG SKINS:
John Topeka #2 Sun (2)- $254
Bob Berkheimer #3 Sun (3)- $254
Tommy Li #5 Sun (3)- $254
Chris Helaney #12 Sun (2)- $254
Shane Bishop #14 Sun (3)- $254
Justin McGrath #15 Sun (3)- $254
Dave Trier #7 Sat (2)- $254
Mike Simpson #10 Sat (3)- $254
Dave Trier #11 Sat (3)- $254
Dave Trier #12 Sat (2)- $254
Randy Skorman #16 Sat (3)- $254
Ty Kovach #15 Sat (3)- $254
$20 TWO-DAY SKINS:
Bob Berkheimer #3 (3)- $315
Tommy Li #5 (3)- $315
Mike Simpson #10 (3)- $315
Dave Trier #7 (2)- $315