A year of competitive Golden Tee—a traveling trackball voyage with various stops around the country—led to one final weekend in Houston with everything on the line: two tournaments, two champions. Or so we thought. We’ll get to that momentarily.
Power Events took its show on the road to Jake's Sports Bar for the last competitive Golden Tee extravaganza of the year. Two titles were up for grabs—the Houston Holiday Classic along with the Player of the Year. It’s worth noting that the POTY would also earn a spot in next March’s Golden Tee World Championship, on top of good ol’ fashion cash and a prestigious tourney crown.
The Houston Holiday Classic—the last of six events to determine seeding—would ultimately help shape the Player of the Year bracket. A loaded 77-person field kicked off the Classic with a five-course qualifier on Saturday.
The scoring was blistering as anticipated. Chicago’s Graig Kinzler was the top overall qualifier with a score of -139. Houston’s Mark Stenmark, No. 2 overall, also posted a -139 with less Great Shot Points.
As for the entire qualifier, the Top 32 was as follows:
With the bracket set, double-elimination match play began. It didn’t take long for a tournament theme to take shape.
While the discussion is as complicated as it has even been, if you were to ask an experienced Golden Tee player with tournament familiarity to list off the best players in the world, they’ll likely offer up the following names: Mark Stenmark and Andy Haas.
Although there are more than a handful of players warranting consideration in this discussion, Stenmark has become a tournament juggernaut in recent years. He is the favorite in any event he plays in. Haas, a Daily Contest giant and the proud owner of a -37, is also a spectacular tournament player and the last Golden Tee World Champion.
And so it seems appropriate that these two would clash multiple times over the weekend. For a while, Stenmark really has dominated this matchup (and most matchups, for that matter). Was this the weekend that narrative shifted some?
The first match between the two came with a spot in the Houston Holiday Classic finals on the line, as both maneuvered through the winner’s side of the bracket unscathed. Firing off a -29, Haas took the first match by three strokes, which secured him a spot in the finals.
Although his record was no longer clean, Stenmark battled back through the bracket to the finals, which meant at least one more game with Haas. In order to win the tournament title, however, Stenmark would have to beat Haas twice.
Unconcerned by the possibility, Haas dropped a cool -30 in the championship game—yes, a -30—to win the Houston Holiday Classic.
One tournament was in the books; now it was time to crown a Player of the Year.
The 32 players in attendance with the most PEGT Points—points accumulated over the entire year—were put in one final bracket. The winner would be plugged right in to the Golden Tee World Championship in Las Vegas.
Once again, it came down to these two familiar players. Have posted a -29, a -28 and then consecutive -30s, Stenmark was rolling. Haas, having posted a -29 and a -28 en route to this match, had kept up his torrent pace as well.
With another spot in another finals up for grabs, the two headed to extra holes all tied up at -28. In sudden death, Haas again prevailed.
To get back to the finals, Stenmark would have to win another match against Minnesota’s Andy Fox—who took third in the Houston Holiday Classic.
Fox, who also had a fabulous weekend, finished third yet again in the Player of the Year event. Stenmark dropped a -31, ending his run. This meant we had another finals rematch.
Playing on Winding Pines, an early Stenmark mistake gave Haas an opening. And although Stenmark chipped away at the lead throughout the round, he could not make up enough ground. Haas won -27 to -25, winning his second event of the day and securing a spot in the Golden Tee World Championship.
One weekend, two tournaments, one champion.
Congratulations to Haas, Stenmark, Fox and everyone else that participated in this action-packed, enjoyable weekend. What a year it was for competitive play.
Special thanks must also go out to Power Events for putting on yet another spectacular show. On top of hosting two tournaments, the PEGT Tour has become a fixture of the Golden Tee calendar year: 2015 was the best and most exciting yet.
Yes, the tournament season is complete, although a new season will be kicking into gear shortly. The PEGT Tour returns in 2016, and we will have all the details on the schedule of events soon.
Let’s do that again, shall we?