SHAWNEE — Dillon Klein felt good, like he could have played another 18 holes. But 36 holes on Sunday was all he needed to win his first Lima City Men’s Golf Championship.
Klein held off Andy Connell 1-up to win the Championship Flight in the city tournament at the Shawnee Country Club.
Because Saturday’s round of the tournament was rained out, Klein and the other six flight winners had to play the semifinals and finals on Sunday.
It was a long day that ended a long wait for Klein, who was runner-up in the tournament two years ago and was eliminated in the quarterfinals last year.
“Finally. That’s all I can say. It feels really good. I put a lot of pressure on myself to win this tournament this year,” Klein said.
Responding well under pressure is one of the things that won the title for Klein.
Nowhere was that more evident than on No. 16, where he took the lead for good.
On that hole, Connell’s drive was down the middle and Klein launched his tee shot around 300 yards, but it was also all the way across the adjacent fairway on No. 17 to the right. With trees and a bunker between him and the green, he dropped a 9-iron to 15 feet from the pin, then two-putted for a birdie and a one-hole lead.
“I was looking at about a buck, 45 (145 yards) into the wind. I just looked to hit it into the middle of the green,” Klein said.
At No. 17, Connell pounded a drive long and down the middle of the fairway. But, out of his sight from the tee, it rolled against a tree a few yards off the green. He had to chip sideways on his second shot and bogeyed the hole.
Klein also bogeyed, which made that tree loom as large as a California redwood.
“It sounds like I just got a bad break from what people are saying. I hit a drive right down the middle. I was hoping to be down in the gulley. It kicked left and got right up against the tree. It was just an unfortunate break,” Connell said.
Klein clinched the title at No. 18 with a bogey, rolling in a 5-footer, which assured he could do no worse than tie the hole.
Klein, a Tiffin University golfer from Delphos Jefferson High School, turned heads with more than his golf game during the six-day tournament. He has dropped 80 pounds in the last two years, down to 175 pounds from 255.
“Everybody asks how much weight did you lose?” he said after one of his earlier rounds in the tournament.
“I was extremely overweight and I’m living proof for anybody out there who is overweight that they can get in shape if you put your mind to it and you eat the right stuff and you follow the right nutrition,” he said on Sunday.
“It has definitely changed my outlook on the game of golf. I’m just a lot more confident in general because I feel better.”
Connell, the No. 1 player on Lima Central Catholic’s 2002 and 2003 state champion golf teams and a former Xavier University golfer, was playing in the city tournament for the first time.
“I’m real happy. I got better each day, like I was hoping, and played some pretty good golf,” he said. “He was scrambling well, putting well. He’s a great player and tough to beat.”
Connell got to the finals with a 1-up win over Phil Trueblood. Klein won 1-up over Mike Garlock in the other Championship Flight semifinal.
Six other golfers won championships on Sunday. Thomas Sims defeated Pat Pasion 4-and-3 to win the First Flight. Steve Shutt was a 5-and-4 winner over Tim Grigsby in the Second Flight, and Steve Mefferd won 5-and-3 over Brian Hennon to take the Third Flight title.
Dennis Medeiros won the Senior Championship Flight 4-and-2 over Pete Hubbell. George Hakin won the Super Seniors Flight 2-and-1 over Ron Bell, and Denny Thompson won the Senior Open Flight 1-up, 19 holes over Jerry Kaufman.
Next year’s tournament is scheduled June 24-29.