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WACO title is in Bricker's house

August 16, 2005|by TIM KOELBLE

koelble@herald-mail.com

Monday's WACO Open playoff at Beaver Creek Country Club gave two assurances of what would happen when the nine-hole battle between Chad Bricker and Steve Caron was completed.

First, the WACO trophy would remain in Waynesboro, Pa.

Second, it would give the tournament a first-time champion in its 22nd edition.

Bricker answered the lone question up in the air, as he shot a near-flawless 2-under-par 34 on the back side to have his name inscribed on the huge trophy. He finished two strokes better than Caron's even par over the 3,298-yard back nine.

Bricker, 18, and Caron, 23, reside on opposite sides of Waynesboro Country Club. Bricker made good on his second WACO appearance, the first coming in 2002.

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He set the tone early with a birdie on the opening hole, a 420-yard par-4, when he smacked his drive 335 yards and drilled a wedge within 12 feet of the cup, proceeding to knock the downhill putt in the middle.

In control of his own destiny, Bricker's only gaffe came on the par-3 16th when he lightly chunked his tee shot and left it short of the green - the only one he missed in regulation in the playoff.

"Making a birdie on the first hole didn't take off any pressure, but it sure felt good to get one right away," said Bricker, playing his final competitive tournament before heading off to Penn State University. "I came into the tournament thinking I could win, like I do any other one. You practice and play to win."

Practice he did after deadlocking with Caron in Sunday's final round. Bricker spent four hours on the range Monday before heading to Beaver Creek.

Caron, with his best finish in three WACO appearances, knew the tournament was over when the two approached the 18th tee.

"I told (Chad) I was still gunning for him," Caron said with a smile. "I knew he had me."

While Caron couldn't buy a putt and put nine straight pars on the scorecard, Bricker added birdies at 14 and 15 to begin tapping the nail into the coffin.

His birdie on the 165-yard 14th came on a 14-foot putt from above the hole, and he promptly came back with a birdie on the par-5 15th from 517 yards when he reached the green pin-high in two, leaving a 12-foot eagle putt just short.

"I knew I was doing real well when I birdied 14," Bricker said. "I went up to 15 and ripped the ball."

Bricker's 345-yard drive set up a 170-yard iron shot.

Caron thought the match was over on 15 when he could not duplicate Bricker's effort, missing an 8-foot birdie putt, before heading into the final three holes, Beaver Creek's "Devil's Backbone."

"I hit all my putts on line. ... They just wouldn't fall," said Caron. "I drove the ball well."

After Bricker's bogey on 16, Caron still had a chance with a pin-high 22-foot putt while Bricker was faced with a 50-footer, which he lagged beautifully close to the cup to save par. Caron's putt nearly said hello to the cup, but he settled for par.

"I know how solid of a player (Chad) is and when he birdied the first hole I thought to myself I had to birdie the next two holes," said Caron. "Not getting a birdie on 15 and then not hitting the green on 16 was the key."

Bricker and Caron tied the 36-hole mark at 1-under-par 143 following Sunday's round, which forced the first WACO playoff since 1996. Bricker's win also keeps the title among teenagers as he succeeds two-time defending champion and former Waynesboro High School teammate Kevin Reiber.

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