ST CHARLES – It was a fitting end to the quarterfinal round of the men’s match play tournament at Pottawatomie Golf Course in St Charles.
The first quarterfinal match in the championship flight paired defending champion Jon Woods with perennial tournament favorite Brian Charles.
Charles, who won the tournament in 2008 and 2009, won a marathon four-hour match by besting Woods 1-up by birdying the second playoff hole. The win advances Charles to the semifinals where he will face Garrett Patten, a 1-up winner over Steve Osland.
“He plays strong and just goes out hard and gets after it. I was looking forward to playing him,” Charles said. “I’m not sure it’s more fun to play better players – it certainly makes you think more. If thinking more is having fun, then I had a lot of fun today.”
The 44-year-old Charles was part of the foursome that featured the quarterfinal matchup between Nick Edwards and Scott Larsen. Edwards took advantage of some early miscues by Larsen and moved on with a 5 to 4 win.
Larsen conceded the match to Edwards after the 14th hole, leaving Woods and Charles to duke it out over the final three holes.
Each player was 1-up at some point over the final three holes with Charles pulling off the shot of the match to take a one shot lead after 17.
Facing a 30-yard chip from just beyond the green, Charles used a wedge to skip the ball onto the green and watched it trickle in before letting out an uncharacteristic roar.
“I did that before a couple of years ago also,” Charles said of his long chip-in. “I chipped in the same 52 wedge then that I did today. I just try my best these couple of weekends and see what happens.”
Were it not for his putting, Woods may have had a chance to defend his title next weekend in the semifinal and championship rounds. In his own admission, the match came down to his short game woes, with missed putts at 17, 18 and 19 that could have won him the match.
Instead, Woods watched Charles sink a birdie putt on the second playoff hole to secure the win.
“You don’t really draw someone like him in the second round, so it was difficult,” Woods said. “Unfortunately, I don’t think I made a putt over eight feet today. He chipped in [on 17] and made a couple of putts and that was the difference.”
The 20-year old Woods was hoping to squeeze in another tournament championship before heading back to Penn State for the start of his sophomore year. Instead, the former St Charles East golfer will play in an amateur event this week in southern Illinois before enjoying the rest of his summer.
“I didn’t get it done on the greens today. I’m not going to talk about any holes in particular – but I had my chances inside 20 feet,” Woods said. “It’s fitting I made my best stroke of the day on the last hole and it missed. This is great practice for my event this week though. As much as it stinks to not be playing next weekend, Brian probably deserves to be there.”
Edwards, also an East product, was long and straight off the tee for much of his match with Larsen. The result was an easy victory that will pit him against Matt Daly in the other semifinal. Daly defeated Taylor Kanute 3 to 2 in the last quarterfinal to advance.
“It was a good match and I got in a nice rhythm after about the fourth hole,” Edwards said. “I just kept picking up strokes and points. With match play, your strategy can be a lot different compared to stroke play. This is a blast for me, I wish I could play out here every year. Just getting out here and making it into the semifinals is pretty nice.”
The championship flight semifinal matches will take place Saturday starting at 7 a.m. at Pottawatomie.