Brian Quackenbush finally hit the shot exactly like he wanted to with a 5-iron on the 18th hole, the 12th hole of a playoff, where he and tournament director Bo McCullough traded shots during the championship flight of the Aiken Amateur Golf Championship on Sunday at the Aiken Golf Club.
The two golfers ended up tied at the end of regulation at 2-under par, and the fifth time proved to be the charm for the 41-year-old golfer, who had previously played professionally on the minitour.
“I got in there and hit one left, right, right and right, and then I finally hit one straight,” said Quackenbush, who played the 18th hole five times, once in regulation and four times during the playoff. “I got in there close enough to make it.”
The golfers took part in a 4-hole playoff, where they remained tied before going to a sudden-death format. Quackenbush prevailed, but both golfers had steely determination that factored into their play during the final round and playoff.
Quackenbush has been in a number of playoffs – several went for a number of holes – but he can’t recall one that was longer than the playoff he participated in on Sunday.
“It was nice that we’re out there and having a good time,” said Quackenbush. “(McCullough’s) a good guy. It didn’t surprise me at all that Bo came in there with a nice, steady second round. It didn’t surprise me that he kept on slugging them in there close and making birdies and pars. I knew it was going to be tough as consistent as he is. He’s a good putter, too.”
A disciplined approach and taking his round-one shot at a time helped Quackebush with his focus going into the playoff after consecutive bogeys on 15 and 16 during regulation.
“It took me four or five holes to get back into that mentality that you tend to have when you’re playing for a living,” said Quackenbush, who retired from the minitour in 2007 after an injury. “What you tend to do is get really shot-focused. It’s whatever is in front of you. I had a couple of really rough holes where I missed 4-footers at 15 and 16 because I was getting ahead of myself and thinking outside of the shot in hand. It took me four or five holes to get back into that mentality during the playoff.”
Both players found themselves in the zone during the extended round, and made a number of clutch putts to keep the tournament from ending .
The pin placements on the last few holes were challenging, and McCullough took the approach of trying to hit the ball close, in order to be able to make his putts.
“You couldn’t be real aggressive (because of the pin placements), but I tried to be aggressive as I could be without blowing the ball by the hole. It was fun. Brian and I are friends, and I enjoy seeing him win. I’m not disappointed in losing because I played hard all weekend.”
John Hamilton defeated Nick Walker in a one-hole playoff to capture the senior flight championship. Walker won the honors in 2011, and Hamilton was the senior flight champion in 2010.