Covich battles Griffin down to sixth playoff hole for win
Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 30, 2003
NATCHEZ &045; They needed either a giant eraser or a Sam’s Club, economy size bottle of Wite-Out at Beau Pre Country Club Wednesday.
Due to wires being crossed the oversized winner’s check for first place of the Gulf States PGA Senior Section Championship was originally made out to runner-up Larry Griffin instead of champion Jerry Covich.
At least the trophy had not been engraved yet.
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&uot;It’s harder to win out here than it is at the casino,&uot; joked Covich, who downed Griffin with a birdie on the sixth playoff hole for his third Section pay check at Beau Pre Wednesday. &uot;We were like two heavyweight fighters and it came down to the last putt. I’ll enjoy it more when I get home. I’m relieved it’s over than I am happy or excited. People don’t realize how draining it is to keep your focus and concentration.&uot;
After opening with a first round 70 to hold a one-stroke lead, the wheels began to fall off the tracks for Covich with a double bogey at the par-4 third and another bogey at No. 9 to make the turn at 2-over par for the championship.
Griffin, who shot 73 on the first day, took advantage of Covich’s mistakes with a pair of birdies on the front to go along with a single bogey to get it back to even-par.
&uot;I had the lead by three shots heading into (No.) 16,&uot; Griffin said. &uot;I took a double bogey there and didn’t make a birdie at 17 or 18, and that’s what brought us to a playoff.&uot;
After Griffin, from Bayou Oaks Golf Course in New Orleans, and Covich, from The Oaks Golf Course in Pass Christian, each parred the first two holes of the playoff, Nos. 17 and 18, Griffin had a good shot to pull off the win at the par-4 15th.
Griffin slapped a big drive just yards short of the 100-yard maker in the stomach of the fairway, while Covich watched as his tee shot took a nasty bounce to the left and rolled into the left rough.
After Covich two-putted for par, though, Griffin could not slide his short left breaker into the cup for the victory.
&uot;I was inside of (Covich) a few holes. The third extra hole (No. 15) I was four feet away and miss hit it,&uot; Griffin said.
They headed for the par-3, 144-yard 16th, where again Griffin had the upper hand when he drew his short iron out over the water and to within 11 1/2 feet of the cup, while Covich smoked a pitching wedge to the back rough.
Covich got up and down, but still faced the possibility of defeat as Griffin line his birdie attempt up. However, Griffin did not put enough gusto behind it and had to settle for par to extend the playoff.
&uot;I was 12 feet on (No. 16) and couldn’t get that one to fall either when he was had to chip,&uot; said Griffin, who finished second in consecutive years. &uot;I let go of too many opportunities, and he finally took advantage of that.&uot;