Rollison winners discover pot of gold at end
The foursome of Scott Deatherage, Ron O’Connor, Dennis Stuth and Dan Gould found the proverbial pot of gold at the end of the rainbow Sunday afternoon.
The group stormed back in the second day of play in the 56th Annual Clive Rollison Memorial Golf Tournament at the Kankakee Country Club to claim the coveted trophy in the 17-team field. After starting eight strokes back of the lead following Saturday’s competition, the men rallied to finish with a 26-under par score and a six-stroke victory over the second-place team of Joe Wertz, Ken Williams, Brad Hove and Kent Frye.
After starting the day with just a glimmer of hope, Deatherage said victory came into the team’s sights over the last two holes, and there was a bit of irony in the situation.
“It started to rain as we came up 17, and by the time we teed it up on 18 it had stopped and the sun was out,” said Deatherage. “I told my guys to look for the pot of gold. I guess we found it on 18’s green.”
The threat of rain was evident on both days of the event, but that didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the participants. The high spirits were typified by the championship quartet, who didn’t wait until the back nine surge to express it.
“I told my guys on the first tee this morning (Sunday) that we were just down eight, and we weren’t out of it yet,” said Deatherage. “I’ve been playing in this tournament for years, and it’s near impossible to keep the lead wire-to-wire.”
Gould is someone else who has played in the Rollison for years. He was part of the second-place team in 1997, but had never tasted victory before this weekend.
“It came as such a pleasant surprise,” said Gould. “We were down so many after yesterday, so we were pretty relaxed. It seemed I couldn’t miss a putt for the first 13 holes, then I just turned it over to my teammates and we got the job done.”
O’Connor, who was part of the 2007 championship team, reacted to another win this way:
“We did O.K.,” he said. “Every par-three, we were making them. Usually those are the holes you end up giving back.”
Sunday’s action began with a tightly-packed field which did not include the ultimate winners. Ten teams were within six strokes of the lead, led by Robert Regas, John Avendano, George “Homer” Ryan, Jr, and Mike Scanlon, who held a one-shot edge.
The field wasn’t sorted out much through nine holes of play as four teams remained within two strokes of the lead. By the time, Ryan Magruder, Todd Dorn, Marc Naese, and Steve Smith set the bar at the a 25-under mark. Team Regas sat just a shot back.
But team Deatherage untied the knot with stellar play on the final nine. The foursome entered the clubhouse with a comfortable lead, but 10 teams were still on the course with a chance to rally.
By the time four teams were left on the course, word began to spread that the team led by Wertz was the only one with a chance to make a run at the leaders. But the team which finished second could pull no closer than three strokes, and the trophy was spoken for.
As the trophy changed hands, Matt Dwyer’s quest for a third straight Rollison crown ended. Last year, he became the first man to be the captain on back-to-back winning Rollison teams. His group finished in a tie for ninth this year after entering Sunday in a tie for fifth.
While every team wants to win the Rollison, there’s much more to the weekend’s two rounds than just the score. The atmosphere around the first tee is filled with the camaraderie and sportsmanship that one would expect from an event with such a prestigious pedigree. Every solid shot is rewarded with an accolade from those watching, whether a teammate or not.
“It’s simply the best way to spend a weekend,” said Bob Gessner, who played in the Rollison for his “16th or 17th, I forget” time.
“I look forward to this weekend all year,” said Gessner.
The tournament’s tradition also raised emotions. Kevin Pinksi was playing in his first Rollison since the death of his father, J.B. Pinski. Both men regularly participated in the tournament.
“The voices in my head were tough to battle today,” said Kevin Pinski. “There were five of us on my team out there today.”