Va. Tech's Vincent, LSU's Jolly share victory in Iowa
BURLINGTON, Iowa –– Virginia Tech junior Scott Vincent couldn’t stop smiling as he waited for his opponents to finish up on the par-4 fifth hole, their final hole of the day after a shotgun start Tuesday at the Golfweek Conference Challenge.
Vincent, who entered the final round at Spirit Hollow Golf Course five shots off the lead, had just drained a 25-footer for birdie to wrap up the best round of his college career, an 8-under 64.
VIDEO: Golfweek Conference Challenge, Recap
“Sixty-four, that’s quite something for me,” said Vincent, who ended up sharing individual medalist honors with LSU junior Stewart Jolly at 6-under 210.
“I’m really happy.”
But it wasn’t just the final number that had Vincent beaming. It was the way he closed his round – five birdies and an eagle on his final six holes.
Vincent, a native of Zimbabwe, was 1 under through his first 12 holes after a par at No. 17. But he then made a 15-footer for eagle at the par-5 18th hole to begin what would be a torrid stretch of holes.
He made another 15-foot putt, this time for birdie, at the par-4 first hole. At the par-5 second, he just missed an eagle attempt from the back fringe and tapped in for another birdie. He made his third straight birdie by sinking a 10-footer at the par-3 third hole, and a fourth birdie in a row after getting a 6-footer to drop at the par-5 fourth.
The long putt at No. 5 sealed what was an unbelievable close, and also helped Virginia Tech finish second in the team standings, four shots back of Oklahoma. (Click here to read more about Oklahoma's season-opening victory at Spirit Hollow.)
Vincent wasn’t the only player, though, who birdied his final hole to grab a share of the individual victory on Tuesday.
Jolly entered the day with a share of the lead at 3 under along with Ball State’s Tyler Merkel, Oklahoma’s Beau Titsworth and Central Arkansas’ James Newton, with whom Jolly was grouped Tuesday.
While the other three co-leaders failed to make a move early, Jolly got off to a hot start with five birdies in his first nine holes. He got to 8 under only to fall back with three bogeys in his next four holes.
PHOTOS: 2013 Golfweek Conference Challenge (Final round)
Check out images from the final round of the 2013 Golfweek Conference Challenge at Spirit Hollow Golf Course in Burlington, Iowa.
As Jolly entered his final hole, the par-4 seventh, the leaderboard showed him in a tie for the lead with Newton at 5 under – Vincent’s final two holes had yet to be inputted into live scoring.
“I thought I needed to make birdie to win or tie,” said Jolly, who rolled in a 25-footer from the fringe for birdie to cap his second straight 3-under 69.
Newton would miss his birdie try and remain at 5 under, finishing in a tie for third with Arizona’s Alex McMahon.
“I definitely (thought I had won outright) for a minute,” Jolly said. “I knew that (birdie) was to beat (James), so I was definitely excited to make that to get one ahead of him.
“But I still didn’t know what everyone else was doing.”
It turns out Jolly needed the birdie anyway, as Vincent was making a final-hole birdie of his own just two holes away. So instead of Jolly winning medalist honors by himself, he had to share them for the second time in as many collegiate victories.
Jolly doesn’t mind, though.
“I started off really, really well, so that really got me going,” Jolly said. “Kind of struggled the rest of the way, but I hung in there pretty well and fought hard, and glad to be holding the trophy at the end of the day.”
While it was Jolly’s second career collegiate title, it was Vincent’s first, as he becomes the first Virginia Tech player to win an individual title in seven years – “That’s pretty exciting,” Vincent said.
Although one could argue that it’s not nearly as exciting as closing with an eagle and five birdies to shoot 64. That final round set a school record and tied a tournament record first set by Iowa’s Chris Brant in 2010.
“I’m still kind of shocked about what happened,” Vincent said, “and just really happy that it did.”