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Carpenter crafts WACO victory in playoff

August 11, 2013|By TIM KOELBLE | koelble@herald-mail.com
  • Gary Carpenter, of Crofton, Md., holds his championship trophy on the 18th green iafter winning the 2013 WACO Open title on Sunday at Beaver Creek. In front is tournament director Rod Steiner.
By Joe Crocetta/Staff Photographer

HAGERSTOWN — Even though Gary Carpenter won the 30th WACO Open on Sunday at Beaver Creek Country Club on the second playoff hole, it was the first playoff hole that enabled him to be in a position to win.

With Kenny Smith staring down at a possible eagle putt on the 505-yard par-5 15th, Carpenter’s ball sat in the rough. The first-round leader knew he had to come up with something very good.

His chip, however, did not roll out to the cup and he was left with a 10-foot putt for a birdie — knowing he needed to make it to have a chance at halving the hole with Smith.

“I hit the chip exactly how I wanted to, it just didn’t roll out for me,” Carpenter said. “Even though I’m in the rough I’m still playing to get a bird.”

Carpenter made his clutch birdie putt, then watched Smith’s eagle effort.

Smith grimaced as he trotted away from the ball, which looked headed for the bottom of the cup, only to nick off the edge and away. He settled for a birdie and a trip to the 18th hole.

Rob Cimarolli — who also got into the playoff when each of the three finished 36 holes at 2-under-par 142 — found trouble off the 15th tee and ended with a bogey.

Carpenter and Smith went to the 18th, a dogleg left par-4 measuring 375 yards. Carpenter found the fairway while Smith’s ball dodged through some trees on the left into the rough.

Carpenter found the green with his approach — “I hit a soft, open pitching wedge from 113 yards, taking dead aim at the pin,” Carpenter said — while Smith pulled his shot left. It left Smith needing to come up with a similar result as Carpenter did on the previous hole, but Smith faced a more treacherous left-to-right downhill break to the cup.

“It was a typical pull hook miss for me off the tee,” Smith said. “The chip, I couldn’t have hit it any better.”

Smith’s chip went about 7 feet past the pin. Carpenter managed a two-putt par, then watched as Smith putted to try to save par and extend the playoff.

The putt broke off, nudging the cup but staying up, for a bogey as Carpenter won the WACO in his first-ever try, keeping Smith from becoming a three-time champion.

“I was surprised (Smith) missed that putt,” Carpenter said.

Carpenter started the day 3 under with Smith at 1 under. Alex Hoffman also started Sunday at 1 under and bolted to the lead through the first nine.

Hoffman, who will be playing this year at the University of Maryland following a transfer from Memphis, reached 4 under after a birdie on the par-5 ninth, while Cimarolli’s birdie got him to 3 under. After a bogey on 9, Carpenter fell three shots behind Hoffman.

Hoffman faded down the stretch, losing a two-stroke lead he held through 13 holes.

“I teach my junior golfers to keep their head in the game, and that’s what I did today,” Carpenter said. “I didn’t have my ‘A’ game.”

Carpenter shot a 1-over-par 73 on Sunday, while Smith went 1 under.

The 2002 and 2007 WACO champion, Smith was returning after a two-year absence, but has been playing good golf of late.

“I came in expecting to play good,” said Smith, who fought off a pair of bogeys early on the back nine to get back into contention. “Gary made a crucial putt on 15 in the playoff.”

Sunday’s playoff was the second in WACO history.

Official winners in the second, third and senior flights will be announced Monday.

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