Just one stroke short
Clements falls to collegiate golfer Douglas for UPGA men’s title
GLADSTONE — Nearly everything fell into place at the right time for Bryce Douglas here Saturday as he earned his first Upper Peninsula Golf Association men’s championship at the Terrace Bluff Golf & Country Club.
The nearby Gladstone Golf Club member sank at least three birdie putts in the final six holes, finishing the four-day tournament with a 4-under-par 284, just one better than Mark Clements of Ishpeming and the Wawonowin Country Club of Champion.
Two behind Clements in third place was Brian Robinette of Escanaba with 286, while Rudy Peterson had 287 and Matt Argall 289. The latter two both golf out of Terrace Bluff, with Argall also being an Ishpeming resident in his early youth.
Douglas made a big charge on the back nine after falling four strokes behind Clements after 11 holes in Saturday’s fourth and final round.
“I got my first birdie on the 12th hole, then I made just about everything after that,” he said. “I started making birdies and chipped away at the lead. I just told myself I could do it.”
Douglas fired a 2-under-par 70 on the final day and made up most of his deficit on No. 15, which he birdied and Clements double-bogeyed.
“Bryce made some nice shots and I helped him a little,” said Clements, who shot an even-par 72 despite the double bogey and was tournament runner-up for the second straight year.
“Everybody birdied on 12 except me. I had little bit of a lead and hit some good shots on 13 and 14, then I three-putted on 15. That was a big mistake right there.
“The Bluff treated us real good. They made it enjoyable for everybody. I’m a little disappointed I didn’t win it, but it was fun and that’s why we play. We enjoy playing with each other. It’s fun to compete with the younger guys.”
The short game on the front nine was challenging for the final foursome on a warm and sunny day.
“Nobody could get a putt to drop on the front nine,” said Douglas, a University of Detroit Mercy golfer who prefers par-5 holes. “There were some good birdie chances on the course. I had a good tee shot (which landed on the green) on five. I missed one green on the front nine and ended with 2-over-par. This course is a little shorter than we play in college, although there were some real good golfers in this field.”
Robinette finished with 72 Saturday, one better than the previous day.
“I had an opportunity,” he said. “I had a wonderful time being in the mix. It really reminded me of my college days (at Olivet). This tournament was highly competitive.
“The lead kind of went back and forth through the day, which probably helped Bryce a little. Bryce had a bunch of highs and lows but showed the toughness worthy of a champion. Two days ago (Thursday), I said on the back nine there would be movement on the leaderboard. This is really a remarkable layout. You use all the clubs in your bag.
“It was also nice to several kids in this tournament. We have some great players in the U.P.”
Rudy Peterson of Terrace Bluff, who shared the first-round lead with Clements and Robinette, chopped four strokes off his Friday round with 71.
“I hit the ball better overall, although I still missed some putts,” he said. “I had some good looks, but just didn’t hit the shots. The weather was good. It was warm, but not too windy.
“This was bit of a learning experience. This is the first multiple-day tournament I’ve played in. It’s hard to compare this with high school, but it’s fun. These golfers are more experienced. Most of them play more conservative and smarter, which comes with experience.”
Argall hit 73 Saturday after shooting 72 on the first three days.
“I shot even every day,” he said. “The greens were fine, although we struggled a little on the front nine. I think a lot of it was nerves. Nobody wanted to three-putt. It’s hard to gain confidence when you know you have to have birdies and you’re not getting it done.
“Bryce was unbelievable on the last five holes. He struggled on the first five or six holes, but hung in there. I think this is the fifth time I’ve been the top five or six. I can’t complain. I’m happy for Bryce and Rudy. They really played well.”
Argall said he also enjoyed the weather and course.
“This was a fun course,” he added. “This is the best I’ve seen it in a long time. In the last three days, we had a north wind. We had that for seven or eight holes today, then it turned to the south which changed the way we played the course.”
Chris Rhoades of Marquette and 14-year-old Bryson Mercier of Wild Pines in Hermansville shared top honors in the first flight with 296. Rhoades recorded Saturday’s best round with 69.