Championship Sunday. Watson Challenge. What a day of golf.
After a few shakeups on the leaderboard on Moving Day Saturday, the leaderboard remained tight throughout the final day of competition. If you wanted to shoot low on Championship Sunday, you had to earn it.
Many players saw some risks pay off on the front nine as birdies seemed to be easier to find. The back nine, however; made players work for it. The lowest round of the day came in at 69 (-3) by Ryan Zech. Tom Watson carded the second lowest round on the day with a 70 (-2). Tom Watson’s final round of competition saw some great iron play, highlighted by just one bogey and three birdies on the day.
Andy Spencer, defending Watson Challenge Champion, began the day in the top spot by two strokes over Robert Russell and again got off to a hot start on the front nine. Spencer birdied two of the first five holes and saw his lead increase to three strokes at one point. However, Spencer ended his front nine with a bogey, double bogey to fall to second place behind Tyler Docking, who rose to 9-under after incredibly birdying Holes 2-6.
Spencer wouldn’t falter anymore after that and birdied the Par-3, 15th to get his lead back to 8-under and two strokes over Tom Watson heading to the 16th tee. As the pressure mounted on Spencer to try to close it out, Watson ended his round with a near eagle putt on the 18th green to add a little excitement in the gallery. He would go on to make his birdie putt and close the gap to just one stroke.
It was up to Spencer to continue his great play all tournament and finish with at least a par on the Par-5, 18th to defend his Watson Challenge title. After hitting a great drive in the right side of the fairway, Spencer would hit his second shot just a little right of the green in the short fringe near a storm drain. As hundreds of spectators gathered around to see whether the Watson Challenge would have a playoff or not, Spencer chipped on about 15 feet passed the hole. After nearly sinking his birdie putt, Spencer would tap in for par to defeat Tom Watson and become the 2018 Watson Challenge Champion.
It was such a great weekend of golf and great to see so many out there watching and enjoying the game. Mr. Tom Watson played a great tournament and nearly won his 6th Watson Challenge title. Andy Spencer worked his way to the top of the leaderboard with his great play and earned his title as this year’s champion for the second year in a row with a 70-66-72, 208 total tournament score. Spencer is the only player besides Watson to win back to back Watson Challenge titles.
The Watson Challenge is one the KCGA’s favorite events every year, and we love what it does for the game of golf. We hope to see just as many spectators and fans of the game out there next year at the 2019 Watson Challenge. Thank you to Shadow Glen for hosting a great tournament and for the impeccable course they gave up for the weekend to hold this event. Also a big thank you to all the volunteers from the First Tee, Shadow Glen Membership, and our KCGA Rules Officials for all their time and effort this past weekend. Without you, we couldn’t do what we do.
For pictures and video of the entire weekend, please see our KCGA Facebook page.
Full field of results, see here.
By Taylor Albritton, KCGA Intern