Bricker back on top

Waynesboro native scorches Beaver Creek to win WACO Championship

Waynesboro native scorches Beaver Creek to win WACO Championship

August 09, 2009|By TIM KOELBLE

With a fist pump on the 18th green following his seventh birdie of the day, Chad Bricker exited the amateur ranks as a three-time winner of the 26th WACO Championship.

With stunning similarities to 2006 when he stormed through the second round with a tournament-record 63, Bricker fired a mistake-free 7-under-par 65 on Sunday to not only make up seven shots on first-round leader Chuck Thatcher, but to end up winning by five shots.

After a 67 on Saturday, Thatcher had problems on the back nine and ended with a 5-over-par 77 and a 144 total for a second-place finish with Chris Baloga and Trevor Hedges, each shooting a second straight 72 on Sunday.

Today, Bricker is playing at the famous Oakmont Country Club near Pittsburgh as he begins life as a professional in the Pennsylvania Open.


"It was important to get off to a good start to have a chance," said Bricker, also a champion in 2005. "I had a nice shot out of the bunker on No. 2 and a six-foot putt on No. 3. I felt good and thought 'this could be the day.'"

He birdied two of his first three holes to get to level par after his opening-round 74 on Saturday at Beaver Creek Country Club.

Bricker remained steady with pars until the ninth hole when he birdied the par 5 for a front-nine 33. Two groups behind Bricker, Thatcher had a 36 on the front but his lead had begun to dwindle.

Bricker birdied both par 5s on the back nine while Thatcher had bogeys. The turning point came inbetween when Thatcher bogeyed 12 and 13, a pair of par 4s.

"I played good golf for 29 holes, but maybe too safe along the way," said Thatcher. "I had to hit out from under a tree on 12."

On 13, 375 yards away, Bricker hit his tee into the left greenside bunker about 20 yards short of the cup. He followed a superb sand shot with a two-foot birdie.

At one time on the back nine, five players were under par with red figures. Ken Lampard, Brian Crabtree and Bernie Deane were the chief challengers and at one point when Bricker was a 4 under, only three shots separated the five with five holes to play.

Thatcher 's hopes unfolded on the 15th after Bricker birdied the par 5. His second shot went through the green and after a pitch that ran long, he ended with a bogey while Lampard and Crabtree, in the same group, both went astray with double bogeys.

"I was trying to get an eagle and thought the ball was on the green," said Thatcher, surprised that it rolled through.

By the time he reached the 18th tee box, Bricker was in complete control and the lone player in red figures.

He punctuated his crown with a approach wedge and a four-foot birdie putt.

"Saturday I didn't play that bad, I just didn't score," said Bricker. "I didn't do much else different today. I wasn't changing any part of my routine."

Bricker's third win put him in the company of Greg Henry as WACO's only three-time champions and gave Waynesboro its eighth straight title. Henry won titles in 1984, 1986 and 1989.

"I thought some about it being my last amateur tournament before I teed off," said Bricker. "

Henry had visions of his championship days on Sunday, carding a 4-under-par 68 that left him at 145 and in a tie for fifth with Deane.

Defending champion Steve Caron rebounded from a horrid 79 on Saturday with a 3 under 69 for 148, good for a 7th-place tie.

Crabtree, who started the day at 1 under, shot 77 and also finished at 148, as did Lampard after his 76. The four-way tie was rounded out by two-time champion Kevin Reiber, who shot a 75.

Players were flighted after Saturday's first round. Mike Boggs (74--155) won the second flight, Mike Kauffman (77--163) won the third and Kyle McNaney (84--176) won the fourth.

Note: A third hole-in-one was recorded in the 2009 WACO as John Bowman aced the No. 8 hole. It was the fifth over ace in WACO history.

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