With proven veterans such as Hale Irwin and Larry Nelson atop the leaderboard with one round remaining, many players might feel they’re playing for second or third.
Not Sammy Rachels and Dana Quigley.
The duo got to the clubhouse at 15-under-par 201 May 5 at the Bruno’s Memorial Classic at Greystone Golf & Country Club. Two playoff holes later, it was Rachels who prevailed for the championship.
Rachels (67) and Quigley (66) both birdied the first playoff hole – No. 18 – before Rachels made birdie at No. 17 for the title.
He holed the winning 9-foot putt after Quigley missed an 18-footer and tapped in for par.
Rachels raised his hands in the air an instant before his winning putt went in, then pumped his right fist as fans yelled, “You da man, Sammy!”
“It probably won’t get any better than this,” said Rachels, who was celebrating his 31st wedding anniversary with wife Pia.
Nelson (70) finished third at 202 and Irwin (70) was fourth at 203. Both were in the same group with Rachels.
Rachels, who birdied six of his final seven holes for a second-round 64 Saturday, didn’t notice Quigley climbing the leaderboard.
“I didn’t even know about Dana until I was on the 17th hole,” Rachels said.
“I looked over there and said, ‘Where’d he come from?’ ”
Rachels parred the final eight holes.
“I didn’t have to deal with any adversity out there,” Rachels said. “I don’t know what I would have done if (I) had.
There was nothing for me to think of other than keeping things going. . . . I was thinking, ‘Don’t mess up’ pretty regularly there at the end.”
Quigley caught Rachels with a birdie on the 17th in regulation, knocking it in from nearly the same spot where Rachels clinched the title minutes later.
Quigley, who birdied the first hole and eagled the par-5 second hole, set a senior record with his 178th consecutive start.
“I had to make a statement early on that they didn’t have to worry just about the guys in the last group,” he said.