SHAWNEE TOWNSHIP – Brian Kuhlman’s final push toward winning his second consecutive Lima City Men’s Golf Championship on Sunday began at the intersection of the turn and the turning point.
Kuhlman, who won 3-and-2, trailed by as many as three holes early in his Championship Flight title match against Steve Creps Jr. and was down by one when he made the turn from the front nine to the back at the Shawnee Country Club.
But back-to-back birdies at No. 10 and No. 11 turned the match his way, making him the first champion to go back to back since Joe Whittaker in 2008 and 2009. Kuhlman is the 13th golfer to win two city titles in a row since the tournament began in 1925.
“The back to back birdies on No. 10 and No. 11 that Brian made changed the whole match,” Creps said.
“I just never could get it back,” he said.
Kuhlman said the birdie at No. 10 was “what got me started.”
“I hit a sand wedge (on his second shot) and my caddie, Dean Meyer, said, ‘Is that the right distance?’ And I said, ‘Oh, Yeah. Oh, yeah.’ I don’t know if it hit the pin, but it was within a few inches.”
Then we get to No. 11 (a par three) and he said, ‘Take a 7-iron. It’s 160 and you’re into the wind. You want your 170 club. So I hit it and he said, ‘You like that one?’ And I said, ‘Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah.’ That got me on a good roll right there,” Kuhlman said.
Creps jumped out to a three-hole lead after five holes before Kuhlman won No. 6 and No. 8 with pars to tighten the match heading into the back nine.
“Steve is a very consistent player. I knew he was going to be making pars and I couldn’t be making bogeys. But I was throwing bogeys in there. I was down three early but there was a lot of golf to go,” Kuhlman said.
Even with the big early lead, Creps said he knew from frequent rounds of golf with Kuhlman it would become a tight match.
“I play with him every weekend at Bluffton and Hidden Creek. A lot of times we’re partners on the weekend. He doesn’t miss many fairways or greens,” he said.
Kuhlman said, “We play together all the time. He beats me, I can beat him. It’s just who’s going to win that day.”
Sunday, it was Kuhlman’s day to hold the big trophy a second year in a row.
He said the experience he gained on the way to his first championship came into play on Sunday.
“I did draw on that. I know the pressure it takes to win. I know I’m nervous as hell so I know what those guys are feeling,” he said. “I told my father you know they’re nervous and you have to be just a little less nervous. You just have to pull through with the nerves.”
Six other golfers won flight championships on Sunday.
Chris Inskeep defeated Thomas Nolte 2-up to win the First Flight. The Second Flight title went to Kirk Slusher when he beat Steve Mefferd 1-up, 20 holes.
Tim Windau was a 3-and-2 winner over Dennis Medeiros in the Senior Championship Flight. Bill Haidle won the Senior Open Flight 5-and-4 over Salvatore Marzulli.
Ted Keysor beat Tony Hobensack 3-and-2 to win the Super Seniors First Flight and Dan Garlock won 8-and-6 over Jeff Cary in the Super Seniors Second Flight title match.
Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414 or on Twitter at @Lima_Naveau.