North Little Rock
April 10 & 11, 1999
|Tim Cain, using new irons and a new putter, started fast and held
off a member of the Arkansas Golf Hall of Fame to win the StoneLinks Masters, the first
ASGA designated tournament of 1999. Cain fired rounds of 66-72 for a six-under par total
Manuel Bernudez, a redshirt freshman on the UALR golf team, and Thom Shock of Little Rock tied for second at 141. Bernudez fired the low round Sunday, a three-under par 69, to go with a first round 72. Shock had rounds of 70-71.
Cain used a bit of luck at the opening hole Saturday when his drive hit the cart path twice, leaving him with only a six-iron to the 549-yard par-5. An accurate approach left him with a six-foot eagle putt, which he made. Cain, who grew up in McCrory and now lives in Conway with his wife and daughter, Anna, made five additional birdies Saturday, offset by his only bogie, a three-putt at the ninth.
He held a three shot lead over three players - Stan Lee, who had just been inducted into the ASGA Hall of Fame the week before, Tracy Harris and Mike Satterwhite.
After not much wind and a slight drizzle Saturday, the sun came out and the wind picked up Sunday - with gusts reaching more than 35 miles and hour. The ball was oscillating on the greens at times, causing players to step away from even short putts.
Cain appeared to have the title firmly in its grasp after a two under par 34 on the front nine Sunday. Lee was in closest pursuit with a one-under 35. Cain bogied 10 and 12, and when Lee birdied the 217-yard par-3 12th, the lead was one.
"I was getting nervous after the 12th hole," Cain admitted. "I felt like it was slipping." Both players had birdie putts at 13, a 564-yard par-5 - Cain was 15 feet away while Lee was in prime position with a five-footer.
"I knew I had to make my putt," Cain said. "I knew if Stan tied me on 13, he would have the momentum and he would be tough to beat." Cain's putt found the bottom of the cup while Lee's slid by. The lead was again two.
"Thirteen was definitely the swing hole," Lee said. "He had 15 feet for birdie and I had five. I was content knowing I was going to the next tee tied. I hit four good shots and came away with a very disappointing par. But I won't take anything away from Tim because he played real well and he putted outstanding. He made a lot of five and 10-footers and he threw in a couple of long ones too. That's what it takes."
Cain parred the 165-yard par-3 14th, while Lee charged a 20-foot birdie putt. He would miss from 4-feet coming back and the lead was three. Lee's charge finally ended in the high winds when his drive at the 436-yard 15th sailed failed to clear the out-of-bounds, that extended into the fairway. The winds knocked it down, ending his hopes.
"That's the first time I can ever remember having to hit over a boundary," Lee, who played the PGA Tour from 1975-1980, said. "It was a tough tee shot and I just hit it a little to the right." Cain avoided trouble by aiming far left, away from the center of the fairway. "I knew that was going to be a tough tee shot, directly into the wind," Cain said. I was aiming at 13 green, knowing I couldn't reach the hazard on the left." Cain followed up his tee shot with a driver from the 15th fairway, earning a par. Lee wound up with a triple-bogie seven.
Cain bogied 17, after two drivers on the 422-yard par-4, again playing dead into the wind. A par at 18 left him with an even par 72 in the final round and a three-shot victory.
"I hit the ball real well," Cain said, "and I putted great. I made a couple of long putts Saturday and Tracy (Harris) looked at me like "who is this guy making these putts' cause he had seen me putt so badly at times throughout the last few years. Actually, Tracy had been telling me to 'get rid of that old putter and get a new one and you'll putt much better' and he was right."
The putter, a Scotty Cameron Sante Fe model, with a terylium insert, was a birthday gift from his sister-in-law, Audie Alumbaugh, who manages a golf practice facility in Conway. He didn't get the putter until the night before the first round. Obviously, Harris' advice worked as Cain needed only 25 putts in the first round and had 30 putts Sunday.
"I made a couple of 30-footers," Cain said with a wry smile, "and that was unreal. I've thanked Audie once and I need to go and thank her again."
With the victory, Cain earned 80 points in the ASGA designated point system and obviously has the early lead in the race for the ASGA Player of the Year. The next designated event is May 1-2 at the Lost Springs Golf & Athletic Club in Rogers.
|T2nd||Manuel Bernudez||72-69-141||Not ASGA Member|
|T10th||Billy Zihala||70-79 -149||6|
Ronnie Johnson - 154
Carl Lucky - 181
Senior Open Division
D. H. MacDonald - 173
David Barnes - 174